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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Kundun [Blu-ray]


(Martin Scorsese, 1997)


Also available via third party sellers in the US:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Touchstone Pictures

Video: Studio Canal



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

Runtime: :14:24.514

Disc Size: 43,304,239,998 bytes

Feature Size: 37,489,195,008 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.69 Mbps

Chapters: 33

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 10th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1783 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1783 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 2120 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2120 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 1001 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1001 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 888 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 888 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 1120 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1120 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)



French, German, Spanish, none



• Searching For Kundun (1:27:26 in 576i)

• Trailer (2:26 in 576i)

Video and Audio configuration tests





Description: Martin Scorsese's magical mystery mandala on the life of the Dalai Lama is a visually exhilarating, spiritually ambitious... film that goes where Scorsese has never gone before.


Praised as one of the best films of the year, KUNDUN is a motion picture masterpiece directed by five-time Academy Award(R)-nominated director Martin Scorsese. It's the incredible true story of one of the world's most fascinating leaders -- Tibet's Dali Lama and his daring struggle to rule a nation at one of the most challenging times in its history. Powerfully told and set against a backdrop of world politics -- the film's release created an international uproar! Featuring a striking Oscar(R)-nominated score by renowned composer Philip Glass, this extraordinary motion picture has been greeted with both controversy and worldwide acclaim -- experience it for yourself!



The Film:

The thirteenth Dalai Lama passed away in 1933. In 1935, the Regent of Tibet had a vision to guide the search for the next incarnation of the spiritual leader of Tibet. In 1937, that incarnation was found in the person of a two-year-old child, Tenzin Gyatso.

Kundun (1997) is a portrait of the early life of the boy recognized as the fourteenth reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, from his discovery at the age of two by a Lama in the guise of a servant, through the invasion of Tibet by Communist China in 1950, to his flight to India and exile from his homeland in 1959 at the age of 24. The title of the film, which comes from the honorific title of the Dalai Lama, means The Presence, as in the presence of the Buddha.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

With this film, composed of dazzling, beautifully framed imagery, billowing waves of music and few words, Martin Scorsese has come the closest he ever has to making a work of pure cinema. The movie is a triumph for the cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has given it the look of an illuminated manuscript. As its imagery becomes more surreal and mystically abstract, Mr. Glass's ethereal electronic score, which suggests a Himalyan music of the spheres, gathers force and energy and the music and pictures achieve a sublime synergy.

Excerpt from Stephen Holden at the NY Times located HERE


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

Kundun has a strong negative issue on Blu-ray out of Germany. It's quite odd. The frequency of edge-enhancement and DNR seem to have been applied with an extremely wide swath - unevenly throughout the film. These are represented by black-lined halos. Even looking at the below screen captures - characters can appear like, waxy, flat, cardboard cutouts. Aside from that - it looks quite impressive. The colors are rich and lustrous. Detail in close-ups is strong. In fact, if you can bypass the varying degrees to EE / DNR - you may be able to settle in for a rewarding viewing presentation. There is even a bit of grain and texture. This Blu-ray is notably imperfect and I'd love to see it without the digital manipulation. It's a shame to be distracted when you are watching such an interesting film.


















Audio :

When putting the disc in - you get to select a country and the English (choose 'Australia' as opposed to Germany, Spain or France) has a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1783 kbps in the English language. There are also foreign language DUBs in HD and subtitle options. The Philip Glass score sounds pretty good but I felt it could have exported a more robust depth at times. It slightly under achieved. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

The 1.5 hour 'making of' documentary 'Searching For Kundun' is part of the disc supplements - presented in SD PAL. It is described as "The making of Martin Scorseses Oscar-nominated film Kundun was an historic event, the first feature film treatment of the life of the 14th Dalai Lama. Michael H. Wilson documented this emotion-filled encounter of Scorsese and his Italian and American team with the Tibetans who portrayed the key figures in the tumultuous recent history of Tibet. Featuring compelling interviews with Scorsese, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, and production designer Dante Ferreti." Aside from that is a trailer and some audio and video configuration tests.



If you are not sensitive to the edge-enhancements - then this release of Kundun offers the film in a compelling package. The less-particular will find this Blu-ray a substantial leap beyond SD. My hope is to compare this to a region 'A' 1080P version one day soon. 

Gary Tooze

November 30th, 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.

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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