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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Fear and Desire [Blu-ray]

 

(http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/kubrick.htm, 1953)

 

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Joseph Burstyn

Video: Kino Video / Masters of Cinema Spine # 126

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:01:24.806 / 1:01:13.711

Disc Size: 22,701,105,222 bytes / 36,686,508,436 bytes

Feature Size: 15,256,377,792 bytes / 17,665,036,416 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.81 Mbps / 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 10 / 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase / Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: October 23rd, 2012 / January 28th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

None / English, none

 

Extras:

• The Seafarers - Kubrick's first color film (28:55 in 1080P)

 

• Stanley Kubrick’s early short films, completing the totality of Kubrick’s films at last available on home video: Day of the Fight (1951 - 12:35 in 1080P) / Flying Padre (1951 - 8:37 in 1080P) / The Seafarers (1953 - 28:55 in 1080P) which appears on the Blu-ray in a new 1080p HD restoration
• New and exclusive video discussion of the film by critic and Stanley Kubrick author Bill Krohn (15:25 in 1080P)
• Substantial booklet containing a massive essay on Fear and Desire and the early shorts by critic and Kubrick scholar James Naremore; vintage excerpts; and rare archival imagery

 

Bitrate:

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description: An existential war film that is often compared with Kubrick's PATHS OF GLORY (1957) among three Kubrick films selected for the Library's National Film Registry-and FULL METAL JACKET (1987), FEAR AND DESIRE follows a squad of soldiers who have crash-landed behind enemy lines and must work their way downriver to rejoin their unit.

In the process, they encounter a peasant girl (Virginia Leith) and tie her to a tree, where she is tormented by a mentally unbalanced soldier (future director Paul Mazursky). Before making their escape, the soldiers determine the location of an enemy base and formulate a plot to assassinate its commanding officer.

Independently financed, and shot by a skeleton crew - with Kubrick controlling almost every aspect of production - FEAR AND DESIRE was conceived as a European-style art film, cloaked in the guise of a Hollywood war picture. Kubrick described the film to distributor Joseph Burstyn as allegorical and poetic. ''A drama of 'man', lost in a hostile world-deprived of material and spiritual foundations-seeking his way to an understanding of himself, and of life around him.''

 

 

The Film:

Kubrick said of Fear and Desire: Stanley Kubrick said of FEAR AND DESIRE: "The entire crew [...] consisted of myself as director, lighting cameraman, operator, administrator, make - up man, wardrobe, hairdresser, prop man, unit chauffeur, et cetera. The rest of the crew consisted of a friend of mine, Steve Hahn, who was an executive at Union Carbide and who took his holidays with us and knew something about electricity; another friend, Bob Dierks, who was the studio assistant at LOOK Magazine, helped me set up the equipment and put it away, and did a thousand other jobs; my first wife, Toba, who tried to cope with all the paperwork and minor administration; and three Mexican labourers who carried the cases around. Particularly in those days, before the advent of film schools, Nagra [sound-recorders], and lightweight portable equipment, it was very important to have this experience and to see with what little facilities and personnel one could actually make a film. Today, I think that if someone stood around watching even a smallish film unit, he would get the impression of vast technical and logistical magnitude. He would probably be intimidated by this and assume that something close to this was necessary in order to achieve more or less professional results. This experience and the one that followed with KILLER'S KISS, which was on a slightly more cushy basis, freed me from any concern again about the technical or logistical aspects of filmmaking."

Excerpt from Amazon UK located HERE

Legendary director Stanley Kubrick made his feature debut with this allegorical drama about war. Four soldiers whose plane has crashed discover they're behind enemy lines in an unnamed country. Desperate to escape, they decide to build a raft and travel up the nearby river into allied country. However, their presence is discovered by a local woman who stumbles across them in the woods, and they learn that an enemy general is nearby, determined to flush them out. Stanley Kubrick served as producer, director, screenwriter, editor, and cinematographer on Fear and Desire, which he made on a budget of only $40,000. One of the soldiers was played by Paul Mazursky, who later went on to a distinguished directorial career of his own. Kubrick displayed little enthusiasm for his debut feature later in his career, and is said to have attempted to prevent it from being screened on several occasions.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

Fear and Desire finally arrives on official digital and on Blu-ray for that matter via Kino Films in the US but will also be released with more extras in the UK by The Masters of Cinema. It looks batter than I was anticipating and is described as 'restored and remastered in HD from an original camera negative and thanks to the preservation efforts of the Library of Congress'.  This is only single-layered but the film itself is just over an hour long. Contrast exhibits some nice layering and is essentially shot entirely in daylight. This Blu-ray can't really go wrong with the solid source but possibly dual-layering would bring out more of the grain textures.  By modern standards this is fairly tame visually but as a representation of the original - it provides an impressive presentation.

It has become commonplace for us to expect that The Masters of Cinema releases will best their Kino counterparts... as they do here. The video transfer is marginally superior technically with a higher bitrate. Contrast may be a small notch better on the UK disc but for most the image quality will mirror the Kino 1080P. Same rounded bottom right corners and same speckles. Looks great.

 

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

 

Subtitle Sample Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

 

Audio :

Gerald Fried was a composer and oboist who did scores for other Kubrick films; Killer's Kiss, The Killing and Paths of Glory as well as venturing later into work in TV (Star Trek) and the notable Joseph H. Lewis' western Terror in a Texas Town. The score is somewhat obtuse and bold in Fear and Desire with odd high-pitched flute but sounds impacting in Kino's linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps. The high-end is supported well. There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

Duplicate linear PCM audio to the Kino although the Masters of Cinema offers optional English subtitles on their region 'B' Blu-ray presentation.

 

Extras :

The only supplement is Kubrick's first color film - a documentary entitled The Seafarers. It was made just after the release of Fear and Desire and runs just shy of 1/2 hour in 1080P extolling the benefits of membership to the Seafarers International Union. Unfortunately, no liner notes of video discussions of Fear and Desire.

Masters of Cinema eclipse the Kino extras with three of Stanley Kubrick’s early short films, completing the totality of Kubrick’s films at last available on home video: Day of the Fight (1951 - 12:35 in 1080P) / Flying Padre (1951 - 8:37 in 1080P) / The Seafarers (1953 - 28:55 in 1080P) - the latter also available on the Kino. MoC also add a fabulous new (Nov 2012) video discussion of the film by critic and Stanley Kubrick author Bill Krohn running over 15-minutes in HD. The UK package contains a substantial booklet containing a massive essay on Fear and Desire and the early shorts by critic and Kubrick scholar James Naremore; vintage excerpts; and rare archival imagery.

 

Kino Video - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Fear and Desire is no classic but it is a curious purchase for those seeking inside the 24-year old mind of the master director Stanley Kubrick. There isn't much of his signature but there are sparks of camera angles and use of shadows that may placate the completists who are keen enough to purchase. This looks solid but relevant extras relating to the film would have made this Blu-ray package far more desirable.

As Bill Krohn relates - a fairly impressive first feature considering all issues. It's great to have the other Kubrick early short films now making the Masters of Cinema, with the discussion and booklet, the most satisfying of the two Blu-ray editions.

Gary Tooze

October 11th, 2012

January 2nd, 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 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.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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