(as verified by the
Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 23,542,306,088 bytes
Feature Size: 23,298,127,872 bytes
Average Bitrate: 17.39 Mbps
Case: Thicker (UK) Blu-ray case
Release date: November 12th, 2007
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Video codec: VC-1 Video
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps /
The Movie : 8
If you fancy stories about misguided, obsessive and
unrequited love, you might just take to Twenty Thousand
Streets Under the Sky, an adaptation of Patrick
Hamilton's trilogy of novellas, faithfully adapted and
evocatively staged for BBC television by Kevin Elyot and
Simon Curtis. Hamilton, for those who don't recognize the
name, is a highly respected British writer of novels and
dramas, including "Gaslight" "Rope" and "Hangover Square."
Set between the two great wars, three young people in
overlapping stories meet or work separately and together at
a London Soho pub. Bob and Ella have separate rooms above
the pub where Bob is a waiter and Ella, a barmaid. Ella
(Sally Hawkins), a sweet and loving, but rather homely girl,
pines for Bob (Bryan Dick), a charmer who, in turn, has his
eye on Jenny, a local prostitute. Each story (or "episode"
as the IMDb puts it carelessly) focuses on each of the three
"lovers" in turn (if the IMDb can do it, why not I?)
In "The Midnight Bell," despite Jenny's repeated broken
promises to meet him at an arranged time or to give up
walking the streets in favor finding a "real" job, Bob doles
out what money he has saved. He has little to show for his
efforts except a dwindling bank account. Jenny, for her
part, never leads Bob on, without first reminding him of
what she is. What she is and how she got that way is
heartbreakingly told in her story "The Siege of Pleasure"
(which has to be one of the great titles in literature). In
"The Plains of Cement" Ella is surprised to be pursued by a
dapper, elderly gentleman (Philip Davis) of means.
It may be that seventy or eighty years later, we may have
become cynical and desensitized to innocence led astray,
especially in that these stories offer few surprises. The
writing has a certain fatalistic poetry about it, however,
with repeating stanzas that ring like the bell for which the
opening story is named (actually, it's the name of the pub
itself). The acting is always first rate, as we have come
to expect from BBC television. In addition to the
principals, there are perfectly realized performances from
Neil Stuke as the man who leads unsuspecting Jenny into one
glass of port too many; Philip Davis as Mr. Eccles, a
rapidly cycling Hyde and Jekyll; and Susan Wooldridge
(Daphne Manners in The Jewel in the Crown) as Ella's
abused mother. In a few lines and as many seconds of screen
time these pros conjure up a complete persona for our
protagonists to try to make their way.
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
Despite its 1080i resolution at a lowish bitrate, its two
and a half hours complete on a single layered disc, this BBC
2/entertain pleases, even if it fails to define the medium.
The image is on the soft side, contrast is intentionally
squashed, noise is minimal, but transfer issues are not
distressing. I suspect an increase of 60-70% in the bit
rate might have made for a denser image, which would have
been appreciated. Color is reminiscent of hand painted
photographs of the period, with a light rosiness to flesh
tones that suggests the artifice of life, rather than its
CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio & Music : 6/8
The LCPM stereo mix is probably all that is needed to render
the low-key drama in a naturalistic manner. There is no
attempt to punch up dynamics or create a surround where one
did not exist in the original [production – though in the
various pubs especially I messed a sense of ambience.
Dialogue is properly sized and positioned and clear enough
to not require subtitles, except for clarifying the slang.
I wonder if the frequent use of original period pop music
was a deciding factor in not enhancing the mix.
Operations : 5
As if to confirm the notion of "episodes," full credits are
played at the end of each story, plus a brief recap that
precedes parts two and three. This makes a certain sense if
the stories are to be viewed on different nights as they
might have been in their original airing (sorry, I wasn't
able to find out), but for home video, it would have more
sense to have its Play All function shown seamlessly, with
full credits at the end of the last. The fact that each
part is only fifty minutes almost demands it.
Extras : 0
Only a small uninteresting photo gallery – not even a little
piece on Patrick Hamilton.
Recommendation : 7
Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky
isn't going to blow anyone away with obscure, profound
insights about the human condition. On the contrary, the
three stories function more as fables, each revealing
familiar foibles that most, if not all of us have fallen
into at one time or another. Performances and production
are all very good. The art direction, costumes and
photography with its desaturated lighting evoke the period
and the relatively hopeless lives of its inhabitants. The
1080i image and LPCM audio are adequate but, alas, there are
no extras – and there should have been. Amazon.co.uk is
practically giving this title away just now for £6.48!
March 5th, 2009