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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Bill Morrison
USA 1921

 

During the summer of 2016, a fishing boat off the shores of Iceland made a most curious catch: four reels of 35mm film, seemingly of Soviet provenance. Unlike the film find explored in Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time, it turned out this discovery wasn’t a lost work of major importance, but an incomplete print of a popular comedy starring beloved Russian actor Mihail Žarov. Does that mean it has no value? Morrison thought not. To him, the heavily water-damaged print, and the way it surfaced, could be seen as a fitting reflection on the life of Žarov, who loved this role so much that he even co-directed a sequel to it. In The Village Detective: a song cycle Morrison uses the story as a jumping off point for his latest meditation on cinema’s past, offering a journey into Soviet history and film accompanied by a gorgeous score by Pulitzer and Grammy®-winning composer David Lang.

***

Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Iceland, July 9, 2016. The surprising discovery of a canister containing four reels of The Village Detective, a 1969 Soviet film, caught in the nets of an Icelandic trawler, is the first step in a fascinating journey through the artistic life of film and stage actor Mikhail Ivanovich Zharov (1899-1981), icon and star of an entire era of Russian cinema.

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 27th, 2021 (Moscow International Film Festival)

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Review: Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

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Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:20:50.136
Video

1.78:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,053,366,408 bytes

Feature: 15,751,170,048 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.99 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

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1771 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1771 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 708 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 708 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / 16-bit)

Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Kino

 

1.78:1 1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,053,366,408 bytes

Feature: 15,751,170,048 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Three short films by Bill Morrison: Buried News (2021, 12:12), let me come in (2021, 10:41), Sunken Films (2020, 10:51)
• Trailer (2:14)


Blu-ray Release Date:
November 23rd, 2021
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 (November 2021): Kino have transferred Bill Morrison's The Village Detective: a song cycle to Blu-ray. It is a fascinating documentary and has TV news clips, older film footage, archival footage, modern interviews and, of course, the decaying, nitrate-based footage with emulsion deterioration that melts and burns similar to the director's Dawson City: Frozen Time and Decasia. You can see other examples in the Bill Morrison: Selected Films 1996-2014 Blu-ray set from BFI. The modern sequences are in 1.78:1 and appear to be shot on HDV. It's on a single-layered disc with a middling bitrate. To support the 'discovery' though the image quality is just fine.

On their Blu-ray, Kino offer DTS-HD Master tracks (16-bit) in both 5.1 surround and 2.0 channel stereo options - in the original English language with some Icelandic and Russian. The Village Detective: a song cycle is supported by a haunting score by David Lang (Wildlife, Requiem For a Dream) that carries reflecting, evocative intent in the historical and unknown emotions that rise in the viewing of the film. Kino offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

The Kino Blu-ray offers three new shorts by Bill Morrison as extras. Buried News (2021) runs a dozen minutes and focuses on Dawson City: Frozen Time, described by Bill as "Among the 533 reels that were ultimately restored, there were 114 newsreels, each reel containing five or six individual news stories, each one about a minute in length. Four of these news stories, produced between 1917 and 1920, have been included here in Buried News. Seen together, they reveal how race has historically been used as a tool in the USA to divide people for the commercial or political gain of those in power. Archival footage captures the aftermath of race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois in 1917, and in Omaha, Nebraska in 1919, as well as extremely rare, and heretofore believed to be lost, footage of the siege of the Lexington, Kentucky courthouse in 1920." let me come in (2021) - about the re-purposing of an early nitrate film, Pawns of Passion (Germany, 1928) which has begun deteriorating, into a new story, allowing us to preserve what still remains while also appreciating the beauty of its transformation. Music and lyrics have been added to enhance the storytelling. Lastly is Sunken Films (2020)a precursor to The Village Detective: a song cycle. The latter two run ten minutes each. 

Bill Morrison's The Village Detective: a song cycle is so rich in Soviet film history, mystery and a degree of treasure-revealing wonderment. So, in 2016, an Icelandic fishing boat pulls up four reels of 35mm film from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, twenty miles southeast of the 700,000 year old glacier Snæfellsjökull. The ocean floor around the rift is rich in hydrogen sulfide, which has immense preservation ability while resting on the seabed. Bill does his thing and documents the 'find' showing the surviving elements, discussing the actor and also gives a theory on how it ended up at the bottom of the sea in that location. Remarkably he shows how parts of the celluloid were still viewable and why the four reels were still near each other. His work is aptly described as "a poetic reflection on the ways in which biographies of film prints are interwoven with biographies of human individuals, real and fictional, as well as broader historical events and their mediations through cinema." I agree. The Village Detective: a song cycle is more of Bill Morrison's fascinating work. The Kino Blu-ray shows this keen story in 1080P and includes some shorts by the director. Certainly recommended to historical film fans and Morrison's unique niche of artistic cinema and the experiences it conveys.

Gary Tooze

 


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Distribution Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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