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The Canterbury Tales [Blu-ray]

(aka "I racconti di Canterbury" or "Les contes de Canterbury" or "Pasolinis tolldreiste Geschichten" or "Los cuentos de Canterbury")

 

(Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1972)

 

 

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Available in a Dual Format package December 5th, 2011:

 

 

 

Studio:

Theatrical: Produzioni Europee Association

Blu-ray: BFI / Criterion - Spine # 633

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked / Criterion is region 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:51:00.778 / 1:51:24.010

Disc Size: 39,081,623,986 bytes / 48,057,665,613 bytes

Feature Size: 25,929,659,712 bytes / 32,849,786,880 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps / 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 10 (both)

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 27th, 2009 / November 13th, 2012

 

Video (same for both):

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

 

Audio:

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

LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, none

English, none

 

Extras:

• Alternative English-language version (DUB and text alterations) - seamlessly branched

• Trailer

• Documentary: Pasolini and the Italian Genre Film (36:38 in HD!)

• 18-page fully illustrated booklet including essays, reviews and biography

 

•  New visual essays by film scholars Patrick Rumble and Tony Rayns, on The Decameron and Arabian Nights, respectively
•  New interviews with production designer Dante Ferretti, composer Ennio Morricone, and film scholar Sam Rohdie
•  Introduction to Arabian Nights by director Pier Paolo Pasolini
•  The Lost Body of Alibech (2005), a documentary by Roberto Chiesi about a lost sequence from The Decameron
•  The Secret Humiliation of Chaucer (2006), a documentary by Chiesi about The Canterbury Tales
•  Via Pasolini (2005), a documentary featuring archival footage of Pasolini discussing his views on language, film, and modern society
•  Pasolini and the Form of the City (1974), a documentary by Pasolini and Paolo Brunatto about the Italian cities Orte and Sabaudia
•  Deleted scenes from Arabian Nights
•  Pasolini-approved English-dubbed track for The Canterbury Tales
•  Trailers
•  PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by critic Colin MacCabe; Pasolini’s 1975 statement “Trilogy of Life Rejected”; excerpts from Pasolini’s Berlin Film Festival press conference for The Canterbury Tales; and a report from the set of Arabian Nights by critic Gideon Bachmann

 

 

Description: Eight of Geoffrey Chaucer’s lusty tales come to life on-screen in Pier Paolo Pasolini’s gutsy and delirious The Canterbury Tales, which was shot in England and offers a remarkably earthy re-creation of the medieval era. From the story of a nobleman struck blind after marrying a much younger and promiscuous bride to a climactic trip to a hell populated by friars and demons (surely one of the most outrageously conceived and realized sequences ever committed to film), this is an endlessly imaginative work of merry blasphemy, framed by Pasolini’s portrayal of Chaucer himself.

 

 

The Film:

The second installment of Pasolini's Trilogy, with its depiction of unbridled fornication and a comically blasphemous visit to Hell in the closing five minutes, proved to be one of his bawdiest and most controversial films. Presented here in a transfer from the original negative, and with special features including alternative audio options, and a new documentary on Pasolini and the Italian genre film.

Excerpt of review from BFI located HERE

Posters


 

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

 

Previously I had only seen this film on a VHS tape released in the mid 1980's. The image, as one might expect, was badly cropped and suffered from almost every form of damage imaginable. Going in to this viewing, my expectations were not too high given how flat and unattractive that previous print was. How much improvement could there actually be? The answer is 'a lot'. I was blown away by the restoration work done by the folks at the BFI. In fact, I can say without the least amount of hyperbole that the films in this trilogy were the single biggest difference between a first and second viewing image quality that I have ever come across. This Blu-ray is gorgeous with brilliant colors but there has been some removal of the grain and it's a shame we have lost some of the film's natural textures. Skin tones appear un-manipulated. The framing has been correctly restored to 1.85:1 and it is exceptionally clean. You'd be hard pressed to find a single instance of dirt or damage. The detail hasn't suffered and produces and image that looks sharp and crisp. My only negative would be the lack of more substantial grain that may have succumbed to minor DNR processing - creating a somewhat less-film like experience than may be possible from the format. I think it still looks amazing.

We seem to be running short of time as this release will soon be available to the public - so, in-lieu of a full review of each title, we will post the screen captures and technicals with these details hopefully informing some of the quality. I agree with David from our ListServ in regards to The Decameron when he states: "Gary, the Criterion unquestionably most resembles the gorgeous original release Tech prints." There is some information on all 4 edges lost here when compared to the BFI. We will report more at a later date - including on the, marvelous, extensive extras.

 

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

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

(BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM)

 

 

Audio & Music:

The PCM 2.0 channel mono audio at 2304 kbps is quite crisp and clear. I had no problems whatsoever with the sound quality. There's no distortions or unwanted background noise (e.g. pops, cracks, hisses, etc.) here. Instead the audio is continuously crisp with both the dialogue and music sounding clear. Similarly, the subtitles (sample above) are easily read and unobtrusive. Finally, like most Italian cinema of the day, the film suffers from a loose synchronization process. This is inherent in the original print of the film and has been preserved by the BFI. Gary tells me his Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked disc.

 

 

Operations:

The disc uses the traditional pop-up menus found on most Blu-rays. The information is easy to find and access.

 

Extras:

One may access, seamlessly branched, the alternate English version. It is simply the optional English DUB and unrestored English language credits (playing in the opening for 2:35 and the 'The End' at the completion) with a few text-related scenes in the film altered to English (at 16-minutes, 41-minutes and 110-minutes). Example:

 

 

Aside from an original trailer whose copious nudity puts American red-bands to shame, there's a 36-minute documentary on the effect of Pasolini's trilogy on soft-core Italian medieval literary epics--a genre that I didn't even know existed! This featurette with input from producers Alfredo Bini and Gabriele Crisanti, writer and critic Serafino Murri is in Italian with optional English subtitles. I found it amusing, informative, and certainly worth the time to watch. There's also an 18-page booklet containing essays “The Canterbury Tale” by Roger Clarke, “The Trilogy of Life” by Prof. Sam Rohdie, “The Canterbury Tales Reviewed” by Nigel Andrews (originally published in 1972), and “Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975)” by Geoffrey Nowell-Smith (from the Oxford History of World Cinema). It is highly interesting to read the negative review from the film's initial release.

 

NOTE: Unusually, the BFI's webpage lists the standard DVD as containing "alternative shots". These aren't on the Blu-ray, but since I don't have the standard release I can't verify their existence.

BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Bottom line:

With this film comprising one third of my favorite film trilogy, I would have likely recommended a purchase even if the quality wasn't such a drastic improvement from what has been available previously. Although the seemingly prurient nature of the film may turn some off, it has has multiple interpretations. Like the other films in his trilogy, "The Canterbury Tales" is a deeply moving tribute to life itself and the possibilities of a free and uncomplicated view of nudity and sexuality. I give this Blu-ray a strong recommendation and encourage others to check it out. It produced  one of my favorite viewings of the year!

 

December 15th, 2009

November 8th, 2012

 

 

CLICK to order from:

 

 

Available in a Dual Format package December 5th, 2011:

 

 

 




 

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