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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Hong gao liang' or 'Red Sorghum')

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/zhang.htm
China 1987

 

The stuff of legend, Zhang Yimou's film satisfies both as straight folk tale and as a subversive tribute to the vitality and endurance of Chinese peasant culture. Set in a remote Northern province in the '20s and '30s, the story is narrated by a man who remembers the lives and times of his grandparents. A girl is waylaid and ravished in a field, en route to an arranged marriage with an elderly, leprous winemaker. He mysteriously dies, and her ravisher eventually lives with her so that together they may make the red sorghum wine. As the film develops, the tone shifts from light to dark, humour giving way to horror and sacrifice with the arrival of Japanese forces. Formerly a cameraman, Zhang fills the 'Scope screen with rich, sensuous images that illuminate and celebrate peasant life (waving sorghum fields, an eclipse of the sun), and uses actors, music and colour in a deeply expressive way. This, his debut as a director, confirms him as one of the finest and most versatile of China's 'Fifth Generation' film-makers.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

***

Celebrated Mainland filmmaker Zhang Yimou brings his inimitable touch to Red Sorghum, a sumptuous drama set during 1930s China, just prior to the Japanese occupation. Jiu'er (Gong Li) is a young bride arranged to marry the leprous owner of a sorghum winery. But the leper dies, and Jiu'er takes over the winery, along with her lover (Jiang Wen), a burly rogue with a natural, rough charisma. Their rural lives are filled with struggle and even joy, but the invasion of the Japanese brings tragedy and blood to their doorsteps. Told in glorious shades of red, Red Sorghum is quintessential Zhang Yimou, and uses setting, cinematography, and stunning imagery to create characters and mood that are both iconic and recognizable. Gong Li and Jiang Wen both turn in revelatory performances. As both an anti-war film and a portrait of pre-Communist Chinese life, Red Sorghum is a compelling, powerful achievement from a true master of cinema.

Posters

Theatrical Release: February 1988 - Berlin International Film Festival

Reviews                                                                       More Reviews                                                               DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

XI AN DIAN YING - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Diskino - World Cinema Library (#15) - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Xi An Dian Ying - Region 0- NTSC LEFT

2) Diskino - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

Distribution XI AN DIAN YING - Region 0 - NTSC

Diskino - World Cinema Library (#15)

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Runtime 1:28:00  1:31:52.875 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.25 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,923,251,505 bytes

Feature: 26,510,039,040 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio Mandarin (Dolby Digital 5.1)  LPCM Audio Chinese 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
Subtitles English, Chinese (Traditional and simplified), None English, Chinese (Traditional and simplified), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: XI AN DIAN YING

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: December 6th, 2005

Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Diskino

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,923,251,505 bytes

Feature: 26,510,039,040 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


Edition Details:
 Tony Rayns (55:21)
• Two Books (in Chinese with color photos) P

ostcards

 

Blu-ray Release Date: July, 2018
Scanavo
- transparent Blu-ray case inside custom package (see photo below)

Chapters: 12

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Diskino - Region FREE Blu-ray - August 2018: Firstly, this was limited to only 800 copies and although sold-out there was an attempt at a Group Buy (HERE). I suspect it will surface again.

While this 1080P image only suffers from its second-gen source, the quality is a dramatic rise above the old Xi An Dian Ying DVD. There is still a PAL DVD from the UK HERE. This is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate and colors are bright, detail takes a significant rise, flesh-tones warm, it is progressive (the DVD was interlaced) and we can see more information in the frame. It looks absolutely fine in-motion and I saw no edge-enhancement, macro-blocking or digitization. There are a couple of weaker sequences but I put that solely down to the source used. It was such a pleasure to see it after suffering through inferior DVD all these years.

The audio is via a linear PCM mono transfer (16-bit) in the original Mandarin language (with some Japanese.) It sounds consistent and clean - without the pops and hiss of the PD/bootleg DVDs. The score has 
traditional-leaning music by Jiping Zhao (Farewell My Concubine, The King of Masks, and many Zhang Yimou films; To Live, The Story of Qiu Ju, Raise the Red Lantern, Ju Dou etc.)  There are optional English subtitles that seem acceptable without undue gaps (NOTE: song lyrics and some narration have burned-in Chinese subtitles - see sample), and this is on a Region FREE Blu-ray, playable worldwide.

Extras on the disc consist of almost an hour of Tony Rayns - and this has immense value in covering so much about Chinese cinema including, of course, Red Sorghum. The package has two books, in Chinese with color photos and five postcards.

I had always hope that Criterion would take the reigns in releasing Red Sorghum,
To Live, The Story of Qiu Ju, Raise the Red Lantern but it was not to be and any 'complete' packages have been very few and far between for Zhang Yimou's earlier work. This Blu-ray is so encouraging for more of the director's other work to reach competent 1080P. I see Diskino have packages; #7 Crazy Racer / Silver Medalist (2009) #8 The Painted Veil (2006), #29 Eighteen Springs (1997) although I am not familiar with those films. Fans who appreciate Red Sorghum may wish to indulge or have Diskino kept on their radar. We will review as we receive!

***

 

ON THE DVD: A frugal DVD production - to say the least, obviously from an analog source (flatline bitrate supports this), non-progressive and non-anamorphic. Combing is evident. The image is dark, colors bleed, but it is suitable for CRT viewing... especially since there is no English-friendly alternative existing (that I am aware).

Audio has a frequent background hiss. I've seen worse HK subtitle translation - it is not horrendous. Subtitles are optional. There are no extras. The DVD is single-layered.

We are, of course, are disappointed but will take what we can get. This is a film I have longed to see for years - hoping against hope for a decent digital release. Red Sorghum is Zhang's initial kick at the can and it is borderline masterpiece - great to see how his creative roots were formulating. Recommended ONLY to see the film.  

Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus


 

Diskino - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

1) Xi An Dian Ying - Region 0- NTSC TOP

2) Diskino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Songs have burned-in Asian subtitles and optional English subtitles - Diskino - Region FREE - Blu-ray


 

Screen Captures

 

1) Xi An Dian Ying - Region 0- NTSC TOP

2) Diskino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Xi An Dian Ying - Region 0- NTSC TOP

2) Diskino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Xi An Dian Ying - Region 0- NTSC TOP

2) Diskino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Xi An Dian Ying - Region 0- NTSC TOP

2) Diskino - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


More Blu-ray Captures
 

 


Box Cover

 

Distribution XI AN DIAN YING - Region 0 - NTSC

Diskino - World Cinema Library (#15)

Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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