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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Baarža [Blu-ray]


(Giuseppe Tornatore, 2009)


There is a German Blu-ray edition, reportedly with only German subtitles:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Medusa Film

Video: Image Entertainment



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

Runtime: 2:30:52.418

Disc Size: 23,951,532,780 bytes

Feature Size: 19,154,472,960 bytes

Video Bitrate: 12.00 Mbps

Chapters: 14

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 18th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 2083 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2083 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit / DN -4dB)
Commentary: LPCM Audio Italian 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English for the Feature (non-removable) - English commentary subtitles are optional



• Commentary with Giuseppe Tornatore (In Italian with optional top-frame Eng. subtitles)
Backstage (29:34 in 480i)
Special Event (14:17 in 480i)
A Conversation with Giuseppe Tornatore by Mario Sesti (25:51 in 480i)
Deleted Scenes (1:48 in 480i)
Photo Gallery (3:22 in 480i)
Poster Gallery (:50 in 480i)

• Trailer (2:00 in 480i)





Description: From the director of Cinema Paradiso comes a stirring, unforgettable new epic of Italian life as you’ve never seen it before. The course of a lifetime reflects the evolution of a country as young Peppino takes work as a shepherd to support his family in the Sicilian town of Bagheria, nicknamed “Baarža” by its residents. During the next five decades he experiences the passionate love of his life, undergoes a powerful political awakening, and discovers a destiny he could have never imagined. A visual feast featuring a powerful score by legendary Academy Award - winning composer Ennio Morricone, Baarža captures the past century with a mesmerizing beauty and rare cinematic power.



The Film:

The framework for its telling is theoretically three generations of one family. Cicco the grandfather (Gaetano Aronica) is a shepherd at the time of the rise of fascism. The story though concentrates far more on his son Peppino (Scianna), who as a boy experiences the hardships of World War II and as a young man becomes a fervent communist. This creates difficulties when he falls in love with the beautiful Mannina (MadŤ), as her parents object to his politics but eventually he wins her hand, they marry, have children and he climbs slowly but surely up the ladder of the local Communist party structure, finally being elected a town councillor.

Excerpt from Carol Allen Close-Up Film located HERE

Written and directed by Giuseppe Tornatore (Cinema Paradiso), Baarža is set in the director's Sicilian hometown of Bagheria ("Baarža" in the local dialect) and spans several decades. The film opens with a delightful sequence in which young Pietro Torrenuova (Giuseppe Garufi) runs through the streets and then takes flight, laughing and grinning as the music soars and he swoops over the town below. However, the film then focuses on an entirely different child, Peppino Torrenuova (Giovanni Gambino, then Davide Viviani, then finally Francesco Scianna), who eventually turns out to be Pietro's father. The film follows Peppino through his troublemaking childhood, his rebellious adolescence, marriage to the beautiful Mannina (model-turned-actress Margareth Made), his fights for workers' rights as a member of the Communist Party, the growth of his family and his eventual career as a politician.

Excerpt from ViewLondon located HERE

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

Baarža is a beautiful film that often overcomes the modest Blu-ray transfer from Image Entertainment. It's not so much that the single-layered approach to the 2.5 hour film is fatally ineffectual to the image quality BUT it could have improved demonstratively with dual-layering, and hence a significantly higher bitrate. So while there isn't as much subtle crispness - it still looks reasonably sharp and has some depth. More's the pity as some of the Palermo, Sicily, and Tunisian landscapes are breathtaking. Colors appear saturated at times but less tight than could have been obtained - and I question the general golden/yellow hue. Overall only minutely above an SD rendering of a much shorter film. This HD treatment does appear consistent but IMDb lists it as 2.35:1 theatrically and this, as you can see - is 1.78. If this is the case - this amounts to an unforgivable black-mark. NOTE The Dutch DVD is 2.35:1.





Director Commentary subtitle sample:
















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2083 kbps sounds quite good with Ennio Morricone's score highly reminiscent of Cinema Paradiso. The track has some positives without any one area standing out. There are some separations and depth - the higher end is nicely rendered. The English subtitles are non-removable and top-frame ones relating to the the Italian language Tornatore commentary are optional. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

More irregularities to contend with - the Italian language commentary by director/writer Giuseppe Tornatore is quite good but listening to it virtually removes the audio of the feature film for long section even if he is not speaking as if the commentary was improperly mixed and, as Tornatore does speak with some passion, it should be heard - as well as read via the subtitles for those who do not understand Italian. There are also just shy of 1.5 hour's worth of other supplements - all in Italian with English subtitles and all 480i resolution. These include the well-done 'Backstage' featurette imitating a time period piece and a 25-minute conversation with Giuseppe Tornatore by Mario Sesti. There are also very short deleted scenes, a photo + poster gallery and a theatrical trailer.



What I suspect here is that Image Entertainment received this D1 in the wrong AR and with the burned-in subs. So there is little they could do - except, of course, not release it. But this Blu-ray with incorrect aspect ratio and puny video bitrate doesn't do the film justice. I actually enjoyed Baarža although it tries to cover too much drama/humor ground for one film but we can only hope someone else releases it (I'd love to re-watch it - but in 2.35:1) - as this Image Entertainment package gets a thumbs down. 

Gary Tooze

October 13th, 2011


There is a German Blu-ray edition, reportedly with only German subtitles:


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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