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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'The Bird with the Crystal Plumage' or 'L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo' or 'Bird with the Glass Feathers' or 'The Gallery Murders' or 'Point of Terror'')

Dario Argento
Italy | West Germany 1970

 

In his first film as writer/director, Dario Argento (Suspira, Deep Red, Two Evil Eyes) single-handedly created the Giallo genre and instantly emerged as the filmmaker critics worldwide hailed as 'The Italian Hitchcock.' Tony Musante (The Detective, The Fugitive) and Suzy Kendall (Spasmo, Torso) star in this pulse-pounding suspense thriller about an American writer in Rome who witnesses - and is helpless to stop - a brutal assault, the cunning vengeance of a maniac, and the heart-stopping horror that lives - and kills - deep in the dark.

***

This is Dario Argento's directorial debut and with it, he pretty much put Giallo movies on the map. That's how potent and influential this movie turned out to be. The premise is nothing special: an American writer in Rome sees a murder attempt but is helpless to try and stop it, and so gets entangled in the investigation to stop the murderer. The premise is not so important as how everything plays out.

From his first movie, Mr. Argento showed he was a master of both atmosphere and suspense. One scene goes to show how he crafts a simple murder. A girl walks home alone. She enters her building and looks up at the stairs. The triangular-shaped stairwell rises, floor after floor, into the darkness. She walks up the stairs, moving in and out of shadows created by the oddly-shaped stairwell. Her own shadow moves across the wall, with simple shots creating eerie suspense where other directors would use music and slick editing to help raise the heartbeat.

Instead of these things, Mr. Argento uses point of view shots, limiting what we can see, only seeing through characters' eyes. We know someone is following this poor woman, but when we see through her eyes, we don't know where he is, or even if he's still peering around trees and walls.

***

Mention has to go to cinematographer extraordinaire Vittorio Storaro, who paints a wonderful vision. Dario Argento is, firstly, a visual director, but this would be nothing without a great cinematographer capable of filming what the director desires. Mr. Storaro is up to the challenge and helps create a visual feast of a story. Every scene is framed the way it should be to create maximum impact. The critical scene with Suzy Kendall alone in her apartment shows how the cinematography is used to create incredible suspense. With a just of a few shots of Mrs. Kendall's face, a knife and a small hole in a door, my heart was pounding.

This scene is also helped out with the pitch-perfect music and the razor-sharp editing. The pacing in that scene is spot-on to create enough tension so that the release is a definite catharsis of all the pent-up energy. Ennio Morricone's wonderful (though slightly dated) score, with its unorthodox use of voices, and Franco Fraticelli's tight editing combine with Mr. Argento's assured directing to create a great cinematic experience so perfect I don't remember a scene so wonderfully executed. Remember, this is Mr. Argento's directorial debut.

Pat Pilon for DVDBeaver

Posters

Theatrical Release: 12 June 1970 (USA)

Reviews                                                                        More Reviews                                                                 DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL vs. Arrow (2011)- Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Arrow (2017)- Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

  

 

VCI coming out with their Blu-ray in September 2013:

   

Also available on Blu-ray in the UK by Arrow:

Distribution 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray
Runtime 1:32:25 (4% PAL speedup)  1:35:49.744  1:36:30.826   1:36:44.882  
Video 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.53 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.0:1 Disc Size: 31,580,186,369 bytes

Feature Size: 21,641,730,048 bytes

Average Bitrate: 23.78 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

2.35:1 Disc Size: 34,090,175,527 bytes

Feature Size: 30,704,007,168 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.42 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

2.35:1 Disc Size: 48,439,628,384 bytes

Feature Size: 28,321,746,048 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.686 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

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

Bitrate o2 Distribution:

Bitrate Arrow (original) Blu-ray:

Bitrate Blue Underground Blu-ray:

Bitrate Arrow 4K Blu-ray:

Audio Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)   DTS Audio English 1509 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: DTS Audio English 1509 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit
DTS Audio Italian 1509 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3427 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 3427 kbps / 24-bit
(DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1551 kbps 7.1 / 48 kHz / 1551 kbps / 16-bit
(AC3 Core: 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 448 kbps)
Dolby Digital EX Audio English 448 kbps 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital EX Audio Italian 448 kbps 5.1-EX / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1046 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1046 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 1038 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1038 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
 

Subtitles None

English, None

English, None English (SDH), and none
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:
Commentary by Farley Granger and Eddie Muller
• Featurette: They Live By Night: The Twisted Road
Theatrical trailer  


DVD Release Date: July 31st, 200
7
5 standard cases inside a cardboard box
Chapters:
various

 

Release Information:
Studio: Arrow (2011)

Aspect Ratio:
2.0:1 Disc Size: 31,580,186,369 bytes

Feature Size: 21,641,730,048 bytes

Average Bitrate: 23.78 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

 

Edition Details:

