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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Red Riding Trilogy [Blu-ray]


(Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Channel Four Film / Screen Yorkshire

Video: IFC



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:46:13.116 +  1:44:41.316 + 1:37:29.051

Disc Size: 46,748,921,451 bytes

74' Feature Size: 15,823,927,296 bytes

80' Feature Size: 15,606,577,152 bytes

83' Feature Size: 14,551,400,448 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.99 Mbps

Chapters: 19 / 21 / 19

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 30th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 1.85 + 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps



English (SDH), Spanish, none



on a separate, single-layered, DVD:

• 1974 - TV Spot (:55), Julian Jarrold Interview (11:25), Deleted Scenes (7:10)

1980 - TV Spot (1:02), Making of... (18:45), Deleted Scenes (6:48)

• 1983 - TV Spot (:51), Making of... (6:40), Deleted Scenes (8:07)

• Trilogy: Theatrical trailer (2:29), TV Spot (:31), Behind the Scenes (3:01)





Description: Red Riding is a television adaptation of English author David Peace's Red Riding Quartet. Published between 1999 and 2002, the quartet comprises the novels Nineteen Seventy-Four (1999), Nineteen Seventy-Seven (2000), Nineteen Eighty (2001) and Nineteen Eighty-Three (2002). Set against a backdrop of serial murders, including the Yorkshire Ripper case, they deal with multi-layered corruption and feature several recurring characters across the four books. Though real crimes are featured the scripts are fictionalised and dramatised versions of events rather than contemporary factual accounts.

The adaptation into three feature-length television episodes aired on Channel 4 beginning on 5 March 2009. They are produced by Revolution Films. The three films were released theatrically in the US in February 2010. (from Wikipedia HERE)



The Film:

It's not the five-hours-plus length of this trio of devastatingly bleak modern British noir films that's daunting. Far from it. Strongly made by three different directors with three different crews but using scripts from the same writer and the same cast for its recurring characters, these films are put together with so much ability and skill that the time simply melts away.

Rather, the hard paradox of this project is that what makes these merciless films at times almost unbearable to watch also makes them frankly impossible to get out of your mind. Not only do they create a gritty, compelling world thick with the fetid air of venality, corruption and desperation, but they also periodically traffic in ghastly and horrific torture, sometimes shown, sometimes merely described, but always circling back to a series of sadistic, soul-destroying murders of women and little girls.

All this and more comes from a quartet of intense, chaotic novels by David Peace ("fictions torn from facts that illuminate the truth," he says) that in turn were inspired by events surrounding northern England's real-life Yorkshire Ripper murders.

Excerpt from Kenneth Turan's review at the LA Times located HERE


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

Firstly, the package consists of one Blu-ray disc with the three feature films - Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 19XX - (over 5 hours worth) and a second disc - a DVD with supplement features.


Red Riding is a creepy stylized trilogy - made in 2009. Perhaps as a choice - the image quality improves through the decade in which the events transpire. Art direction is quite good and the, 1.85:1, 1974 segment looks grittier and less sharp - this improves with superior detail through the similarly framed 1980 episode and gets downright glossy for 2.35:1 aspect ratio 83' segment - maybe even too glossy. I don't have evidence that these were intentional production choices but it would seem logical. With over 5 hours of material on the dual-layered disc compression is 'pushed' and colors seem a bit dull but daylight scenes are much more impressive. This Blu-ray exports a clean, un-tampered, feel but at the lower end of the scale for 1080P brilliance although 83' does show some depth of field. Part of the obvious appeal here is having the entire trilogy on one disc - but with that comes a price. Overall, the image quality seems to be in-line with what those who have seen it previously might anticipate - slight improvement in detail grading upwards through the 3 segments and superior to the already released SD-DVD versions.


NOTE: Sent in email - (thanks Max!) "Just read your Red Riding review. The first film was shot on Super 16, the second on 35mm and the third one digitally on the Red, which explains the differences in look that you mention. Been waiting for ages for these, in the UK they've only released the DVDs so far. I can only recommend the books, by the way, they are amazing and I don't think the films will do them justice."


Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974:








Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980:







Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1983:







Audio :

Nothing is offered in HD but there are 2 track choices - a Dolby 2.0 channel stereo and a 5.1 surround option. Those more familiar with the deft separations of lossless won't notice much going on here but dialogue is clear and consistent - although the volume level needed cranking quite high - otherwise effect noise are fairly unremarkable. There is some nice background music - I recall some guitar riffs - but, generally the audio does not stand-out especially. The exception to this is Johnny Mathis' 'A Certain Smile' blaring with deep resonance in the first part. I tested some scenes with both the stereo and surround and I did note a slight difference in the range - but it wasn't dramatic - or perhaps my ears are spoiled by DTS-HD. English and Spanish, bright yellow, smallish font, subtitles are offered and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.



Extras :

The supplements are all on a single-layered DVD and divided into four sections and look as if they have been on previous DVD editions. They include TV Spots and deleted scenes for each and I enjoyed the Julian Jarrold (director of 1974) interview. The, almost 20-minute, Making of... for the 1980 segment seemed a bit more in-depth and revealing.



I watched this over 2 nights and enjoyed it thoroughly - certainly it seems worthy of its theatrical release. Intentional or not - the three segments flow together extremely well with purposeful pacing despite each having a different director... with different styles. There are shades of many intriguing serial killer films including Fincher's Zodiac with inclusion of an intrepid rookie journalist moving through police politics + inefficiency and a string of unsolved murders, in this case children, that lasts almost 15 years. There is a curious appeal here and my Blu-ray supported the presentation intent well. I can see revisiting The Red Riding Trilogy again - I think being more prepared for it would improve my appreciation which is already quite substantial. I liked the investigations but found the police corruption angle an unwelcome distraction. You do have to pay attention to Red Riding. Despite the digital limitations- we still endorse. 

Gary Tooze

August 19th, 2010




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 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 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 HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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