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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Ruta 29" )

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/roeg.htm
UK 1987

 

A film directed by Nicolas Roeg from a screenplay by Dennis Potter was always going to be an interesting cinematic event, and although Track 29 is one of Roeg's lesser known works, it is replete with all the stylistic flourishes and thematic concerns from the great auteur. I am not sure how well Potter is known outside the UK, as he is chiefly known for his plays made for UK television from 1965 until his death in 1994, but his works such as The Singing Detective, 1986, and Pennies from Heaven, 1978, were seminally important works of great depth and complexity, easily amongst the finest works ever commissioned by the BBC. It is claimed that Potter has been an influence on such writers and directors as Charlie Kaufman and Alain Resnais, and, interestingly, it was Potter's play The Singing Detective that brought Michael Gambon to fame - the actor who would later play the lead in Roeg's film Two Deaths, 1995. Track 29 was produced by George Harrison's company Handmade Films, so resides alongside such great works as The Life of Brian, 1979, Time Bandits, 1981, and Withnail and I, 1987. Track 29 is a work just as intriguing and complex as any Roeg film, with fine performances from Theresa Russell, Gary Oldman and Christopher Lloyd. Russell gives a emotionally charged performance as Linda Henry, creating a sense of frustration, anger and vulnerability in the character that brings to mind her stunning portrayal of Milena in Roeg's Bad Timing, 1980. Gary Oldman is, as ever, superb, and imbues the role of Martin with just the right amount of mania and menace, and Christopher Lloyd brings much of Back to the Future's Dr. Emmett Brown to his role of Dr. Henry Henry - although unlike Dr. Henry, Dr. Brown never had a penchant for being spanked by Sandra Bernhardt! The plot of the film revolves around Linda's mental breakdown - her shadow (for Jungians) or unconscious (for Freudians) being incarnated in the form of Martin, who arrives to (perhaps?) save her from her loveless marriage to Henry. Unlike Shane Meadows' excellent Dead Man's Shoes, 2004, (where the shocking realization that Anthony is alive only in Richard's imagination is left to the closing stages of the film) Roeg lets us know pretty much from the outset that Martin is a creation of Linda's mind. For example, at the start of the film Martin suddenly appears from nothing into the frame, and later he fades into existence while Linda is looking out of the window: this provides much suspense though, as we now have no idea what Linda is capable of. As with most of Roeg's films, it is difficult to say exactly what happens in the film: it is clear that Linda escapes from her marriage, but whether this is through her death or through the death of Henry it is difficult to say. We might read the fact that Martin arrives at the Henry's house at the time that Linda is trying to commit suicide by drowning as suggestive of the idea that the rest of the film is a portrait of her mind trying to unify itself at the moment of death, and that the last scene of Linda exiting the house wearing white and looking happy and 'purified', while a body lies bleeding in an upstairs floor, as suggesting that she has entered the afterlife. Or, perhaps it is Henry that lies bleeding upstairs, his shouts being mere echoes in Linda's mind. Or perhaps, and this may be the most likely reading, it is Martin that lies (metaphorically) bleeding upstairs, as Linda has overcome her emotional trauma, and so she truly does escape both from her marriage and from her psychological fetters.

Rob Farmer

Posters

Theatrical Release: 5th August 1988

Comparison:

Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL vs. Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

 Box Cover

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 2 - PAL

Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:26:33 (4% PAL speedup) 1:30:14.242
Video

1:1.33 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.48 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,480,021,079 bytes

Feature: 28,393,891,392 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.92 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 English, Stereo 2.0, Optional 5.1

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
NFT Interview:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Isolated Score:

LPCM Audio Undetermined 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1:1.33

Edition Details:
• Audio Options (2.0 or 5.1)
• No Extras
• No Subtitles
• No Chapter Selection Menu

DVD Release Date: March 26th, 2007
Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio:
Indicator

 

1.85:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 34,480,021,079 bytes

Feature: 28,393,891,392 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.92 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

The NFT Interview with Nicolas Roeg (1994, 1:21:00): archival audio recording of the celebrated filmmaker in conversation at London’s National Film Theatre
Audio commentary with filmmaker and historian Jim Hemphill
Postcards from Cape Fear (2019, 17:09): actor Colleen Camp recalls the experience of working with Nicolas Roeg
On the Right Track (2019, 10:00): editor and longtime Roeg collaborator Tony Lawson discusses the construction of the film
An Air of Mystery (2019, 5:55): costume designer Shuna Harwood details the distinctive look of Track 29
Buzz and Gossip (2019, 14:54): sound mixer David Stephenson reflects on the challenges of making the film
Isolated music & effects track
Original theatrical trailer (01:41)
Image gallery: promotional and publicity material
Limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Danny Leigh, Dennis Potter and Theresa Russell on Track 29, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits
World premiere on Blu-ray
Limited Edition of 3,000 copies


