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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Nymphomaniac Volumes I. & II [2 Blu-ray discs]

 

(Lars von Trier, 2013/2014)

 

 

Magnolia also offer Volumes 1 and 2 separately on Blu-ray:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Zentropa Entertainments

Video: Artificial Eye vs. Magnolia

 

Disc:

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

Volume One Runtime: 1:57:20.408 (cut version) / 1:57:28.833 (cut version)

Volume Two Runtime: 2:03:30.069 / 2:03:37.410

Disc One Size: 41,999,675,805 bytes / 41,492,372,294 bytes

Disc Two Size: 34,944,805,015 bytes / 44,185,918,830 bytes

Volume One Feature Size: 31,532,918,784 bytes / 35,672,156,160 bytes

Volume Two Feature Size: 30,450,954,240 bytes / 37,467,138,048 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.48 Mbps / 25.73 Mbps / 34.92 Mbps / 34.95 Mbps

Chapters: 12 + 12 / 16 + 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case / Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 28th, 2014 / July 8th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3250 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3250 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3450 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3450 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

English (SDH), Spanish, None

 

Extras: (Disc 1)

Interview Charlotte Gainsbourg (12:11)

Interview Shia LaBeouf (8:59)

Interview Stacy Martin (10:18)

Interview Stellan Skarsgård (11:21)

 

Extras: (Disc 2)
• Live Q+A with actor Stellan Skarsgård and actresses Stacy Martin and Sophie Kennedy Clark (23:46)

 

Extras: (Disc 1)

The Characters (9:39)

AXS TV : A Look at Nymphomaniac (3:02)

Nymphomaniac Vol 1 Trailer (1:47)

Magnolia Trailers

BD Live - Bookmarkable

 

Extras: (Disc 2)

• The Director (8:50)

• The Sex (6:19)

Nymphomaniac Vol 2 Trailer (1:44)

Magnolia Trailers (8:55)

BD Live - Bookmarkable

 

Bitrates:

Volume 1

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Volume 2

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Description: Nymphomaniac is the wild and poetic story of a woman's journey from birth to the age of 50 as told by the main character, the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg). On a cold winter's evening the old, charming bachelor, Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), finds Joe beaten up in an alley. He brings her home to his flat where he cares for her wounds while asking her about her life. He listens intently as Joe over the next 8 chapters recounts the lusty, branched-out and multifaceted story of her life, rich in associations and interjecting incidents.

The new film from Lars von Trier (Melancholia, Antichrist), Nymphomaniac contains all the shock and controversy you would expect from the unrivalled enfant terrible of contemporary cinema. But don't let that put you off, because underneath the surface is a richly complex, fearlessly intelligent and frequently hilarious work that will provoke thoughts you never knew you had.

 

 

 

The Films:

Volume 1

A brutalized young woman recalls her many sexual exploits to the kindly bachelor who nurses her back to health in this sexually charged drama from acclaimed director Lars von Trier. When Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) finds Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) clinging to life in a darkened alley, he brings her back to his apartment, and begins tending to her wounds. Meanwhile, comfortable in the company of the benevolent stranger, Joe finds her thoughts drifting back to her youth, and her dramatic sexual awakening. A self-professed nymphomaniac, Joe's vividly erotic stories gradually reveal her to be an intensely sexual creature whose carnal appetite knows no limits. Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Udo Kier, Connie Nielsen, and Shia LaBeouf co-star in a film featuring Stacy Martin as a young Joe.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Given his talent for provocation, for tweaking critics and blurting out idiocies — including his unpersuasive assertion that he was a Nazi, during a news conference at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival — it would be easy to dismiss his latest, “Nymphomaniac: Volume I,” sight unseen. The title is preposterous, a huckster gimmick; it may also be a dig at those who, I think wrongly, label him a misogynist because of the abuse he rains down on his female characters. It’s a charge that’s dogged him since “Breaking the Waves,” his sometimes brutal, sometimes sublime 1996 film about a woman who endures a crucible of suffering (her paralyzed husband asks her to have sex with other men) before dying. Women suffer in Mr. von Trier’s films, yet they also dominate, shape and haunt his work.

Excerpt from Manhola Dargis at the Ny Times located HERE

Volume 2

A young sexual life is told in this explicit drama from Lars Von Trier. Charlotte Gainsbourg reteams with her Antichrist director as Jo, the free spirit who dishes on her exploits to an older man (Stellan Skarsgard).

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

To keep our interest, Mr. von Trier falls back on some old tricks. He is a master of intimate dread, at moving his camera past the comfort zone into psychic and visual territory fraught with danger and shame. The scenes between Joe and a man she calls K (Jamie Bell), who tends to her needs with the help of rope, duct tape and a riding crop but refuses more conventional sexual relations, show an intriguing, unnerving blend of tenderness and cruelty. But at other moments, you are mostly aware of the effort being made to freak you out. A sequence that echoes the beginning of “Antichrist” — in which a young child is lethally endangered by parental neglect — feels crude and unimaginative the second time around.

