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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Quest For Fire aka La guerre du feu [Blu-ray]

 

(Jean-Jacques Annaud, 1981)

 

Second Sight are releasing the film on Blu-ray in August, 2013

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: International Cinema Corporation (ICC)

Video: Concorde Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:40:39.491

Disc Size: 20,642,708,812 bytes

Feature Size: 17,160,880,128 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.96 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Book style Blu-ray case

Release date: November 10th, 2011

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio French 2009 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2009 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary: DTS Audio French 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

German (on commentary), none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Jean-Jacques Annaud in French with optional German subtitles

• Making of... (25:45 in 576i) - French with German subtitles

• Interview with Jean-Jacques Annaud (35:16 - 576i) - French with German subtitles

• Trailer (2:20 in 576i)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: A colossal adventure odyssey that turns back the hands of time to the very beginning of man's existence. 80,000 years ago, when man roamed the earth, he was exposed to the many harsh elements of nature. Against the perilous atmosphere of rugged terrain, rival tribes and savage beasts, Quest for Fire examines a peaceful tribe's search for that all important element fire, and the knowledge to create it. Focusing on human dream as well as realistic insights into pre-historic man, the constant struggle for survival is vividly recreated in this sensational production.

 

 

The Film:

Quest for Fire cheerfully acknowledges that, and indeed some of its best scenes involve man's discovery of laughter. When one of the primitive tribesmen is hit on the head by a small falling stone, the woman from the other tribe laughs and laughs. Our heroes are puzzled: They haven't heard such a noise before. But it strikes some sort of deep chord, I guess, because later, one of the tribesmen deliberately drops a small stone on his friend's head, and then everybody laughs: The three men together with the woman who taught them laughter. That's human. The guy who got hit on the head is, of course, a little slow to join in the laughter, but finally he goes along with the joke. That's civilization.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

Not many movies demand the suspension of disbelief that Jean-Jacques Annaud's ''Quest for Fire'' insists upon, and earns. The audience is asked to imagine that it is seeing what a movie camera would have seen, had the movie camera been invented 80,000 years ago. Some skepticism is in order, but it vanishes fast. ''Quest for Fire'' is more than just a hugely enterprising science les son, although it certainly is that. It's also a touching, funny and suspenseful drama about prehumans.

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.

Quest For Fire comes out of Germany on Blu-ray from Concorde Entertainment and while not the most dynamic transfer technically - gives a decent presentation. Noise still exists but it wasn't overly imposing.  The image has some bright colors and impressive sharpness although the camera is quite kinetic and there aren't many 'relaxed' cinematographic moments.  This is only single-layered with a modest bitrate. Colors seem brighter and truer than SD could relate and there is a smattering of grain inside the 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio frame. Thickness varies from the natural lighting (a few portions shot at dusk) but contrast seems acceptable and detail strong enough to get a passing grade. The image is very clean with no marks or damage. There is minor depth but this is not a key attribute. This Blu-ray probably looks like the film Quest For Fire and it advances beyond the last DVD editions in several key areas - notably detail and colors.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

As many are aware - there is no dialogue in Quest for Fire - well none that is specific to a language we might be able to translate. Communication exists with grunts, groans and laughter. But the DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 2009 kbps does export some effects and the atmospheric, and often intense, original score by Philippe Sarde. I noted some surround separation but it was not overwhelming however the sparingly utilized music track came through pretty crisp with some depth. So there are no requirements for subtitles (excepting on the extras) and my Oppo player has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

NOTE: the only significance to a 'language' for the film is some opening remarks about the timeframe etc. These happen to be in German - as is the title (altered from original French). Ex. "It is set in Paleolithic Europe, 80,000 years ago, its plot surrounding the struggle for control of fire by early humans."

 

Extras :

Nothing English-friendly. We do get a commentary by Jean-Jacques Annaud in French with optional German subtitles and the same set-up for the two video pieces - totaling an hour (both in PAL). There is also a PAL trailer.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I'm a huge fan of this film. It is certainly one of the most creative and ambitious works of the entire 80's. You'll find some cynical reviews out there but my advice would be to simply watch and it and let the illusion envelope you. The Blu-ray is an imperfect transfer but a darn sight better than SD. I thoroughly enjoyed my viewing and actually a couple of years back actually wore out my old DVD - so I can certainly recommend the film experience. I absolutely LOVE Quest for Fire

Gary Tooze

November 10th, 2011

 

Second Sight are releasing the film on Blu-ray in August, 2013


 

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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