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The Army of Crime aka L'armée du crime [Blu-ray]
(Robert Guédiguian, 2009)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Studio Canal
Video: Kino / Lorber
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 43,160,840,866 bytes
Feature Size: 34,803,388,416 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.96 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside a cardboard box
Release date: January 18th, 2011
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio French 1671 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1671 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• Interview with Robert Guédiguian (14:59 - 1080i)
• Trailers in HD for Army of Crime and Mademoiselle Chambon
• 18 Stills
Description: In Paris, 1941, Armenian poet Missak Manouchian leads a motley crew of foreign-born resistance fighters in clandestine battle against the Nazi occupation. An initially reluctant Manouchian and his team must resort to guerilla tactics and radical measures in the name of liberty. News of their daring attacks, including the assassination of an SS general, eventually reaches Berlin, and the Manouchian group ultimately have to answer for their brutal role in defending France as the cradle of freedom.
Retraces the epic story of the Parisian Resistance fighters of the FTP-MOI (Francs-tireurs and Partisans - Immigrant... Workers). Led by Missak Manouchian, a worker and poet of Armenian origin, the group carried out around 30 operations against the Nazis between August and November 1943. Handed over to the Germans by the French police, 23 members of the Manouchian group were executed, and the Nazis tried to use their foreign roots in a propaganda campaign against immigrants in Paris in Spring 1944. But the propaganda had the opposite effect and the members of the network became martyrs of the Resistance movement.
The title is a double nod – firstly, to the nickname given to Manouchian
and his colleagues after they were executed in 1944 and, secondly, to
Jean-Pierre Melville’s 1969 masterpiece ‘Army
of Shadows’, a film which dramatised with cold brilliance the
rituals of the French resistance. But while Melville suggested that all
of France was resisting or supportive of the resistance, Guédiguian
adopts a more nuanced stance. By dramatising the efforts of the Francs-Tireurs,
the leftist resistance, he dispels the myth of a unified, Gaullist
resistance – an assumption that was first and most powerfully exploded
in cinema by Marcel Ophüls in his 1969 doc ‘The Sorrow and the Pity’.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
I wouldn't say that Army of Crime exports a strongly dynamic video image on Blu-ray - however, the hi-def, 1080P, visuals are easily evident and produce some subtlety exposed detail and depth. My impressions are that this is a reasonably thick film-like presentation and I believe some care was made in the production to establish this appearance - helping characterize the time-frame (by the way, the art direction is excellent). Army of Crime has already been released on Blu-ray in both France and the UK and I suspect that this is the same dual-layered transfer. The film has some dark moments and many shot in natural light. Contrast levels are very strong and there doesn't appears to be any digital manipulation. Noise is minimal, but the image isn't especially crisp - most probably dependant on the stylistic approach to the film's appearance. The disc has a strong bitrate for the feature and I can only presume an accurate reflection of the theatrical look. I am impressed with the hi-def image and most should be pleased as it allows the viewer to sink more readily into Army of Crime's intended historically-related expression.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is not particularly demonstrative with a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1671 kbps. The film is reasonably passive with some selected aggression (explosion, guns etc.) which the track handles acceptably. There is both depth and some separation but neither would be considered overly notable or a large part of the viewer's recollection. Alexandre Desplat's score includes poetic Bach and Mozart and sounds impressively crisp. The lossless French dialogue track is without dominant flaws and there are optional English subtitles.My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Supplements include an interview with director Robert Guédiguian for about 15-minutes in 1080i and another, at a nice setting, with the pairing of Virginie Ledoyen & Simon Abkarian at the Cannes Premiere for just over 20-minutes. There is some viable information here but it is not in abundance. There are HD trailers for Army of Crime and Mademoiselle Chambon and a stills section with access to 18 photos relating to the film. I believe the European Blu-ray release has a bit more to offer with supplements but it doesn't appear to be anything remarkable.
January 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 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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