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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

directed by Derek Jarman
UK 1993

Blue, Derek Jarman's final film, was made as he was dying of AIDS and blind, his vision hijacked by constant blue light. For its entire duration, the screen is filled with the color blue and nothing more, while Jarman, with voice contributions from frequent collaborators Tilda Swinton, John Quentin, and Nigel Terry, weaves a poetic, angry, wistful, and sometimes humorous account of his illness and impending mortality. He speaks of having become a "walking laboratory," taking up to thirty pills a day, of the chore of hospital waiting rooms, of the brusque indifference of medical personnel, of the hypocrisy of charity, and of the color blue. Jarman's voice is commanding. This is not an informal affair. He often speaks in verse, augmented with music and sound by Jarman's regular composer Simon Fisher-Turner, as well as Brian Eno, Coil, Momus, The King of Luxembourg, and others, forming an atmospheric wall of sound that is the film's imagery and is constructed in a highly cinematic way, with abrupt shifts in texture and tone. (The short-lived ambient sketch-comedy radio program Blue Jam created a similar mood.) Jarman invokes a sense of journey within the viewer, and the effect is hypnotic and moving. You walk away from it with total identification with Jarman, and once your eyes return to the corporeal world, it's as though sight has been restored. In terms of form, this movie is as bold as anything Jarman has done.

If the 1990s was largely defined by the mainstreaming of AIDS, Blue is a key film from that decade. Like Wim Wenders' Lightning Over Water, about the dying of Nicholas Ray, Blue is a naked portrait of a dying artist, although it is perhaps more intimate in that it originates from within. Blue goes further toward demystifying AIDS than straightforward documentary content has done, and Jarman is not nor was ever shy about retaining his sexual identity in spite of the stigma of his disease, the politics of which he address here with frank combativeness. In an ideal world, it is Blue and not the contrived and didactic Kids that would have made a splash as a provocative document of the modern epidemic—although, in an ideal world, neither film would be necessary. The fact that Jarman's final film hardly registered a dent is evidence that the medium of cinema has failed.

Paul Haynes

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 3, 1993 (United States)

Reviews                                                                                  More Reviews

 

Comparison: 

Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL vs. Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Thanks to Per-olof Strandberg for the AE Screen Caps!

1) Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray- RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

 

Already available from BFI, on Blu-ray, in the UK:

Bonus Captures:

Distribution

Dolmen Home Video

Region 2 - PAL

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:14.28 (4% PAL speedup) 1:15:39 (4% PAL speedup) 1:16:16.863     
Video

175:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.19 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1:1.78 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7,32 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,556,095,378 bytes

Feature: 24,721,201,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate: Dolmen

Bitrate: Artificial Eye

Bitrate: Kino / Zeitgeist Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0), Italian 1.0 (Dolby Digital 1.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0) DTS-HD Master Audio English 3886 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3886 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2012 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2012 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Subtitles Italian, None None English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Dolmen Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.75:1

Edition Details:
• Filmographies

DVD Release Date: 07/15/04
Keep Case

Chapters 22

Release Information:
Studio: Artificial Eye

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1:1.78

Edition Details:
• Glitterbug (53:13 / 4:3)
• Biographies
• DVD-9

DVD Release Date: 23 Jul 2007
Keep Case

Chapters 8

Release Information:
Studio:
Kino / Zeitgeist

 

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,556,095,378 bytes

Feature: 24,721,201,152 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.93 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

Bliss (1991 concert recording of the project that would become Blue) (39:17 - audio-only)
David Lewis Remembers Blue (13:34)
Derek Jarman Blue Plaque Unveiling in London (2:11)
The Garden Trailer (1:32)
Glitterbug (1994, a compilation of Derek Jarman's home movies, scored by Brian Eno) (44:50)
Hard to Imagine (John Maybury recalls Jarman's journey towards Blue) (8:23)
James Mackay Remembers Blue (14:40)
Simon Fisher Turner Remembers Blue (8:00)


Blu-ray Release Date:
August 27th, 2019
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 11

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Kino / Zeitgeist Blu-ray (August 2019): Kino / Zeitgeist have transferred Derek Jarman's Blue to Blu-ray. It is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. The blue color seems the lightest of the three compared and it does seem very consistent (although it is very hard to stare at the screen for over an hour.) It is also in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The higher resolution provides a very seamless transfer. The hue is not a 'power blue' and is quite calming in 1080P. As Michael Brooke specified in your FB Group: "We can be absolutely precise about what Jarman wanted because he specified IKB (International Klein Blue) 79."

NOTE: 30 more full resolution (1920 X 1080) Blu-ray captures for Patrons are available HERE.

