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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Christopher Petit
UK/West Germany 1980

 

Christopher Petit's debut feature Radio On is the rare road movie from England. Since its 1979 release, it's become a cult classic and been recognized as one of one of the "100 Greatest British Films" (Little White Lies). Robert (David Beames), the film's enigmatic protagonist, embarks on a road trip from London to Bristol to investigate the recent death of his brother. A remarkable collection of art rock, punk, and new wave―David Bowie, Devo, Kraftwerk, Robert Fripp, Ian Dury, and more―soundtracks Robert's journey. The austere urban and rural landscapes he drives through are beautifully and strikingly rendered in black and white by cinematographer Martin Shäfer (who had been Wim Wenders' camera operator). As Robert drives westward, the radio newscasts he hears and the strangers he meets address the dire sociopolitical and economic state of "Winter of Discontent"-era Britain. Petit deftly melds these stylistic, narrative, and documentary elements, resulting in an undeniably eerie and reflective mood that casts a hypnotic spell on the viewer.

***

A British film about alienation, asphalt, and narrative disconnections, coproduced by Wim Wenders's German company. Director Christopher Petit, a former film critic, slips into Wenders's style—the cool, austere black-and-white images, the blank underplaying—as if he were taking it for a test drive: he wants to see what it can do, what its strengths are and where its weaknesses lie. Seizing on an archetypal Wenders situation—a car trip that becomes a metaphor for an emotional pilgrimage—Petit inspects and abstracts Wenders's ideas. The film is dull and distant, though not objectionably so—it seems to be the effect Petit has in mind. The relationships between his isolated, distracted characters are reproduced in the movie's low-key appeal to its audience.

Excerpt of review from Dave Kehr located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: July 4th, 1980 (West Germany)

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

BFI - Region 2 - PAL vs. Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

  

Also available on Blu-ray from BFI in the UK:

Bonus Captures:

Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:40:03 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:44:52.166
Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.12 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,766,673,182 bytes

Feature: 28,093,956,672 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate DVD:

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) DTS-HD Master Audio English 0 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / DN -27dB
Subtitles English, None English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: BFI

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• New filmed interview with Chris Petit and producer Keith Griffiths (42:15)
• radio on (remix): a digital video essay - with radical disruption of the origal (24:15)
• Original trailer
• Illustrated 28-page booklet with contributions from Geoffrey Nowell-Smith, John Patterson, Ian Penma

DVD Release Date: May 26th, 2008
Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Fun City Editions

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,766,673,182 bytes

Feature: 28,093,956,672 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary with filmmaker and historian Kier-La Janisse
• Audio interview with director Chris Petit (51:34)
• Archival video interview with director Chris Petit and producer Keith Griffiths (42:16) (2008)
• “Before the Explosion of the Image Bank," a new video interview with director Chris Petit (37:16)
• “Radio On (Remix)," Chris Petit's follow-up digital video essay (24:16)
• Booklet with essays, stills and cast / crew information
• Image Gallery (04:42)
• Original theatrical trailer (03:14)
• Inside cover artwork


Blu-ray Release Date:
December 8th, 2021
Standard Transparent Blu-ray Case inside slipcase

Chapters 11

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Fun City Editions Blu-ray (January 2022): Fun City Editions (Vinegar Syndrome's sister company, through OCN Distribution) presents Christopher Petit’s debut feature, Radio On, on an all-new dual-layered Region 'A' Blu-ray. The 1979 British road film is newly scanned & restored in 4k from original 35mm negative. Martin Schäfer's black & white cinematography is rich with stark contrast and grainy detail, with Fun City Edition's Blu-ray finally giving the image a respectable transfer (a BFI Blu-ray was also released this year but we do not have a copy at the time of this review). The 1080p image is backed up by a robust, high bitrate. Note how in our third comparison shot below (the one inside the car) suddenly shows an actual radio in the Blu-ray, where the DVD shows only black splotches. Also note the beautiful grain and detail in this same shot, now displaying the highway and scenery in all its full glorious detail. With all of the light and shadows now truly exposed, the film's cinematography is allowed to shine even brighter than before, on previous SD releases. Fun City Editions have a winner on their hands here.

