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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Selfish Giant [Blu-ray]


(Clio Barnard, 2013)


Coming out on DVD, April 29th, 2014 by MPI:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Moonspun Films

Video: Artificial Eye



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

Runtime: 1:30:35.208

Disc Size: 29,340,374,214 bytes

Feature Size: 21,357,146,112 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.45 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 27th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1603 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1603 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit






Interview with director Clio Barnard, actors Conner Chapman and Sean Thomas (12:01)
Alternate Ending (1:38)
Theatrical Trailer (2:07)
Deleted Scenes (12:14)





Description: The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about 13-year-old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighbourhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local scrapdealer - the Selfish Giant. They begin collecting scrap metal for him using a horse and cart. Swifty has a natural gift with horses while Arbor emulates Kitten - keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favours Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt and excluded, driving a wedge between the boys. Arbor becomes increasingly greedy and exploitative, becoming more like Kitten. Tensions build, leading to a tragic event, which transforms them all.



The Film:

Two young schoolboys find their close-knit friendship beginning to unravel as they fall under the spell of an unscrupulous scrap-dealer in this bleak drama based on the story by Oscar Wilde. Consummate outsiders both in school and in life, 13-year-old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best mate Swifty (Shaun Thomas) find their futures looking uncertain after being expelled from school. Despite their shared setback, both boys remain determined to provide for their families, even if it means performing shady jobs for local scrap-metal merchant Kitten (Sean Gilder). Meanwhile, despite Arbor's desperate attempts to impress and emulate his questionable new mentor, it's Swifty who truly interests the manipulative Kitten. As this sad reality slowly begins to dawn on Arbor, a deep divide opens between the troubled teen and his former best friend, paving the way for a tragedy that will affect the lives of all involved.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The Selfish Giant has Ken Loach's Kes in its DNA; Chapman looks eerily like the young David Bradley in some scenes, and Sean Gilder is a grisly, ironic, unfunny reincarnation of Brian Glover's PE teacher: a father figure who can only destroy. I would also compare it to Loach's The Navigators. The Selfish Giant does not have the formally innovatory quality of Barnard's previous work The Arbor, the "verbatim cinema" experiment that made her name, but the direct humanity and sympathy here signal her maturity as a film-maker, particularly in the handling of the two young leads. There is enormous pathos in the way Thomas traces Swifty's ascent from protected to protector; as well as in Conner Chapman's scrappy, wounded defiance and in the exquisite insolence he shows to the two coppers who come round to give him a warning: he demands that they remove their shoes in the house. It is a richly allusive and moving work. And Barnard's own stature isn't in doubt.

Excerpt from The Guardian located HERE

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

The Selfish Giant gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye.  It sneaks into dual-layered territory and has a reasonable bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. Colors are fairly passive and there is no noise in the darker sequences. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, black levels and decent shadow detail using the Arri Alexa camera. There is some frequent depth in the 1.85:1 frame.  It's pristinely clean with consistent detail and there are really no flaws with the rendering. The film is not visually dynamic but there are some nice touches with impressive clarity. This Blu-ray provides an enjoyable, and I suspect accurate, HD presentation.


















Audio :

Audio comes in the form of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a modest 1603 kbps. There is also a liner PCM 2.0 channel. There aren't a lot of separations - its really not that type of film but there is some minor depth notable in the score by Harry Escott (who has composed for the excellent feature Hard Candy as well as some documentary work.) The horses and minor effects help the realism but it never really tests the track. There are no subtitles (English might have been a good idea because of the thick accents) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Artificial Eye include consecutive interviews with director Clio Bernard, and then the boy actors Conner Chapman and Sean Thomas running about a dozen minutes in total. This works well as a brief introduction to both the boys and the director's intelligent vision. Of, course, it would have been longer. There is also an alternate ending running a brief 1.5 minutes, a theatrical trailer and 12-minutes of deleted scenes.



Wow - next time you feel life is treating you unfairly - I suggest popping this disc in and you'll get brought back to earth pretty darn quick. The Selfish Giant is near masterpiece. Director Barnard seems in total control without using the children or their masked innocence as an exploitive manipulation tool in advancing the emotions of the desperate story. This is a harsh, exhausting and melancholy film of maturity. God damn, I found this hard-hitting. The Artificial Eye Blu-ray provides and supportive a/v presentation with worthy, if not extensive supplements. I'll put this in the 'don't hesitate' category for digital librarians everywhere. This shouldn't have got by our radar for so long. Very strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

March 3rd, 2014

Coming out on DVD, April 29th, 2014 by MPI:


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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