S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
The Bird With the Crystal Plumage aka L'Uccello dalle piume di cristallo [Blu-ray]
(Dario Argento, 1970)
Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray vs. 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL vs. Arrow Video - Region FREE Blu-ray
Review by Gary Tooze
Video:Blue Underground / O1 Dist. / Arrow Video
Runtime: 1:36:30.826 1:32:25 (4% PAL speedup)1:35:49.744
Disc Size: 34,090,175,527 bytes /31,580,186,369 bytes
Feature Size: 30,704,007,168 bytes /21,641,730,048 bytes
Average Bitrate: 32.42 Mbps Average Bitrate: 5.53 mb/s23.78 Mbps
Chapters: 26 /12
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: February 24th, 2009May 23rd, 2011
Aspect ratio: 2.35:11.85:1 2.0:1
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
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
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono)
DTS Audio English 1509 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps /
Audio Commentary with Journalists Alan Jones and Kim Newman
• 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
Description: THE STUNNING DEBUT BY DARIO ARGENTO - THE
ITALIAN MASTER OF TERROR
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.
Theatrical Release: 12 June 1970 (USA)
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.
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.
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).
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.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
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.
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).
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.
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.
There are no extras on the Distribution 01 disc.
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.
Blue Underground - Region FREE Blu-ray
Arrow Video - Region FREE Blu-ray
Obviously, AVOID the 01 Distribution - Region 2 - PAL release!
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.
February 18th, 2009
February 21st, 2010
May 11th, 2011
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be
it, but film will always be my first love and I list my
favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible
Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player
Gary W. Tooze