Blu-ray Release Date:
May 27th, 2019
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 10

 

 

 

Comments

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

ADDITION: Indicator - Region 'B' Blu-ray (April 24th, 2019): Nicolas Roeg's "Track 29" has its world premiere on Blu-ray thanks to Indicator. This is plainly stated as an HD remaster. The 1.85:1 HD image is light years ahead of the previously released DVD. That being said the image can appear a bit soft and thick, most likely due to whatever source print was available to Indicator. There are rarely any instances of damage, with the texture looking clean throughout. Black levels are competent, showing a modest range, without crushing. Colors seem appropriately bright and vibrant, and skin tones look healthy and realistic.

From the opening chords of John Lennon's Mother, and its abrupt cut-out / cut-back-in matching what we see on the screen, the music and diagetic/non-diagetic sounds all play a key role in this film. Thankfully the 24-bit linear PCM audio track supports these moments, exporting a strong representation of the film's original stereo audio, whether you are listening while watching the film or via the optional isolated music & effects track. The score is thanks to the prolific
Stanley Myers ("Take a Girl Like You", The Wilby Conspiracy Eureka, Cimino's The Deer Hunter, Roeg's Insignificance, Harold Becker's The Boost, Pete Walker House of Mortal Sin and Frightmare, etc.) Dialogue is easily decipherable and clear. There are also optional English SDH subtitles available on this Region 'B' Blu-ray from Indicator.

In true Indicator fashion, this
Blu-ray is chock-full of substantial extras. The first being a 1-hour and 21-minute archival audio recording of director Roeg, in conversation at London’s National Film Theatre. The interview is played over the film itself. Next up is an audio commentary with filmmaker and film historian, Jim Hemphill. This is a good listen, with Hemphill jumping into the possible readings of the film right from the start. As Oldman's character appears out of thin air onto the bridge, Theresa Russell's character is watching a TV, and as Hemphill points out, the narration emanating from the tube could very well substitute for a reading of the very film about to unfold. To those curious, the TV narrator speaks "...even time itself can be bent and twisted, and unbelievable as it may seem, two or more things can inhabit the same area at the same time, coexisting in parallel dimensions". "Postcards from Cape Fear" is a 17-minute interview with actor Colleen Camp (Yvette from Clue!) recalling the experience of working with Nicolas Roeg. "On the Right Track" features editor and longtime Roeg collaborator Tony Lawson spending 10-minutes discussing the construction of the film. "An Air of Mystery" has costume designer Shuna Harwood detailing the distinctive look of Track 29. "Buzz and Gossip" is a 15-minute piece with sound mixer David Stephenson reflecting on the challenges of making the film. As mentioned above, there is also the option of watching the film with an Isolated music & effects track, which works to emphasize the subtleties of Stanley Myers' unique and varied music, which would otherwise be buried under the dialogue and sound effects. Also here is an image gallery and the film's original trailer. There is a limited edition exclusive 36-page booklet with a new essay by Danny Leigh, Dennis Potter and Theresa Russell on Track 29, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits.

At first glance "Track 29" certainly appears to be a bit of an outlier in the canon of Nicolas Roeg. Upon further inspection, one tends to notice a style and theme typically and uniquely his own. Though the film reaches more toward the absurd and comedic, there is certainly a deeper and darker symptomatic reading of the film lurking beneath the exposition. Moments of orgasmic ecstasy or bursts of violence are aided by Roeg's frequent elliptical shots, beautifully edited by Tony Lawson (Don't Look Now, Straw Dogs). Indicator's image is surely from the best source available, and this absolutely blows the cropped SD DVD right out of the water. Recommended to fans of Roeg, and writer Dennis Potter.

Colin Zavitz

***

ON THE DVD (2007): The most intriguing problem with this film is trying to ascertain its proper aspect ratio. Both current DVD editions present the film in a 1:1.33 (4:3) format, but I find it very difficult to believe that this is correct, given that it was not produced (as far as I am aware) as a TV movie. I have strong suspicions that the master copy used to create this DVD is the exact same master copy used to produce the 1987 Cannon Video VHS editions, as the picture has a clear video-like quality to it (I wouldn't be surprised if the master used to make this DVD was a twenty year old Beta SP tape).

Ultimately this is a cheap DVD edition and no expense has been spent on its production. This is certainly a film that deserved better, and this dreadful edition does not do it justice. I may be wrong - perhaps this film looks just the way that Roeg intended, but I'd be amazed if it does.

 - Rob Farmer


DVD Menus
 

 

Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 


Subtitle Sample - Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Anchor Bay - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Captures


 Box Cover

 

Distribution

Anchor Bay

Region 2 - PAL

Indicator - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 




 

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