On their Blu-ray, Kino / Zeitgeist offer the option of DTS-HD Master 2.0 and 5.1 surround tracks (24-bit) with the narration and dialogue in the original English language. Effects have depth and there is a supportive score by Simon Fisher-Turner (Edward II, Claire Dolan) plus Triennale composed and performed by Brian Eno, Karol Szymanowski's 'Scheherazade' from 'The Masques' performed by Jan Latham-Koenig, Disco Hospital written and performed by Coil & Danny Hyde, Erik Satie's beautiful Gnossienne No. 1. The music sounds impressive. This is a significant improvement over lossy audio of the DVDs. Kino / Zeitgeist offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

The Kino / Zeitgeist Blu-ray has supplements which include Bliss - 40-minutes of audio of the1991 concert recording of the project that would become Blue. There are 3 separate segments from producers David Lewis + James Mackay and composer Simon Fisher-Turner remembering Blue - the evolution, the production, Derek and much more. It is great and runs in total about 35-minute. There is a short Derek Jarman Blue Plaque Unveiling in London, a The Garden trailer and the 3/4 hour Glitterbug - the 1994 a compilation of Derek Jarman's home movies, scored by Brian Eno against archival footage. Wonderful. Hard to Imagine is 8-minutes on how John Maybury recalled Jarman's journey towards Blue.

Blue seems to effect me more every time I see it. The lossless audio make the presentation even more impacting. The Blu-ray does the best job by a long-shot. Blue can be both mesmerizing and contemplative. I reflect on art and my own mortality. A unsung masterpiece. 

Gary Tooze

***

ADDITION: Artificial Eye - March 08': I'm quite sure that Artificial-Eye have recycled their master tape (probably analog betacam) made for their VHS release in 1993. This old transfer is made from an used cinema copy, and is full of dirt, dust, and reel change mark's every 20 minute. The closer the reel change is, the more dirt is visible. In a close look the image is full of artefacts, and it's quite annoying to watch it with a projector. Based on the opening and closing credits the transfer seems to be quite soft, but it doesn't disturb as the image is only blue. Compared to the Italian release (that seems to be a disaster), the Artificial-Eye is superior, and has more accurate color.

NOTE: The screen caps are not exact matches. I tried to find "problems" on the AE disc. I'm sure that there are even more problems in the Italian release. The point is that they have recycled an old master tape. Even tough the amount of dirt is limited, it's disturbing in a film that should have only one color. The dirt looks bigger than if there was live action on it. People who want to view / listen to the film shouldn't be afraid to by this disc. The main thing is the sound, and it's clean from dirt, and sounds probably as intended.

The Artificial-Eye DVD has as extra material Derek Jarman's last film, Glitterbug, shot on Super-8.

 - Per-Olof Strandberg

ON THE DOLMEN: You'd think it'd be kind of hard to screw up a DVD issue of Derek Jarman's Blue, but Italian distributor Dolmen has managed to find a way. This transfer is obviously culled from a VHS. While the whole film is simply the color blue, bookended by credits, artefacts are nonetheless present throughout, with visible analog noise and rolling horizontal lines. Furthermore, the audio is monaural (the English soundtrack, fortunately, sounds a lot richer than the Italian dub), which is not the way the film was originally mixed (the theatrical release was Dolby SR). The ideal way to present this on DVD would be either a 3-channel mix or a 5-channel mix, with Jarman's voice isolated in the center channel, and music and effects given to the peripheral channels. But since this disc, which is barebones and no better than a homemade VHS port, is mono, the words that are spoken are frequently unintelligible, drowned out by the music.

Complaining about a bad transfer of Blue might seem comical to some, but Jarman's intent was for the viewer to see a blue void for 70-odd minutes. While 35mm prints undoubtedly displayed speckles and other damage, the inescapable feeling that you're watching video when looking at this disc diminishes the effect a lot more than some scratches would have.

 - Paul Haynes

 



DVD Menus
 

(Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)
 

 

Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample - Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

1) Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray- BOTTOM

 

 


1) Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray- BOTTOM

 


1) Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray- BOTTOM

 

 


1) Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray- BOTTOM

 


1) Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray- BOTTOM

 

 


1) Dolmen Home Video - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Artificial Eye - Region 2 - PAL MIDDLE

3) Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray- BOTTOM

 

 

More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE

 

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 

 

 
Box Cover

 

 

Already available from BFI, on Blu-ray, in the UK:

Bonus Captures:

Distribution

Dolmen Home Video

Region 2 - PAL

Artificial Eye

Region 2 - PAL

Kino / Zeitgeist - Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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Gary Tooze

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