Audio Commentary with Kim Newman and Alan Jones
Brand new High Definition restoration of the film from the original negative presented in Director of Photography, Vittorio Storaro's original 2:1 Univisium aspect ratio
4 Sleeve art options with original and newly commissioned artwork
Two-sided fold-out poster
Exclusive collector's booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Alan Jones, author of Profondo Argento
A Crystal Classic: Luigi Cozzi Remembers Dario's Bloody Bird (15:02 in 1080p)
Sergio Martino: The Genesis of the Giallo (29:04 in 1080p)
The Italian Hitchcock: Dario Argento Remembers The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (15:15 in 1080p)

 

Blu-ray release date: May 23rd, 2011
3-teired digipak inside cardboard case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Video: Blue Underground
 

2.35:1 Disc Size: 34,090,175,527 bytes

Feature Size: 30,704,007,168 bytes

Average Bitrate: 32.42 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Edition Details:

Audio Commentary with Journalists Alan Jones and Kim Newman
Out of the Shadows: Interview with co-writer/director Dario Argento (17:56)
The Music of Murder: Interview with composer Ennio Morricone (7:32)
Painting with Darkness: Interview with cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (10:04)
Eva's Talking: Interview with Eva Renzi (11:21)
U.S. Trailer
Italian Trailer
TV Spots

 

Chapters: 26
Blu-ray release date: February 24th, 2009 

Release Information:

Arrow (2017)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35:1 Disc Size: 48,439,628,384 bytes

Feature Size: 28,321,746,048 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.686 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

 

Edition Details:
New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
The Power of Perception, a new visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil s Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study (20:57)
Black Gloves and Screaming Mimis - New analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger
(31:54)
Crystal Nightmare - New interview with writer/director Dario Argento (31:24)
An Argento icon - New interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp) (22:05)

Eva's Talking: Interview with Eva Renzi (11:19)

Italian trailer (3:11)

International Trailer (2:48)

2017 Texas Frightmare Trailer (0:56)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp

Double-sided fold-out poster
6 Lobby Card reproductions
• Limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook

DVD

Blu-ray Release Date:  June 13th - 19th, 2017
Custom
Blu-ray Case (see image below)
Chapters: 12

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Arrow (2017) - Region FREE - Blu-ray: This is cited as a "Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the camera negative in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release". The most notable visual features of this new 4K restored Blu-ray as opposed to the previous releases are two fold - the colors are both warmer (very notable with flesh tones) and they are richer - looking lush and deep. It can look a shade blue but also loses the greenish-grey hue of the Blue Underground. Looking closely, the original 2.35:1 framing is appreciated (Arrow's first kick at the can was Storaro's 2.0:1) and we can see it shows more information in the frame - on all four sides as compared to the other releases. This is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. Some individuals will endlessly debate about the authenticity of a Blu-ray image but I can only tell you this looks stunningly beautiful. Colors are so rich and Giallo-esque - looking opulent, evoking baroque or rococo - intense, stylistic but never embellished. A brilliant 1080P video presentation - so suitable to the film that we feel surely the 4K restoration has the most accuracy of all digital releases. 

Audio is transferred via a faithful linear PCM mono tracks at 1000 kbps (24-bit) in the Italian and English languages. Effects are often overshadowed by the film's music and score by the iconic Ennio Morricone (Luna, A Bullet for the General, Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, U Turn, Stay As You Are etc. etc.) establishing and supporting the film's appealing style. It's authentically flat, buoyant and clean. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

Arrow include many new extras - we get a new audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films. He is always excellent exporting details of the performers and especially Argento - who is pulls no punches about his difficulties as a filmmaker and getting along with actors. It's very rewarding to listen to. The Power of Perception, is a new, 21-minutes, visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil s Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study and it, too, is wonderful for fans of Giallo and this film in particular. Black Gloves and Screaming Mimis - is a new 1/2 hour analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger. Crystal Nightmare is a new interview with writer/director Dario Argento. An Argento icon -is a new 22-minute interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp) and he discusses working with Argento and his own career. Eva's Talking: is a dozen-minute interview with Eva Renzi as also found on the Blue Underground. There are an Italian trailer, an International Trailer and a new 2017 Texas Frightmare Trailer for the restoration. The package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp and contains a double-sided fold-out poster, 6 Lobby Card reproductions and a limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook. A second disc DVD is included.

This is, obviously the Blu-ray to own - what an incredible package, for Giallo fans or those in the making! - our highest recommendation!

***

ADDITION: Blue Underground - Region FREE - Blu-ray: One should be willing to accept grain over detail in this 1970 classic. I thought the Blu-ray image looked grand and obviously superior to the DVD (reviewed HERE by Pat Pilon). Both detail and the visibility of heavy grain are the most remarkable improvements over the SD digital rendering. I had the feeling there was some brightness boosting as colors seemed almost overly vibrant but I could find evidence of digital manipulation. While noise exists I won't say it was an issue with no clunky artifacts to distract from the curious Argento visuals. Fans should just beware that it appears all that could be done with this image quality has been achieved here. Even the restored source can't accurately make it look sharper than it originally was. For those keen on grain - it is here in abundance. Blue Underground have done well with over 30 Gig of space for the feature on this dual-layered Blu-ray disc with a healthy bitrate. Outdoor scenes are bright and contrast subtleties seem captured effectively by the MPEG-4 encode. This Blu-ray has a thick textured appearance probably very adeptly resembling the theatrical appearance. Once again - nothing leads me to believe that this transfer is anything but a solid effort at reproducing an important genre film for home presentations. It is far from HD-demo material but the colors, improved detail and high level of grain make for a very satisfying viewing.

