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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Mysteries of Lisbon [Blu-ray]


(Raoul Ruiz, 2010)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Clap Filmes

Video: Music Box Films



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

Runtime: 1:58:31.062 (Part 1) + 2:28:00.955 (Part 2)

Disc One Size: 27,581,143,170 bytes

Disc Two Size: 34,287,771,449 bytes

Feature Sizes: 27,279,200,256 bytes / 34,007,390,208 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.41 Mbps

Chapters: 12 + 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 17th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 1.95:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Portuguese 1790 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1790 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Portuguese 1653 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1653 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English (SDH), none


Extras: (Blu-ray disc 3)

• Interview with Director Raśl Ruiz (37:24)

Interview with Screenwriter Carlos Saboga (5:05)

Radio Interview with Director Raśl Ruiz by Michel Ciment (28:29 in French with English subtitles over a picture)

• Critics Roundtable Discussion (13:21)

• Novelist Camilo Castelo Branco (14:38)

• Original Theatrical Trailer (1:52)

12-page liner notes booklet


Bitrate: (discs 1 + 2)



Description: Raul Ruiz’s masterful adaptation of the eponymous nineteenth-century Portuguese novel (by Camilo Castelo Branco) evokes the complex intertwined narratives of Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens. The core story centers on Joao, the bastard child of an ill-fated romance between two members of the aristocracy who are forbidden to marry, and his quest to discover the truth of his parentage. But this is just the start of an engrossing tale that follows a multitude of characters whose fates conjoin, separate and then rejoin again over three decades in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy.


The most glorious achievement of Raśl Ruiz’s prodigious career and one of the first cinematic masterpieces of this century.” – Film Comment


A veritable whirlwind of adventures and escapades, coincidences and revelations, sentiments and violent passions, vengeance,... love affairs, all wrapped in a rhapsodic voyage that takes us from Portugal to France, Italy, and as far as Brazil. In this Lisbon of intrigue and hidden identities, we encounter a series of characters all somewhat linked to the destiny of Pedro da Silva, an orphan in a boarding school, in a story set in the 19th century, and all searching for the true identity of our main character.



The Film:

Mysteries of Lisbon is Chilean director Raoul Ruiz’s mellifluous, flashback-driven melodrama in two parts which was his penultimate completed film before he died at the age of 70 in August 2011. This magnificent work clocks in at four hours and 16 minutes, and one reason to try and shoehorn it into your schedule is that it’s being heralded as the summation of Ruiz’s gigantic career, during which he put his name to more than 100 features, shorts and TV series. It deserves to be mentioned alongside such opulent costume epics as Kubrick’s ‘Barry Lyndon’, Visconti’s ‘The Leopard’ or Ruiz’s own ‘Time Regained’, though it’s also a must for fans of the slow-burning, dialogue-driven TV series the BBC made in the 1970s and ’80s, such as ‘Edge of Darkness’ or ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

A masterly tale about lives and stories and the art of their telling, “Mysteries of Lisbon” is also an elegiac meditation on love lost and rediscovered through misted memory. Directed by the Chilean filmmaker Raśl Ruiz and set mainly in Portugal, with detours to other European corners, it is a period picture based on a work by the prolific Camilo Castelo Branco (1825-90), who was born in Lisbon, illegitimate and orphaned, and flirted with the priesthood before finding his calling in writing, running off with a married woman, landing in prison and finally committing suicide. Mr. Ruiz’s “Mysteries” are just as outlandish, gloriously so.

Excerpt from Manohla Dargis at the NY Times located HERE

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

Firstly this is the theatrical version as shown at the Toronto International Film Festival - NOT the longer TV version (6 X 60-minte episodes). That is not included here - as it is via the European DVD package. Music Box Films offer this as a 3-disc Blu-ray with Part 1 of the feature on disc 1, Part 2 on disc 2 and the supplements on third Blu-ray disc. Image quality is consistent between the two feature discs with an almost duplicate transfer bitrate. There is a smooth texture and I measure aspect ratio at an odd 1.95:1.  Detail is strong and contrast at the higher levels of the format. Colors are passive and un-manipulated. There is some depth and the 1080P supported the impressive Art direction and cinematography of the film.  This Blu-ray has a even video quality and I can see no discernable flaws. These two Blu-rays provide an excellent Home Theater presentation - one we can whole-heartedly endorse.












Part 2 (2nd Blu-ray)







Audio :

Audio gives the option of two similarly robust DTS-HD Master tracks in original Portuguese - both around 1700 kbps. One is a standard 2.0 channel stereo and the other a 5.1 Surround that I only noticed separation in a couple of times throughout the film. Both export some depth with clear dialogue. There is little in the way of aggression in the track. The wonderful original music is by Jorge Arriagada, a Chilean composer who, I think, has done all of Raśl Ruiz’ film scores. I found it an important part of the presentation sounding beautiful and tight. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

A commentary for the 4.5 hour film would seem an overly ambitious task - and none is provided but we do get a third Blu-ray disc of extras. It starts with a 37-minute interview director Raśl Ruiz where he is asked some long-winded questions giving informative responses - it is in Spanish with optional English subtitles - as are all the supplements. There is also a short, 5-minute, interview with screenwriter Carlos Saboga and a 1/2 hour radio Interview with Director Raśl Ruiz by Michel Ciment with English subtitles over a static image. Sitting around a casino table we get a Critics Roundtable Discussion short of 15-minutes and a nice piece on novelist Camilo Castelo Branco for a shade longer. Lastly on the digital front - there is an original theatrical trailer. There is also a 12-page liner notes booklet with pictures and text.


Menus (disc 1 + 2)



Blu-ray 3 (Extras)




Raśl Ruiz’ film is sublime. The relaxing viewing experience doesn't, at all, reflect the 4.5 hour time. It seems much shorter and one you wish would extend longer. I will admit that I was having a bit of trouble with the many characters and names but I look forward to a second viewing to overcome that. I didn't find this complexity distracting from the pleasure of the presentation. This was pure cinema at a level we see so rarely.  Music Box have done themselves proud with a sterling package on Blu-ray. It might have been more convenient to author it more pragmatically - but at the cost of the a/v. I'm glad they resisted. The attention to important details is paramount to the overall engrossing experience. We've just finished the Poll for Blu-ray and DVD of the Year 2011 - but I suspect that this rich work will be prominent in our 2012 voting! VERY strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

January 7th, 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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