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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Mighty Angel aka "Pod mocnym aniolem" [Blu-ray]


(Wojciech Smarzowski, 2014)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Profil Film

Video: Zebra (DMMS Media Distribution)



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

Runtime: 1:45:14.600

Disc Size: 46,845,017,417 bytes

Feature Size: 27,065,757,696 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.00 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May, 2015



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 24 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Polish 2129 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2129 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Descriptive Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Polish 2141 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2141 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English (SDH), Polish, none



• Trailers (Polish)

• Director Intro/ Behind the Scenes? - all in Polish no subs (49:07)

The cover, booklet and extras are in all Polish only (unknown)





Description: Jerzy is a writer and a chronic alcoholic. We meet him at the point when he believes that he can beat his addiction. Him and her in bed. Somebody says "I love you". It seems that there is a reason and someone to live for... But when once she's gone and he's alone in a taxi, Jerzy can't stop himself any longer. He has a quick one at The Mighty Angel and then goes to an all-night shop and starts drinking heavily. And then foam, convulsions, vomiting. Jerzy ends up in intensive care. We meet the hospital staff and other alcoholics in the isolated ward. Part of the treatment is reading previously written stories from the times when the patients were drinking. There's an array of characters here: a lorry driver, a director, a pharmacist, some dossers too, a student and a policeman... there are no exceptions because anyone can be trapped in addiction. There are many amusing and authentic life stories (who has never laughed at a drunkard?) but there are also some terrifying ones...



The Film:

Polish cinephiles await Wojtek Smarzowski’s every film as impatiently as cinephiles in the USA wait for, let’s say, Quentin Tarantino’s pictures. Smarzowski is now a trademark of Polish quality cinema that can proudly be exported. He is an auteur. Surprisingly enough, after his latest success with Traffic Department (2013), his newest film The Mighty Angel (2014), an adaptation of a Jerzy Pilch novel, has been met with cold indifference and at times strong revulsion. But while Smarzowski’s newest production is yet another brilliant (yes, brilliant) piece of cinema, the reasons why it is criticised shed some light both on society’s attitude towards alcoholism and on the way in which we idealize the role of director in the collective art of filmmaking.

Between Wojciech Jerzy Has’ The Noose (1957) and The Mighty Angel, there was no remarkable film produced in Poland that tackled alcoholism in a comprehensive way.

Excerpt from located HERE

Wieckiewicz’ performance as Jerzy is stunning. To say he plays a convincing drunk is massive understatement. Wieckiewicz reveals every layer and nuance of a drunk’s behaviour, not just the inebriation, but also the denial, the self-justification and abject, horrifying desperation. At his lowest points Jerzy is a wretched, sad creature. But, at his best, often while proclaiming his ability to control his drinking, he is almost irresistibly attractive. Is Jersey a troubled genius or simply “full of shit?” The lustre in Wieckiewicz’s eyes tells us it is, of course, both.

The Mighty Angel, which was adapted from a successful novel by Jerzy Plich, isn’t just a single story of drunkenness. Through the other patients’ stories, we get a get a broader picture, not just of alcohol abuse, but also the ways friends, families and co-workers struggle to help or just cope with the effects of heavy drinking.

Excerpt from The Society For Film  located HERE

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

The Mighty Angel (Pod mocnym aniolem) is now available with an English-friendly Blu-ray presentation - out of Poland.  I have a theory - that the beginning of the film's visuals are heavier and a bit softer intentionally - perhaps reflecting the main character's lucid (less alcohol-induced) state, where as he 'imbibes' more the image becomes sharper. As if he sees the world clearer when he is drunk. This could also be a simple function of a more kinetic camera in those circumstances. It does seem there are more hand-held modulation in the first 1/2 hour. Interior and darker shots are a little green but, I would lean to such a modern film having little in the way of digital manipulation required. This is*probably* an authentic appearance in relation to the theatrical. As the film runs along the close-ups become crisper and depth is more readily apparent. This Blu-ray and film itself, exports a very realistic feel with a reasonable film-like sense to it. It is, predictably, clean and without marks or damage.



















Audio :

Audio comes in the form of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 2129 kbps in the original Polish - and like so many discs from this country - it has an optional descriptive audio track in a similarly robust lossless track - in Polish. There aren't many effects but some of the location atmosphere-developing audio does its job with a modicum of depth when required. The effective score is by Mikolaj Trzaska - who has composed for other Wojciech Smarzowski's films and it establishes a bond with the narrative that is very supportive. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.



Extras :

The cover, booklet and extras are in all Polish only (unknown) but I see trailers and a 3/4 of an hour 'Making of" with what appears to be one of the filmmakers involved. Anyway, no English subtitles on the extras - whatever they may entail.



The Mighty Angel is a very hardcore look at alcoholism - almost Bukowski-like. It pulls no punches and the performances are so strong it adds to the film's inherent vérité qualities. This is definitely not for anyone looking for a glamorous view of the addict. We have an incredibly powerful, and impacting film experience that I am still trying to shake-off. Wow. I must seek out more from Smarzowski. The Blu-ray does its job in offering me an English-friendly presentation and I am so glad to have seen it. This is a classic look at an alcoholic that I will surely revisit. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

June 30th, 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 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.

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Gary W. Tooze






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