Excerpt from A.O.Scott at the NY Times located HERE

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

Firstly, I believe Volume One on this AE Blu-ray is the 'Cut Version". There supposedly is an 'Uncut' version that is about 27-minutes longer. I am only going by IMDb on this.

Nymphomaniac - Volumes 1 & 2 gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye. The package features 2 dual-layered Blu-ray discs - each containing a 'Volume'.  The total time is almost exactly 4-hours. Quality is the same for both discs despite as slight drop in the video bitrate for the second transfer. Everything looks flawless in 1080P supporting movements in style. Ex. there is a long section around the middle of Volume 2 (with Willem Dafoe) is notably grainy. There are other specific modulations for flashbacks or memories but I imagine they all look as intended - sometimes dark or flat. More a function of the style than any weaknesses in the transfer. This includes black and white cinematography and looks quite pleasing (see sample below). The image is, as you might expect, pristinely clean. Contrast exhibits healthy black levels and some minor depth in the 2.35:1 frame.  It showcases some hi-def detail in close-ups and I see no noise or digital manipulations. This Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the theatrical presentation. It seems devoid of imperfections of any kind and can, frequently, look beautiful.

 

My eyes were fooling me as I constantly was seeing minute differences. Perhaps slightly cooler skin tones. The Magnolia transfer is more robust with a higher bitrate and, in some areas, may show improvement, but generally is as good, and probably slightly superior, to the Artificial Eye. It also looks very strong - no issues at all.

 

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

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

Volume 1

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Volume 2

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP

2) Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

Audio for both films is offered in a very robust DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at over 3000 kbps. There is also a, less dynamic, linear PCM stereo track. While there is no composed score there is plenty of brilliant music including Shostakovich, Johann Sebastian Bach, Richard Wagner, Beethoven, Mozart, Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild, Talking Heads' live version of Burning Down the House, and Charlotte Gainsbourg singing 'Hey Joe' (Lars von Trier personally asked her to record a version of the song for the end credits after he was unable to secure the rights to Jimi Hendrix's version.) Audio is a strong point sounding crisp and fabulous throughout. Separations were minimal but when exported - were very tight and clean. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified both discs as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

No stereo option on the Magnolia but the lossless 5.1 surround sounds exactly the same as its UK counterpart to my ears. The optional subtitles have a slightly smaller (size), but bolder, font and the disc is region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Extras consist of about 40-minutes worth of separate interviews with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin and Stellan Skarsgård on the first Blu-ray. They are all interesting - topics cover working with Von Trier, how they became involved in the project, their characters etc. On the second Blu-ray is a 24-minute Live Q+A with actor Stellan Skarsgård and actresses Stacy Martin and Sophie Kennedy Clark - host Edith Bowman at the Curzon Chelsea Cinema. Martin and Clark agree that von Trier provides his actors with substantial creative license in adapting their characters. Mostly, it was fairly surface questions from the audience.

 

Not as much as the Artificial Eye, but still some good input - mostly from Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgård - although less than a 1/2 hour's worth in total - so AE wins this category although the Magnolia offers BD-Live accessibility and is bookmarkable.

 

Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Volume 1

 

 

Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Volume 2

 

 

Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Volume 1

 

Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray Volume 2

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Despite the subject matter, Von Trier always makes visually arresting films. Both parts of Nymphomaniac have incredibly interesting camera movements. This is always a huge strength of his films. I'm glad I saw this - it collapsed some uninformed-judgments I was forming. In many senses this is a fabulous film - and certainly beautiful and interesting would be two of the adjectives I might use. The subject matter (in the misogynistic sense) can be off-putting but those exposed to the director's work accept this continuous theme - rather than be repelled by it. The Artificial Eye Blu-ray package provides an excellent a/v presentation with some appreciated supplements. Personally, I would consider this a 'don't hesitate' for those cinephiles prepared for what the films may offer. The 4-hours can be draining if not broken-up. The credits offer this statement: "None of the professional actors had penetrative sexual intercourse and all such scenes were performed by body doubles." If you are unfamiliar with the director - I'd recommend staring with Breaking the Waves. His expanded growth as an artist is marvelous but can, also, be an acquired taste although I found this more approachable than Antichrist.

 

Some will be disappointed that the Magnolia V1 is still the 'cut version' (will the individual releases be 'uncut'?). I'd say the two Vol. (1+2) Blu-ray editions have a lot of parity - a notch ahead for the US video and another notch ahead for the UK supplements. Quite the draining film experience although still, very, impacting. We still give a strong endorsement - perhaps the best of the director's 'Depression Trilogy". Recommended!  

Gary Tooze

April 15th, 2014

June 19th, 2014

 

Magnolia also offer Volumes 1 and 2 separately on Blu-ray:


 

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.

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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