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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

L'Assassino aka The Assassin [Blu-ray]


(Elio Petri, 1961)


Being Released, by Arrow, in the US, on Blu-ray in April 2017:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Vides Cinematografica

Video: Arrow Video



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

Runtime: 1:38:14.763

Disc Size: 39,701,411,573 bytes

Feature Size: 28,682,235,456 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.83 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: July 21st, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit



English, none



Elio Petri and L'Assassino, an introduction by Italian cinema expert Pasquale Iannone (9:41)
Tonino Guerra: A Poet in the Movies: Nicola Tranquillino s documentary about the great Italian screenwriter (51:15)
Theatrical Trailer (3:45)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw
Booklet featuring new writing on the film by Elio Petri expert Camilla Zamboni, plus a selection of contemporary reviews

DVD of the feature + extras







Released within months of Fellini's La Dolce Vita and Antonioni's La Notte, Elio Petri s dazzling first feature L'Assassino also stars Marcello Mastroianni, this time as dandyish thirtysomething antiques dealer Alfredo Martelli, arrested on suspicion of murdering his older, far wealthier lover Adalgisa (Micheline Presle). But as the increasingly Kafkaesque police investigation proceeds, it becomes less and less important whether Martelli actually committed the crime as his entire lifestyle is effectively put on trial.

Best known for Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and The Tenth Victim, Petri was one of the finest and yet most underrated Italian directors of the 1960s and 70s. Highly acclaimed on its original UK release but unjustly neglected since, L'Assassino is a remarkably assured debut from one of the cinema s sharpest chroniclers of Italian social and political realities. Petri said that he wanted to reflect the changes wrought by the early sixties, and to examine a new generation of upstarts who lacked any kind of moral scruple .
Arrow Academy is proud to present the first ever UK video release of L'Assassino in a gorgeous high-definition restoration created by the Cineteca di Bologna.



The Film:

Among the great wave of film debuts in the late 1950s and early 1960s, that of Rome-born director Elio Petri is often overshadowed by those of his contemporaries both in Italy and abroad. Even in terms of Petri’s own body of work, later films such as the Oscar-winning Indagine d’un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (Investigation of A Citizen Above Suspicion, 1970) and Todo modo (1976) are undoubtedly much better-known than his earlier work, especially outside of Italy.

Shot largely on location in the Italian capital, and starring Marcello Mastroianni and Salvo Randone, L’assassino (1961) is a typically Kafkaesque tale; the story of an unscrupulous antiques dealer in his mid-30s suspected of murdering his wealthy older lover. “L’Assassino reflected the changes wrought by the early 60s”, Petri said in a 1979 interview. “[What it was about] was a new generation of upstarts who lacked any kind of moral scruple.” The director argued that, maybe even more than Kafka, the film was Camusian in its outlook, especially in terms of its use of irony.

Excerpt from Senses of Cinema located HERE


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

L'Assassino gets a 1080P transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films. The presentation starts with a screen, in Italian: translated as "The digital restoration of L'Assassino was made from the original camera negative which was missing the first and last roll, and from a first-generation interpositive. These two elements were scanned at 2K resolution for the restoration. The grading was carried out by referring to the original print version that was held by the production company Titanus in the archives of the Cineteca di Bologna. The sound was extracted from a 35mm negative and digitally remastered."  It's dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. Certain segments can tend to looker thicker and softer than others. Once beyond the first roll - the image quality appears to take an up-tick and contrast may be its high-point. The image is fairly flat and in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. I believe I see some textures and the naturally lit scenes tend to look the best. This Blu-ray looks quite pleasing in-motion.




















Audio :

This Arrow Blu-ray offers a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps in original Italian. It was stated that the sound was extracted from a 35mm negative and digitally remastered. The audio is, predictably, flat. Italian composer and jazz musician Piero Piccioni (Hands Over the City, The 10th Victim, The Moment of Truth) did the score which benefits from the uncompressed rendering. It adds a nice flavor to the atmosphere. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Arrow add some new extras - at their own cost. We get an introduction by Italian cinema expert Pasquale Iannone for almost 10-minutes entitled Elio Petri and L'Assassino. Tonino Guerra: A Poet in the Movies is Nicola Tranquillino's documentary running over 50-minutes and is an intimate portrait of the legendary Italian screenwriter, poet, painter, ceramist, artist Tonino Guerra. Described as "Guerra recounts the key moments of his life, from his childhood in Santarcangelo di Romagna to his retirement in the small mountain village of Pennabilli. A poet's big adventure in the world of movies, his encounters and collaboration with some of the greatest film directors of our time - Fellini, Antonioni, Rosi, De Sica, Monicelli, Tarkovsky and Angelopoulos just to mention a few." There is a theatrical trailer ands the package has a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw plus there is a booklet featuring new writing on the film by Elio Petri expert Camilla Zamboni, plus a selection of contemporary reviews. Being Dual-format it has a DVD of the feature + extras.



I was really impressed with L'Assassino... and appreciative to see it in 1080P via the Arrow Blu-ray. Those that enjoyed Elio Petri's previous films will feel wonderful about more of his work reaching HD. I was also pleased to see the included supplements. I consider this a 'must-see' film and another solid package from Arrow. 

Gary Tooze

July 15th, 2014

Being Released, by Arrow, in the US, on Blu-ray in April 2017:


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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