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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


(aka 'The Argentine')

Directed by Steven Soderbergh
France Spain USA 2008

 

Far from a conventional biopic, Steven Soderbergh’s film about Che Guevara is a fascinating exploration of the revolutionary as icon. Daring in its refusal to make the socialist leader into an easy martyr or hero, Che paints a vivid, naturalistic portrait of the man himself (Benicio del Toro, in a stunning, Cannes-award-winning performance), from his overthrow of the Batista dictatorship to his 1964 United Nations trip to the end of his short life. Composed of two parts, the first a kaleidoscopic view of the Cuban Revolution and the second an all-action dramatization of Che’s failed campaign in Bolivia, Che is Soderbergh’s most epic vision.

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Theatrical Release: May 21st, 2008 - Cannes Film Festival

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Comparison:

Criterion (3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion (2-disc) - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 496 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 496 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:14:12 + 2:15:08  2:14:28.101 + 2:15:22.739
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.67 + 7.29 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s  

Disc Sizes: 48,163,658,073 bytes

                  49,725,256,605 bytes

Feature Sizes: 37,981,077,504 bytes

                      35,036,418,048 bytes

Average Bitrate: 27.99 + 28.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:  Part 1

 DVD

Bitrate: Part 1

Blu-ray

Bitrate: Part 2

 DVD

Bitrate: Part 2

Blu-ray

Audio English/Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)  DTS-HD Master Audio English 3629 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3629 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 3631 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3631 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround

DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 3516 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3516 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 + 1.78

Edition Details:

• New audio commentaries featuring Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
• Making “Che,” a new documentary featuring Soderbergh, producer Laura Bickford, actor-producer Benicio del Toro, and writers Peter Buchman and Ben van der Veen
• Interviews with participants in and historians of the Cuban Revolution and Che’s Bolivian campaign
• End of a Revolution, a short documentary made in Bolivia right after Che’s execution in 1967
• “Che” and the Digital Cinema Revolution, an original video piece looking at the RED camera and its effect on modern film production
• Deleted scenes
• Theatrical trailer
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Amy Taubin  


DVD
Release Date: January 19th, 2010
Custom Case (see below photo)
Chapters:
42 + 44

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Disc Sizes: 48,163,658,073 bytes

                  49,725,256,605 bytes

Feature Sizes: 37,981,077,504 bytes

                      35,036,418,048 bytes

Average Bitrate: 27.99 + 28.99 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• New audio commentaries featuring Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life
• Making “Che,” a new documentary featuring Soderbergh, producer Laura Bickford, actor-producer Benicio del Toro, and writers Peter Buchman and Ben van der Veen
• Interviews with participants in and historians of the Cuban Revolution and Che’s Bolivian campaign
• End of a Revolution, a short documentary made in Bolivia right after Che’s execution in 1967 (25:52)
• “Che” and the Digital Cinema Revolution, an original video piece looking at the RED camera and its effect on modern film production
• Deleted scenes (15:30 + 5:22)
• Theatrical trailer (2:30)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Amy Taubin

Blu-ray Release Date: January 19th, 2010

2 standard transparent
Blu-ray cases inside cardboard box
Chapters: 42 + 44

 

DVD package

 

1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray - January 10': For both editions the 4.5 hour film is spread over two dual-layered discs - one for each 'part' - in their respective disc formats. The first part is in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the second is 1.78. I began to appreciate the film as the first part started rolling - around 1 1/2 hours in. I found it a bit confusing up until that point but when they get into the more active part of the revolution it seemed clearer. Personally, I found the second part dragged quite a lot but can appreciate Soderbergh's ambitious attempt although I don't know that he pulls it off with total success.

