S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
(Robert M. Young, 1977)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video: Criterion Collection Spine # 609
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 42,306,901,129 bytes
Feature Size: 28,504,584,192 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: April 17th, 2012
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio Spanish 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), none
• New audio commentary featuring director Robert M. Young and
coproducer Michael Hausman
Description: In Alambrista!, a Mexican farmworker sneaks across the border to California to make money to send to his family back home. It is a story that happens every day, told here in an uncompromising, groundbreaking work of realism from American independent filmmaker Robert M. Young. Vivid and spare where other films about illegal immigration might sentimentalize, Young’s take is equal parts intimate character study and gripping road movie, a political work that never loses sight of the complex man at its center. Alambrista!, winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s inaugural Caméra d’Or in 1978, remains one of the best films ever made on this perennially relevant topic.
Young's first feature. Functioning here as writer, director and cameraman, he spent over a year living among Mexican wet-backs in the US Southwest to discover what it actually feels like working illegally, and in voluntary exile, for a society barely conscious of your existence, far less your rights. His discoveries, though nothing new, remain disturbing: workers housed and transported in sub-animal conditions, slowly bled of their dignity and culture.Excerpt from Timeout Film Guide located HERE
Robert M. Young's "Alambrista!" ("The Illegal") is a small, gentle, beautifully made film about a subject that might, in more conventional hands, have received either harsher or more histrionic treatment. Without sentimentality or rhetoric, it follows a Mexican farmworker on his illegal journey into California, which he soon discovers is hardly the land of opportunity. Roberto (Domingo Ambriz) will inevitably return to Mexico — that much is certain from the film's opening sequence, which shows him in circumstances far more peaceful and accommodating than anything he will find north of the border. Mr. Young accepts at the outset that Roberto's pilgrimage is futile and unavoidable, and then goes quietly about the business of detailing the trip.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.
The image quality of Criterion's Blu-ray of Robert M/. Young's Alambrista! (The Illegal) belies the original production roots. Visually this is extremely grainy and thickly textured. I think this dual-layered transfer with soaring bitrate is a magnificent representation of the original film. Colors seem brighter and truer than SD could relate and contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. There is no noise in the night sequences. This Blu-ray has a consistent realistic feel with zero damage. By modern standards this is fairly tame visually but as a representation of the original - I doubt it could ever look better. It was quite a joy to see the 1.66:1 1080P transfer supporting the film without glossy or smearing artefacts. This Blu-ray probably looks exactly like the film Alambrista! and it advances well beyond the video-like representation of DVD. A real visual-presentation triumph, in my opinion!
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio is in a surprising linear PCM 2.0 track at 2304 kbps. It is more robust than one would have imagined with the limits of production notable from the video portion. There is some subtle strength here and dialogue is clean and clear with optional English subtitles. No fatal flaws.My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked like all Criterion Blu-ray releases before it..
Supplements are outstanding starting with a new audio commentary featuring director Robert M. Young and co-producer Michael Hausman divulging many less-exposed details of the story and production. There is a new interview with actor Edward James Olmos as he relates his friendship with director Young. Children of the Fields (1973), is a short documentary by Young, accompanied by a new interview with the director. There is also a trailer and a liner notes booklet with an essay by film historian Charles Ramírez Berg.
April 4th, 2012
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 5000 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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