NOTE: We have added 40 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

One of the main attractions of Radio On is its phenomenal soundtrack. Director Petit was able to amass a veritable who's who of musicians to provide the soundtrack. David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Robert Fripp (of King Crimson fame), Ian Dury & The Blockheads, Eric Goulden (Wreckless Eric), Lene Lovich, The Rumour, Devo, and of course Sting (who appears in the film and provides an on-screen cove of "Three Steps to Heaven'' by the Cochran Brothers.) This audio track is presented in 24-bit 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio. I would assume that this is a faithful presentation of the film's original audio presentation, without any annoying damage audible. There are optional English SDH subtitles on this Region 'A' Blu-ray from Fun City Editions.

Fun City Editions'
Blu-ray release of Radio On features many bonus features, both archival and new. Cinematic multi-hyphenate (author, historian, critic, film programmer, podcaster, publisher and producer with an emphasis on genre cinema) Kier-La Janisse provides an audio commentary throughout the feature film's running length. Janisse is an avowed fan of Christopher Petit, and Radio On in particular, even wondering aloud if they got the commentary gig due to their facebook profile pic being a poster for the film. Janisse also has had the pleasure of interviewing director Petit in the past. On display is Janisse's shear wealth of knowledge for the film (as well as experimental film in general). This combines neatly with their music history, resulting in a sort of Gestalt commentary, covering all the intricate details of the film. This is a great commentary for fans and newbies alike. Fun City Editions have also included a 52-minute audio interview with Petit where the director speaks about their experiences as a critic (and film editor of 'Time Out' from 1973-1978) and how this provided the real impetus for Radio On, and how it never would've happened without his time at the magazine. Everything is discussed by the director here, from Kraftwerk to Martin Scorsese, and fans should get a kick out of this recollection of stories and anecdotes. Next up is an archival video interview with director Chris Petit and producer Keith Griffiths, from 2008. This piece also covers the inspiration for the film, as well as many other topics, I was particularly fascinated by the director's mentioning of Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop and Antonioni's Red Desert within the context of Radio On. "“Before the Explosion of the Image Bank" is a new
video interview with director Chris Petit that lasts over 37-minutes. This interview delves more into the deeper thoughts about cinema in general, and its various incarnations and classifications. Petit transforms the typically bland and blasé director-as-interview-subject into an erudite discussion on art and representation. In these interviews, Petit also speaks of revisiting Radio On, for his follow-up digital video essay, “Radio On (Remix)," which Fun City Editions has wisely included here, lasting around 24-minutes. An image gallery, and the film's original (with a capital 'O') theatrical trailer round out the
Blu-ray disc's extras. This release also includes a great booklet, with essays (including one from critic Glenn Kenny) stills and cast & crew information. This release contains a plethora of juicy bits for all fans of Radio On.

Radio On is a unique and moving cinematic experience. The 1979 British road film is a contemplative one, as full of silence as it is music. The rare moments of dialogue are jarring, and as cryptic as the sounds and images themselves. This is a film that is impossible to classify, with the viewer experiencing a mesmerizing journey not unlike the lead character. Fun City Editions'
Blu-ray transfer is newly scanned & restored in 4k from the film's original 35mm negative. The audio/visual presentation is a thing of beauty, not to mention the many valuable and thoughtful bonus features. Highly recommended to fans of avant-garde cinema.

Colin Zavitz

 


Menus / Extras

 

BFI - Region 2 - PAL

 

 

Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample - Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 


 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE

 

 

 
Box Cover

  

Also available on Blu-ray from BFI in the UK:

Bonus Captures:

Distribution

BFI

Region 2 - PAL

Fun City Editions - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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