Like the DVD there is a funky English DUB offered. On this Blu-ray we get boosted mixes in DTS and TrueHD but I preferred the Italian Dolby Digital EX with yellow subtitles (NOTE: the subs don't accurately follow the DUBs). This film won't be remembered for the pristine effect sounds but probably more so for Ennio Morricone's delicate and lurking original score. I didn't note a lot of deft separation but a little can go a long way with a film like this. Italian post-Dubs are always noted for being a bit scattered and this is another case in point. Still - all part of the Giallo charm and although only English as a subtitle option, like the DVD, this release is Region FREE. NOTE: There is no 'flat' track for purists..

Duplicated from the 2-disc Blue Underground DVD set from 2005 and we will hearken to Pat's description (from HERE). "The extras are all quite interesting. The commentary is informative, if a bit repetitive and scattered. The two gentlemen give out a lot of ideas and add to the movie. The four interviews are great and add a great deal of information and context to the movie." NOTE: the first three interviews are in Italian with English subs optional and for followers of Argento, Storaro or Morricone - they amount to decent information - if fairly short pieces. Beyond that there are trailers and TV Spots.

A seminal Giallo from one of the masters. The Blu-ray exceeded my expectations and produced a rewarding and enjoyable presentation of this classic. I think this has good value for just over $20, but fans will need a higher-end system to take full advantage of the stronger differences to the DVD - but I can vouch that they definitely exist and grain lovers will be in nirvana.

***

ADDITION: Arrow (2011) - Region FREE - Blu-ray: We had been informed in email prior to seeing the release that "...there is more cropping on the left than the right, Storaro has recolored the film, the viewfinder crop marks are missing from the still photo POV scenes and those stills have been recolored in black and white (they have always been in color)." Yes - it appears Storaro has set the film to his preferred 2.0:1 aspect ratio and a lot of information is missing from the left edge. Colors are also different in many scenes - skin tones cool off. The Arrow has almost 2/3rds the bitrate of the Blue Underground transfer. Either way you cut it - we are losing information from the frame. Detail, grain and depth go to the Blue Underground. It was interesting seeing The Bird With the Crystal Plumage in this aspect ratio and I can certainly say it changes the film's impact.

In short I think the Blue Underground wins on the DUB front with decent mixes but the Arrow offers a lossless Italian track - in stereo (Morricone's score is still notable). This may be the most accurate for purists but for those seeking depth and range the U.S. disc's DUB has some surprising power and stealth. Both have the optional English subtitles and both are region FREE.

Same good Newman/Jones commentary and we get three 1080P documentaries totalling 1 hour; A Crystal Classic: Luigi Cozzi Remembers Dario's Bloody Bird (15:02), Sergio Martino: The Genesis of the Giallo (29:04), The Italian Hitchcock: Dario Argento Remembers The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (15:15). I liked the last one best but all have some good info. Also included is a 4 Sleeve art options with original and newly commissioned artwork, a two-sided fold-out poster and an exclusive collector's booklet featuring brand new writing on the film by Alan Jones, author of Profondo Argento.

Well, I think the Arrow is an interesting package and hard core Argento fans may wish to indulge simply for the new Storaro A/R judging the film experience for themselves. It does make for a big difference in my opinion. Nice to have the original audio uncompressed and the extras (although repeated commentary) are worthy. So, the release has a lot going for it and those adamant can debate the flagrant and subtle differences visually ad nauseum.

***

ON THE Italian DVD: 01 Distribution's reissue of BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE is a disappointment. The non-anamorphic, single-layer transfer begins at 2.35:1 for the titles and then is cropped to 1.85:1 for the rest of the feature. The cropping is ruinous to Vittorio Storaro's compositions (see capture 4 for the missing cropped framelines of the still camera POV).

Italian mono audio is okay. Reviews of the Medusa DVD suggested that it had the best picture before the 2-perf sourced HD master used for the Blue Underground releases. The Medusa disc featured mono and 5.1 Italian tracks, a mono English track, and subtitles in English and Italian. Italian viewers would be better served by either the old Medusa disc or the Blue Underground Blu-ray or SD-DVD which also featured the Italian track in 5.1 EX, surround, and mono (in addition to DTS-ES English, 5.1 EX, surround, and mono).

There are no extras on the Distribution 01 disc.

Obviously, AVOID the 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL release!  

Gary W. Tooze

 

 


DVD Menus
 

 

Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray

 

 

Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray

 

 

Arrow (2017)  - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray

 

Troy Howarth's favorite Giallo line:

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL TOP

2) Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray SECOND

3) Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Box Covers

  

 

VCI coming out with their Blu-ray in September 2013:

   

Also available on Blu-ray in the UK by Arrow:

Distribution 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL Arrow Video (2011) - Region FREE Blu-ray Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray Arrow (2017) - Region FREE Blu-ray

 




 

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