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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Madame DuBarry [Blu-ray]

 

(Ernst Lubitsch, 1919)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Projektions-AG Union (PAGU)

Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #92

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:54:13.888

Disc Size: 47,504,662,578 bytes

Feature Size: 35,750,882,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.55 Mbps

Chapters: 17

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: September 22nd, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Score 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Als Ich Tot War (37:46)

DVD of the feature and extra
• A lavish 36-page full-colour booklet containing new essays on each of the films by critic and filmmaker David Cairns, and rare archival imagery.

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Before Ernst Lubitsch created his eminently sophisticated Hollywood sex comedies, he was at work in Germany perfecting his earliest entries into the genre, alongside sweeping ironic dramas based on historical events and often set in exotic locales. One of his earliest successes merged elements of both modes: Madame DuBarry.

A recounting--la-Lubitsch of the torrid affair between the title character (Pola Negri) and France's King Louis XV (Emil Jannings, who would go on to portray Henry VIII in Lubitsch's Anna Boleyn of the following year a film that neatly bookends Madame DuBarry), the picture spans scandalous intrigue at the court and the ring of the guillotine among the riotous mobs of the Revolution.

Also included in this edition is Lubitsch's earliest surviving film, the 1916 Als ich tot war [When I Was Dead], which stars the director himself in a lead role that involves his faked suicide and (prefiguring the later Die Puppe.) an infiltration of the domestic space whilst in disguise (not as an automaton, but as a servant). The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Madame DuBarry and Als ich tot war in a special Dual Format (Blu-ray + DVD) edition for the first time.

 

 

The Film:

It is also as a cinematician that Mr. Lubitch and whoever may have been responsible with him have won distinction. The settings seem truly of the Paris of the latter eighteenth century, and the costuming and habits of the people portrayed are harmonious with them. And few spectacles, if any, have surpassed the scenes of the street crowds and revolutionary mobs, which increase in number and importance as the story hurries to its final scene—du Barry at the guillotine. The French Revolution has never been so vividly pictured, probably, as in this photoplay. "What is was, as ugly as it was, and as human, is forcefully presented, which means dramatically.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

In 1919, before Ernst Lubitsch was known for his famous "touch," the master director made something like nine films--a perfect opportunity for an artist to really practice his craft. Even he had to start somewhere.

Lubitsch's costume drama, Madame Dubarry, based on the famous French courtesan, screened at San Francisco's 2001 Berlin and Beyond Film Festival in a restored print. The intertitles were in German and were translated aloud in English. Dennis James composed a new score and performed live on the Castro Theater's Mighty Wurlitzer organ. It was an amazing experience.

Excerpt from Combustible Celluiloid located HERE

 

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

I was very anxious to see the restoration by FW-Murnau-Stiftung for Madame DuBarry - and looking at this Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema it's hit the ball out of the park. Wow. The image quality is extremely impressive - the tints are bright - bordering on vibrant. The contrast and detail are beyond my expectations and it is simply wonderful in-motion with only some predictable scratches scattered throughout. This Blu-ray provides a fabulous 1080P  presentation. Visually this gets high marks as the screen captures below should indicate.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Masters of Cinema use a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 2304 kbps which is fairly robust for a Silent film. But I found William Axt's intense score does wonders for the viewing experience. It sounded magnificent - rich and supportive of the 'French Revolution' aura. There are optional English subtitles for the original combined French + German intertitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

 

Extras :

Extras include the, once thought lost, Ernst Lubitsch’s earliest surviving film, a 1916 comedy, Als Ich Tot War running almost 38-minutes, being a dual-format editions - a DVD of the feature and extra, and MoC have one of their impressive booklets (36-page full-color) containing new essays on each of the films by critic and filmmaker David Cairns, and rare archival imagery.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Madame DuBarry is the story of the title character, the mistress of Louis XV of France, and her loves in the time of the French revolution. I was blown away by the HD presentation and I thoroughly enjoyed the film as well with its grandiose sets and attention to detail. I will have to revisit Als Ich Tot War although I was initially amused. I think this was a superb choice for MoC to release on Blu-ray. Yes, we can easily recommend this as a part of any Silent-Era fan's digital library. 

Gary Tooze

September 4th, 2014

 


 

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 3500 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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