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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

Topsy-Turvy [Blu-ray]


(Mike Leigh, 1999)


Coming to the UK by Criterion on Blu-ray in October 2020:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Goldwyn Films

Video: Criterion Collection - Spine # 558



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

Runtime: 2:40:57.898

Disc Size: 47,317,188,758 bytes

Feature Size: 35,010,650,112 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.85 Mbps

Chapters: 21

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 29th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3341 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3341 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), none



• Audio commentary featuring director Mike Leigh
New video conversation between Leigh and musical director, Gary Yershon (37:22)
Leigh’s 1992 short film A Sense of History, written by and starring actor Jim Broadbent (26:16)
• 4 Deleted scenes
Featurette from 1999 including interviews with Leigh and cast members (9:49)
Theatrical trailer and TV spots
16-page liner notes booklet featuring an essay by film critic Amy Taubin





Description: The world of Gilbert and Sullivan comes to vivid life in director Mike Leigh’s extraordinary dramatization of the staging of the duo’s legendary 1885 comic opera The Mikado. Jim Broadbent and Allan Corduner brilliantly inhabit the roles of the world-famous Victorian librettist and composer, who, along with their troupe of temperamental actors, must battle personal and professional demons while mounting this major production. A lushly produced epic about the harsh realities of creative expression, featuring bravura performances and Oscar-winning costume design and makeup, Topsy-Turvy is an unexpected period delight from one of contemporary cinema’s great artists.



The Film:

William Schwenck Gilbert is the librettist, writing the words. Arthur Sullivan is the composer, writing the music. Gilbert... is the very model of a 19th-century British gentleman, an overly proper married man certain that he knows best. For nearly a decade, Gilbert and Sullivan's collaborations have delighted the English people. Their popular comic operas have recouped handsomely for the successful Savoy Theatre... But, in 1884, as a London heat wave cuts into the theater trade, their latest work, "Princess Ida," receives lukewarm press. Sullivan rejects Gilbert's next idea as "topsy-turvy" and unbelievable, and although Gilbert tries to accommodate him, they cannot agree. Mired at a creative impasse, Gilbert and Sullivan can barely converse. Then, Gilbert's wife, Lucy "Kitty" Gilbert, drags him along to a Japanese exhibition--exposure to the very different culture begins inspiration to embark on the production of "The Mikado."


Mike Leigh's grandly entertaining ''Topsy-Turvy'' is one of those films that create a mix of erudition, pageantry and delectable acting opportunities, much as ''Shakespeare in Love'' did last year. Instead of a lovestruck young playwright, it presents the curiously matched personalities of the librettist William Schwenk Gilbert and the composer Arthur Sullivan in the midst of a robust, knowing, frequently hilarious look at the musical theater over which they held sway.

Mr. Leigh orchestrates this delightful film so well that he fittingly presents his own directorial credit just as Sullivan, preparing to conduct the new operetta ''Princess Ida'' in 1884, takes an introductory bow.

Excerpt from Janet Maslin at the NY Times located HERE

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

Topsy-Turvy looks fabulous on Blu-ray from Criterion. Colors are bright and true, contrast and black levels are exemplary and there is plenty of depth. Although I don't own the 2000 DVD - this must surely be a huge improvement. There is a smattering of grain and the resulting image quality is extremely pleasing.  The disc is dual-layered for the 2 3/4 hour film. Detail is strong and visually there isn't a flaw without even one noted instance of noise. This Blu-ray supports the beautiful film so well - it is quite a home theater presentation on the video front.
















Audio :

Criterion rarely expose films that produce a dynamic home-theater score - Topsy-Turvy is one of the aberrations with a resounding DTS-HD 5.1 at a robust 3341 kbps. There are plenty of Gilbert and (mostly) Sullivan numbers from such works as "Princess Ida", "The Sorcerer" and most from "The Mikado". These are great arrangements and sound quite clean and tight in lossless. Range is not abundant but there is a definite seething depth potential to the aural presentation. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Extras are stacked with an audio commentary featuring the always intelligent and provocative Mike Leigh. It was recorded for the original 2000 Polygram DVD. There is a 1/2 hour conversation between Leigh and musical director, Gary Yershon where they discuss the work of Gilbert and Sullivan and adapting it to the screen. Leigh’s 1992 26-minute short film A Sense of History, written by and starring actor Jim Broadbent is included. Broadbent plays the twenty-third earl of Leete, who takes a film crew on a tour of his estate. As he relates the family history, the crew begins to realize that all is not as it seems. It was during this production that Leigh and Broadbent discussed the idea of a film on Gilbert and Sullivan. There are 4 deleted scenes cut by Leigh (including one song and the full version of the Brothel sequences) from the final release of Topsy-Turvy. Although pleased with the scenes, he was under pressure to reduce the length of the film. The scenes are presented from a work copy of the film, with the surrounding footage included for context. The 10-minute 199 featurette is included with interviews involving Leigh and cast members. There is a theatrical trailer and3 TV spots (one of which is for the soundtrack). lastly we get a 16-page liner notes booklet featuring photos and an essay by film critic Amy Taubin.



Perhaps the most perfect choice as a companion release with The Mikado - Topsy-Turvy is a delightful and brilliant film. I appreciated the education on a topic I knew little-to-nothing about and once in the mood the film experience is a unique an immensely entertaining one. The Blu-ray is as perfect as anyone could have hoped - the highest level of quality for the a/v transfer and some viable and worthy supplements. STRONGLY recommended!  

Gary Tooze

March 29th, 2011

Coming to the UK by Criterion on Blu-ray in October 2020:


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.

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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