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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Pierre Chenal
Argentina / USA 1951

 

One of the most controversial novels of its day, Richard Wright's Native Son (first published in 1940) exposed the injustices of urban African-American life, witnessed through the eyes of Bigger Thomas, whose violent tendencies and moral confusion were the natural result of a lifetime of deprivation. In prison for murder and sentenced to death, Thomas reflects on the circumstances that led to his fate.

Kino Lorber presents a new restoration of the 1951 film version of the novel, directed by Pierre Chenal and starring Richard Wright as Bigger Thomas. It is presented in association with the Library of Congress, Fernando Martin Peña and Argentina Sono Film. Special thanks to Edgardo Krebs for his years of research into the making of Native Son, and for being a tireless champion of its restoration and re-release.

***

A genuine oddity: a 1950 adaptation of Richard Wright’s great novel of black Chicago, with the author himself as the hero, Bigger Thomas, shot in Buneos Aires by French director Pierre Chenal. Wright is clearly too old for the part, and there are many other ways in which the film can’t begin to do justice to the extraordinary power and density of the original, but it’s still a noble and interesting if highly uneven effort. With Jean Wallace, Gloria Madison, and Nicholas Joy.

Excerpt from JonathanRosenbaum.net located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 2nd, 1951

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Review: Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Distribution Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:48:01.222
Video

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,924,448,077 bytes

Feature: 23,514,240,576 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.91 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Kino

 

1.33:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,924,448,077 bytes

Feature: 23,514,240,576 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.91 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Re-release Trailer (1:24)

28-page liner notes with photos and essay by Edgardo Krebs


Blu-ray Release Date:
August 9th, 2022
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 11

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Kino Blu-ray (August 2022): Kino have transferred Pierre Chenal's Native Son to Blu-ray. A restoration note states; "When it was initially released in the U.S., Native Son was heavily censored by regional state/municipal censor boards where it played. A complete 16mm print of the original Argentinian release and an incomplete 35mm duplicate negative of the uncensored cut were combined for the current restoration, the most complete version of Native Son ever shown in the United States." The 1080P image is on a single-layered disc with a supportive bitrate. Even after restoration, there are marks and light surface scratches with a couple of instances of severe degradation (see sample below). There is am inherent softness but the film is entirely watchable while showing obvious inconsistency - considering the different sources.

NOTE: We have added 80 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Kino use a linear PCM mono track (16-bit) in the original English language. Native Son has few aggressive moments that come through with modest depth and score by Juan Ehlert (as John Elhert), a German violinist and composer who settled and worked in Argentina. In addition to having his own orchestra, he stood out for having scored more than sixty films (h/t Wikipedia.) It adds to the film's moods and flavors. Kino offer optional English subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

The Kino Blu-ray offers only a trailer and 28-page liner notes booklet with photos and essay by Edgardo Krebs. The Kino website advertises a "special introduction by film historians Eddie Muller (Film Noir Foundation) and Jacqueline Najima Stewart " but it was not on the Blu-ray disc that I could ascertain.

Pierre Chenal's Native Son is the first of three adaptations of the book to film. The celebrated novel's author, Richard Wright, aged 42, played the protagonist in the Argentine-produced film - despite being twice the age of the 20-year-old Bigger Thomas character. There isn't much overt character development of the protagonist. Bigger is the perpetrator of unapologetic crimes, with minor hints of the systemic causation behind them. Bigger's lawyer, Max (played by Don Dean), makes the case that there is no escaping his client's doomed fate because of his skin color and how society has marginalized him - since birth. The novel was intended to educate its audience about the black experience in the ghetto. It comes across with some ambiguity in the film - and that makes it such a fascinating and appealing oddity. It's cited a "Film Noir" and certainly a case could be made with misfortune turning against an anti-hero protagonist. I loved it. The Kino Blu-ray deserved a commentary but the restoration should be celebrated regardless. Recommended!

Gary Tooze

 


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Distribution Kino - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 


 

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