Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

World on a Wire aka Welt Am Draht or Le Monde sur le Fil [Blu-ray]

 

(Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1973)

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Television: Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)

Video: Carlotta Film / Criterion Collection - Spine #598

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:42:56.840 + 1:41:04.040 / 1:45:46.381 + 1:47:39.494

Disc Size: 45,740,757,468 bytes / 48,291,640,218 bytes

Feature Size: 21,638,995,968 bytes + 21,247,997,952 bytes /  41,676,011,520 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps / 22.49 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 30

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: October 6th, 2010 / February 21st, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 matted to 1.78

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio German 768 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit

LPCM Audio German 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

French, none

English, none

 

Extras:

• Featurette: Un Regard D'Avance Sur le Present aka Fassbinder Welt am Draht: Blick voraus in Heute (48:32 in SD PAL) - German with French subtitles

• Stills Gallery

• Credits

36-page liner notes booklet with photos and essays in French

 

• Fassbinder’s “World on a Wire”: Looking Ahead to Today, a fifty-minute documentary about the making of the film by Juliane Lorenz (50:08)
• New interview with German-film scholar Gerd Gemünden (34:14)
• Trailer for the 2010 theatrical release (1:35)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Ed Halter

 

Bitrate:

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Description: World on a Wire is a gloriously paranoid, boundlessly inventive take on the future from German wunderkind Rainer Werner Fassbinder. With dashes of Stanley Kubrick, Kurt Vonnegut, and Philip K. Dick, Fassbinder tells the noir-spiked tale of reluctant hero Fred Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch), a cybernetics engineer who uncovers a massive corporate conspiracy. At risk? (Virtual) reality as we know it. Originally made for German television, this recently rediscovered, three-and-a-half-hour labyrinth is a satiric and surreal look at the world of tomorrow from one of cinema’s kinkiest geniuses.

 

 

The Film:

Even though (or perhaps because) some of its 205 minutes seem repetitive or predictable, this 1973 exploitation of SF and hard-boiled-detective clichés is so deeply affecting it could induce an existential crisis in the viewer. Written by Fritz Muller-Scherz and director Rainer Werner Fassbinder and based on a novel by Daniel Galouye, this tale of an artificial-intelligence expert investigating the death of a colleague with whom he developed some cutting-edge technology makes Blade Runner seem redundant. The cinematography by Michael Ballhaus (The Age of Innocence), production design, use of sound effects, and music are eerie and convincing yet camp; their combination demonstrates a control of tone that's nothing short of miraculous. Numerous minor characters? perspectives swirl in and out of a consciousness attributed almost by default to the main character, Fred Stiller (Klaus Lowitsch), who must deal with the deepest, darkest questions about the nature of identity and existence. It's astonishing that such painfully obvious themes can also be so painfully provocative.

Excerpt from Lisa Alspector at The Chicago Reader located HERE

 


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

Firstly - we should state from the outset that this is not an English-friendly Blu-ray. It has mostly German dialogue and only French subtitles. I speak some German and a little more French - so I got by but I only suggest this edition to those conversant in either language. Hopefully an English-friendly edition will surface soon.

 

World on a Wire was a two-part broadcast shown on German television in 1973. This has undergone restoration courtesy of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation. This French Blu-ray probably looks about as good as one could have hoped. Impressive cinematography was by Michael Ballhaus (Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula and Scorsese's The Departed) and Ulrich Prinz. This was shot in 16mm but I have no idea what state this was in (or other factors like what type of lens was used etc.) - but, by modern standards was limited. The resulting visuals are thick but clean - not dynamically crisp but consistent and very grainy. In the second part I noticed some banding but it seemed to occur at scenes shifts like a 'combing' phenomenon - so I am unsure whether it was caused by the transfer or the digital restoration. There are some weaker moments with frame specific damage (see last capture sample) or noise in the darker parts of World on a Wire. Considering being 16mm sources though, with the softness inherent, it looks amazing - much better than most could have anticipated.

 

The image quality is very close between the two Blu-ray releases. The Criterion, also presented in two parts, exhibits a shade more texture where the Carlotta is smoother. The Criterion may be minutely brighter.  Colors support each other and appear to both come from the same restoration. The times indicate that the Carlotta may be from a PAL sped-up source. I'll look into that - but the important issue for most will be the English subtitles available on the Criterion. 

 

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

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

Audio :

Faithful to source we have a linear PCM mono track at 768 kbps. It remains predictably flat but clear with some crispness in dialogue. I didn't note significant flaws although it may have been slightly out-of-sync at times. There are French subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked Blu-ray.

Criterion's audio transfer is also very similar to Carlotta's with a linear PCM mono track. It was flat but clear and there are optional English subtitles.

 

Extras :

In the 50-minutes featurette (also found in the DVD package) entitled Un Regard D'Avance Sur le Present (originally Fassbinder Welt am Draht: Blick voraus in Heute) we get people like Karl Heinz Vosgerau discussing Fassbinder - how difficult he was to work with etc., plus Juliane Lorenz (head of the Fassbinder Foundation) and DoP Michael Ballhaus talking about the restoration. It is in SD - completely in German with French subtitles. There is a stills gallery with 25 images and some disc production credits. There is also a 36-page liner notes booklet with photos and essays in French.

Criterion include the same Fassbinder’s “World on a Wire”: Looking Ahead to Today fifty-minute documentary about the making of the film by Juliane Loren etc. but the Criterion have it in HD. They also offer a new 1/2 hour interview with German-film scholar Gerd Gemünden recorded by Criterion in 2011. There is an HD Trailer for the 2010 theatrical release plus the liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Ed Halter.

 

Carlotta - Region 'B' - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Fassbinder creates the most amazing sci-fi atmosphere in World on a Wire. It is evocative of a theatrical representation - also not unlike to other films of the genre like Alphaville and even The Matrix (sans CGI). It exports a strong metaphysical leaning. I watched over two nights but it doesn't feel anywhere near it's, over, 3-hour length. The 70's style (fashion, furniture, sideburns...) is appropriate - looking suitably cool and weirdly modern. The Blu-ray may not represent a pristine image but it is the best we are ever likely to EVER get. I recommend for those capable of understanding German or French. This is a REAL treat for Fassbinder fans.

 

Criterion should really be commended for bringing this to English-friendly audiences. All the accolades still hold true but now Region 'A' (and Region FREE, English) Fassbinder fans can indulge. I can see this being extensively represented at our year-end poll. What a great package. Strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

September 23rd, 2010

February 7th, 2012

 

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

 

HD-DVD STORE         HIGH DEFINITION DVD STORE

 

ALL OUR NEW FORMAT DVD REVIEWS

 

 




 

Hit Counter

 

DONATIONS Keep DVDBeaver alive:

CLICK PayPal logo to donate!

Gary Tooze

Thank You!