H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def DVDs by Gary W. Tooze

 

Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze

 

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The Story of O aka Histoire d'O [Blu-ray]

 

(Just Jaeckin, 1975)

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Video: Somerville House

 

Discs:

Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 1:40:43 + opening credits 2:43

Chapters: 34

Feature film disc size: 14.8 Gig

One single-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 11th, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC1

 

Audio:
French (2.0) DUBs: English: 2.0, Spanish (2.0)

Subtitles:
Feature: None
 

Supplements:

Director Commentary in French or French with English translation

Credits 2:43
Trailer 3:04 HD
Photo Gallery 3:24 HD

Text Biographies of three cast

 

Product Description: Cinema’s original sin returns with its shocking portrait of sexual submission from master of erotica Just Jaeckin ("Emmanuelle," "Lady Chatterly’s Lover"). A stunning young woman (Corinne Clery) surrenders herself at a remote chateau at her lover’s (Udo Kier) request and is immediately forced into a round the clock regimen of every sexual appetite imaginable. Her submission is total to the orgasmic odyssey that explores the shadowy boundaries between pleasure and pain...

 

 

 

The Film:

Jaekin's episodic, softcore adaptation of Pauline Reage's acclaimed erotic novel stays just the right side of kitsch, hinting at the darker pleasures experienced by the enigmatic O at the hands of her experimental lover Rene.


Long a cause célébre amongst the anti-censorship lobby, (it was not given certification by the BBFC until 25 years after its release) The Story Of O can now be judged on its own merits. Like Lady Chatterly's Lover it's not an undeniable classic, but it does have a lot to recommend it – and not just if you're into whips.

 

 


O is a beautiful young photographer taken to a gothic chateau by her lover Rene (Udo Kier). He subjects her to a series of humiliations and erotic experiments to which she submits without question – wishing only to please. On their return to Paris, Rene passes her on to an older man, Sir Stephen (Anthony Steel) who in turn uses her as a psychological and sexual plaything.

Directed by Just Emmanuelle Jaekin, the film has plenty of kitsch credentials and nubile young flesh, but there are also dark undertones and thoughtful explorations of consent and power; particularly when O begins to question the position(s) she has been placed in by the domineering males. ....

Excerpt from Channel 4 located HERE

 

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

After reviewing Somerville House's Black Christmas on Blu-ray - we can pretty much say the same things. The file size is damn puny at less than 15 Gig. The 1080P transfer is progressive and it doesn't look that bad but certainly no where near the heights that this format can offer. Sure the film is over 30 years old and probably not much production bucks to begin with - well, not in the technical areas anyway. Does it even look like high-definition? I'd have to say yes - it's better than most SD treatment and probably significantly better than this film has ever seen digitally. But... you can see yourself that it is pretty weak. There is some damage marks - almost like speckles but a bit more prominent - however they are usually frame specific. Noise and macro-blocking artifacts certainly exists but colors have some surprising life especially past the middle of the film. The lack of detail may well be inherent in the film itself being shot with a softer lens (typical of porn in the 70's) giving it that cloudy dream-like appearance.

 

NOTE: The trailers are in 1.66:1 (sample below) but the film fills the widescreen at 1.78 despite the cover stating it's 1.85. I suspect the film was originally shown at 1.66 but I don't really care that much either way - we're not talking Kurosawa here. In fact, I care more about that bearded guy's hair - which sure looks like a grandiose rug.

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: Damage visible on the following two captures:

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
I'm afraid the
Blu-ray fails on this front. There are three tracks - the original French (in 2.0) and two DUBs (also both in 2.0) of English and Spanish. French is the language of the film but there are no subtitles to watch it that way for English audiences. The DUB is poor, although the film is a lot of female narration, and although subtitles look like they exist they never appear on the screen. The sound of the whippings and cries seem expectantly flat as a pancake or often overly crackling like coming out of a 30 years old speaker. Pierre Bachelet original music becomes painfully repetitious and there is nothing very good about this audio transfer at all.

 

Extras:
To match the rest of this ineffectual
Blu-ray - the commentary track (via director Just Jaeckin?) is in French with a 2nd option for hearing with an English translation (you can still hear the French murmuring in the background). Anyway, he sounds fairly passionate about the film describing it as a 'touching love story' and some may get something out of it. We also have a 3 minute trailer in HD, and a running Photo Gallery (about 3 minutes too ) in HD and finally text biographies of three cast. Here is something else kinda weird - the menus are in English with French in a smaller font underneath - like this has been ported from a French transfer - OR is set to be sold to a French audience. Probably the latter - Somerville House are in Canada I believe - with an office in Quebec. While I'm at it - one more thing - through my computer I can access an English opening credit sequence (2:43) OR a French one (also 2:43) but neither seem listed as an option in the menus (it shows the English version when you hit 'play').

 

 

 

Bottom line:
I suppose this qualifies as bona-fide Euro-trash - and it has some Kitsch appeal as well. It's kind of like a long Red Shoes Diary but it gets much raunchier. For those into nudity - well, this film is filled to the brim - more nude women than clothed ones. The
Blu-ray is the very lower end of this format capabilities but even at that this is probably the best this film has looked for home theater distribution.
T
wo big flaws - the aspect ratio and the lack of subtitles - not to mention the quirky disc authoring. This is probably something that will eventually appear in WalMart's bargain bin as Blu-ray becomes more popular - years from now. I don't think the film or the transfer are worth the price being offered, but I'm not that much into the Kitsch value. Others may disagree.  

Gary Tooze

November 6th, 2008

 

 

 

 





 

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