The Blu-ray looks quite good - a bit glossy at times. 'Che' was the first feature to utilize the 'Red' camera at 4K resolution (debatable) - exclusively in the 2nd part - which Soderbergh states that he likes for its versatility and image quality. It was eventually put totally to digital. The first part has a more historical look (late 50's) with a lot of black and white cinematography - at times, intentionally grainy and including some archival footage. These effects are are more exemplified on the 1080P rendering and emulating effects well on digital. Overall the disparity is not as great as we have seen in the past between the two editions. I found this to be more true with the 'Red Camera' shot scenes which look very good on SD-DVD and also very strong on Blu-ray. I don't own any other editions of 'Che' on disc (there is a Blu-ray from Optimum Home Entertainment in the UK - available HERE) but trust that the Criterion is a strong representation of the original theatrical look. The Blu-ray is sharper, colors don't vary too much between editions, intentional grain is more visible and noise less apparent. Some scenes on the second disc are quite striking. As typical there is a smidgeon more information in the frame on the hi-def transfer. There is some depth in the visuals - seen more so in the countryside - shot in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and in part 2; Bolivia and Spain. Both looks quite good and, obviously, the Blu-ray with roughly 5x the bitrate is more recommendable visually. It is also $5 cheaper.      

 

On the Blu-ray the lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master tracks range around 3629 kbps and seem flawless. Separations offered some subtleties and there are a few robust explosions - Predictably the DVD 5.1 seems flatter and may have been more of a diversity as compared to the video portion of the two formats. This again seems typical. Alberto Iglesias has the score for both parts and it is sparingly utilized - giving the biopic a more verité feel. When it comes into play it sounds quite good - and mostly understated. Part one has an optional English or Spanish voiceover for the narration and the English choice of subtitles is only for the, more prevalent, Spanish dialogue - it does not enact for the English spoken parts. 

As usual, extras are duplicated on both releases with the Blu-ray offering the additional 'Timeline' feature. The DVD has a 3rd disc holding the supplemental featurettes. The new audio commentaries, exclusive for Criterion, featuring Jon Lee Anderson, chief consultant on Che and author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life is the perfect choice. It is always a pleasure to hear someone talk who implicitly knows their subject matter. It, Predictably, leans more to the historical - and I respected that. He gives further appreciation of Che Guevara's short life as a guerrilla fighter, ideologue, and world leader. Making “Che,” is a new documentary featuring interview with Soderbergh, producer Laura Bickford, actor-producer Benicio del Toro, and writers Peter Buchman and Ben van der Veen. It runs almost 50-minutes and is in HD on the Blu-ray. The Part one Blu-ray disc also offers deleted scenes for 15.5 minutes with optional commentary by Soderbergh and an HD theatrical trailer for 2.5 minutes. These are relegated to the third DVD disc. End of a Revolution is a 26-minute documentary made in Bolivia right after Che’s execution in 1967 by Brian Moser. 'Interviews from Cuba' consists of participants in and historians of the Cuban Revolution and Che’s Bolivian campaign - it runs an interesting 23-minutes. “Che and the Digital Cinema Revolution, an original 33-minute video piece looking at the RED camera and its effect on modern film production. Some will be quite keen to see this and the production details associated. Finally there is a 22-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Amy Taubin and some details on the disc productions. Ohh... there is also a small poster of the film included.

This is a film I can appreciate for the extensive historical detail that went into the production. I learned a heck of a lot but I think the pacing may have been the elusive component that could have brought this to the next level. Certainly the performances were magnificent but strangely this might have been a better, more impacting film at half the length of the 4  1/2 hour dual parts. Perhaps it need to cover certain details to be faithful to Guevara's Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War and Bolivian Diary but much of this was probably lost on me. The protagonist is seen as a strong charismatic leader who, often quietly, led by example. The Blu-ray is the, obvious, way to go. It would help if you had, at least, some interest in the topic but regardless I can pretty much guarantee you will be educated - from that standpoint this is an exceptionally appealing piece of work.    

Gary W. Tooze

 



Menus

 

1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD LEFT

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray RIGHT


Extras


Screen Captures

 

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

 

 

1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 


1) Criterion  - Region 1 - NTSC DVD TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

 


DVD Box Cover

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine # 496 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine # 496 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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