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The Fisher King [Blu-ray]
(Terry Gilliam, 1991)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Columbia Pictures Corporation
Video: Criterion Collection Spine #764
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 48,986,569,448 bytes
Feature Size: 29,722,423,296 bytes
Video Bitrate: 23.50 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: June 23rd, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3457 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3457 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
English (SDH), none
• Audio commentary featuring Gilliam
Jeff and Jack (22:01)
Description: A fairy tale grounded in poignant reality, the magnificent, Manhattan-set The Fisher King, by Terry Gilliam, features Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams in two of their most brilliant roles. Bridges plays a former radio shock jock reconstructing his life after a scandal, and Williams is a homeless man on a quest for the Holy Grail—which he believes to be hidden somewhere on the Upper East Side. Unknowingly linked by their pasts, the two men aid each other on a fanciful journey to redemption. This singular American odyssey features a witty script by Richard La Gravenese, evocative cinematography by Roger Pratt, and superb supporting performances by Amanda Plummer and an Oscar-winning Mercedes Ruehl, all harnessed by Gilliam into a humane, funny modern-day myth.
Terry Gilliam directed this adaptation of Richard LaGravenese's mystical (and mythical) tale of redemption in the hard-time town of New York City. Jeff Bridges is shock radio DJ Jack Lucas, whose low opinion of humanity lends itself well to his radio talk show, where the enmity rubs off on his listeners. One fan in particular takes Jack's rants to heart and goes to a fancy restaurant with a gun, murdering innocent diners. Jack is so distraught at what his on-air suggestion wrought that he sinks into a three-year depression, drinking himself to sleep and mooching off of his girlfriend Anne Napolitano (Mercedes Ruehl, in an Oscar-winning performance), an attractive owner of a video store. Hitting bottom, Jack slumps to the river, prepared to commit suicide. To his rescue comes a crazed but witty homeless man named Parry (Robin Williams), who tells Jack he's destined for great things -- all his has to do is find the Holy Grail (conveniently located in mid-town Manhattan) and save Parry's soul. He also wants Jack to help him out with the woman of his dreams, Lydia Sinclair (Amanda Plummer), a shy type who works at a publishing company. Parry was once a university professor became unglued by a tragic event in his past; Jack soon realizes that to save himself, he first must save Parry.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
When New York radio DJ Jack Lucas (Bridges) inadvertently drives a listener to commit mass murder, his confidence and career crumble. Three years on, he's rescued from suicide and muggers by Parry (Williams), a deranged hobo whose wife died in the massacre. A former professor of medieval history, Parry has two dreams: to retrieve the Holy Grail, and to win the heart of the fair Lydia (Plummer). Consumed by guilt, doubtful about his future with his lover Anne (Ruehl), Lucas concludes he can redeem himself if only he can bring Parry and Lydia together. The plot may be wayward, but Gilliam's film is mostly funny and exhilarating: at once nightmarish and deeply romantic, a partly fantastic study in loneliness, lunacy, despair and violence, it's also spectacularly visual (despite the atypical dearth of special effects). Moreover, Gilliam allows his actors unprecedented space, and they respond admirably (Bridges and Plummer especially). Scary, touching, often hilarious, this modern fairytale is surprisingly enchanting.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Fisher King looks very pleasing on Blu-ray from Criterion. The 1080P transfer handles the film's many dark sequences without difficulty. There is no noise and the visuals are exceptionally clean without speckles or dirt of any kind. This is dual-layered with a supportive bitrate for the 2 1/4 hour film. It looks to me like a splendid representation of the film. It is in the original 1.785:1 aspect ratio and contrast, Criterion's usual hallmark, and detail are impressive in the low level lighting, outdoor night sequences and occasional close-ups. They are subtle examples of depth. This Blu-ray has no discernable flaws and supplies a wonderful 1080P presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Criterion use a powerful DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a whopping 3457 kbps. It handles most of the film's requirements with ease and sounds pristine in both high end and bass and snippets of deft, head-turning, separation. The Fisher King has a great, noble, score by George Fenton (Planet Earth, Life) but also so many memorable tunes including Harry Nilsson singing How About You? - as well as much of the cast, Ray Charles' Hit The Road Jack, John Coltrane's I Wish I Knew, Chill Rob G's The Power and many more - all sounding rich and resonant. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.
Criterion include the amazing audio commentary featuring Gilliam found on their, long out-of-print, Laserdisc which at one time I believe I listened to on YouTube. It's great to own and hear the impressive details of the production from the man who knew the film best. An amazing supplement is an hour long video piece entitled The Tale of the Fisher King divided into two new documentaries entitled The Fool and the Wounded King and The Real and the Fantastical in which we are told the full details of The Fisher King's production through new interviews with Gilliam; producer Lynda Obst; screenwriter Richard La Gravenese; and actors Jeff Bridges, Amanda Plummer, and Mercedes Ruehl. One of the better supplements I've seen this year. There are also new interviews with artists Keith Greco and Vincent Jefferds on the creation of the film’s Red Knight - realizing director Terry Gilliam's vision in the pre-digital era. It runs about 20-minutes or so. We get a very interesting video interview from 2006 with actor Robin Williams for 19-minutes discussing his thoughts on The Fisher King and a new, 12-minute, video essay featuring Bridges’ on-set photographs, captured with his trust Wideluc camera, entitled 'Jeff's Tale'. There is a piece called Jeff and Jack - which constitutes 22-minutes in which, via production footage, Jeff Bridges transforms into a radio shock jock Jack with the help of acting coach Stephen Bridewater. There are 6 deleted scenes (with surrounding footage to give context) with optional commentary by Gilliam, 3 minutes of 'Costume tests' and 9-minutes of trailers plus the package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Bilge Ebiri.
May 29th, 2015
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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