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directed by Michael Powell
UK 1938

Shot over four arduous months in the wild, windswept Shetland Island of of Foula, a magnificent, primal landscape of high, rocky inland plains and sheer cliffs jutting out of the sea, Michael Powell's first independent production establishes the daring techniques and experimentation that would later become familiar hallmarks of his career. In this film I saw earmarks of Dreyer and Hitchcock - a masterwork film of inescapable beauty.

The Edge of the World tells the moving story of a remote island and its inhabitants, whose traditions and way of life are threatened by a rapidly industrializing world. To settle an argument over whether the islanders should give up their livelihood and move to the mainland, two childhood friends follow an ancient tradition and climb the island's highest cliff face. The outcome shatters the island's peace and splits the two clans apart.out of

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Theatrical Release: January 10th, 1938 - UK

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 Comparison:

Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. BFI - Region 2 - PAL vs. BFI - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI Video Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

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Distribution

Image Entertainment

Region 1  - NTSC

BFI Video
Region 2 - PAL
BFI Video
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:15:15 1:11:51 (4% PAL speedup) 1:14:55.157
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.21 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.23
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 20,991,786,184 bytes

Feature: 11,165,675,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 15.34 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Image

Bitrate:

BFI

 

Bitrate:

BFI Blu-ray

 

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles None English, and none English (SDH), and none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Daniel-Day Lewis, Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell, and Ian Christie
• Two short films: "Return to the Edge of the World" (22:55) and "An Airman's Letter to His Mother" (5:36)
• Stills gallery (16 images in slideshow format)
• DVD-ROM: Original 1937 press kit (28 page PDF file) and Milestone press kit  (14 page PDF file)

DVD Release Date: December 9, 2003
Keep Case

Chapters 14

Release Information:
Studio:
BFI Video Publishing

Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen (Standard) - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by Daniel-Day Lewis, Thelma Schoonmaker-Powell, and Ian Christie

• Michael Powell Biography (1:54)
• Michael Powell's Home Movies (6:55)

• Material from the Michael Powell's Collection - images in slidehsow (3:55)

• Short - "St. Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle" - 1928 (Commentary optional ) (16:52)

• "Return to the Edge of the World" (22:57)

• On location with "Return to the Edge of the World" Slideshow (:31)

• The Producer - Joe Rock - slideshow with images and text - (1:59)

•  Sleeve notes by Ian Christie

• Acknowledgements

DVD Release Date: January 12th, 2004
Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 15

Release Information:
Studio:
BFI Video Publishing

 

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 20,991,786,184 bytes

Feature: 11,165,675,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 15.34 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Daniel Day-Lewis reads extracts from 200,000 Feet on Foula, the book that was inspired by the film.
• Commentary featuring Thelma Schoonmaker (Michael Powell's widow, Martin Scorsese's editor) and film critic Ian Christie
• Michael Powell's home movies
• Documentary: Return to the Edge of the World (1978)
• Travelogue: St Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle (1928) with optional commentary
Alternate Title and credit sequences
• 26-page liner notes, fully illustrated, booklet with newly commissioned essay by Professor Ian Christie, reviews and notes on the film

Blu-ray Release Date: August 23rd, 2010
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 15

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: (August 2010) BFI Region FREE - Blu-ray: Firstly, I absolutely adore this film - it has been a favorite for years. I always think of, another masterpiece, Powell + Pressburger's I Know Where I'm Going. Something indescribable is captured in The Edge of the World - I doubt I could ever adequately relate my appreciation. I'd love to travel to Foula one day. Seeing and hearing this look and sound even better than my initial viewing was pure pleasure.

I was totally thrilled when I heard this was coming to Blu-ray courtesy of BFI. The transfer may not be as technically robust as I was hoping - single-layered with the feature taking up just over 11 Gig of space on the disc and a modest bitrate - but I can't argue with the appearance. Compared to the DVDs - detail rises notably and the 1080P transfer has lost some of the brightness flaring I saw. Contrast is a shade darker. This remains clean(er) from the BFI restoration and textured grain is evident - and sometimes abundant in the long distance landscape shots. Peter states, via email, that he is surprised at the amount of compression artifacts. 

Audio was a bit of an issue on the DVDs - more associated with production/source and the film's age (over 70-years old) . It is still imperfect here but with a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 1500 Kbps it has more depth and I feel it is probably the best it will sound without extensive and costly restoration. Optional English subtitles are included and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.  

Extras are duplicated from the 2004 BFI DVD with Daniel Day-Lewis reading extracts from 200,000 Feet on Foula, the book that was inspired by the film in the commentary with Thelma Schoonmaker (Michael Powell's widow, Martin Scorsese's editor) and film critic Ian Christie. The video supplements here are in HD including Michael Powell's home movies, and the documentary: Return to the Edge of the World (1978) and the Travelogue: St Kilda - Britain's Loneliest Isle from 1928 - with optional commentary.

Included are an optional alternate opening title and credit sequences and the 26-page liner notes, fully illustrated, booklet with newly commissioned essay by Professor Ian Christie, reviews and notes on the film. I can't help assume dual-layering with a higher bitrate might have done even more for the visuals but as it stands it is such an impressive piece of cinema I'll take whatever I can get - and this may very well be in my top 10 of the year. If you haven't seen The Edge of the World - I envy your first exposure - and seeing on Blu-ray in your home theater should be an incredibly rewarding experience. Enjoy!

*****

ON THE DVDs: The Edge of the World used stems from a restoration begun by the National Film and Television Archive in 1990. At that time a previous reel of footage was re-inserted, correcting the damage present in a later reissue. Just this year, the BFI digitally restored the picture and sound. It is marvelous.

It may not be as noticeable on these individual frame captures, but the image (and sound) on the Region 2 BFI DVD are far superior to the Image Entertainment disc. What I am most surprised at is that I seem to notice different damage spots on the two discs when I assumed they were from the same print. What I expect is one has had more digital manipulation than the other. As the Image disc is also slightly cropped and hazier. The Region 2 shows more film grain. I would expect that the transfer from NTSC is not as well done as the PAL used by the BFI. I am fairly certain I have duplicated the exact frames as I used the 1st frame technique (1st frame after a sequence). The BFI disc's sound is most impressive as are their animated DVD Menus. The Region 1 has some wonderful Extras, but the Region 2 is superior again with commentary, shorts and the "Return to the Edge of the World". Magnificent - if I was to buy one - no doubt - it would be the Region 2 PAL BFI DVD. Bravo BFI !   

 Gary W. Tooze



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2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI Video Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI Video Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI Video Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI Video Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) BFI - Region 2 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) BFI Video Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

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Region 2 - PAL
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Gary Tooze