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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Month in the Country [Blu-ray]

 

(Pat O'Connor, 1987)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Channel Four Films

Video: Twilight Time

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player) Limited to 3,000 Copies!

Runtime: 1:36:21.025  

Disc Size: 27,285,115,362 bytes

Feature Size: 26,725,533,696 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: July, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1035 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1078 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1909 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1694 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1799 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1799 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

Audio Commentary with Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman

Theatrical Trailer (2:05)

Isolated Score

Liner notes by Julie Kirgo

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Pat O’Connor (Cal) directs the wonderful Simon Gray’s adaptation of J.L. Carr’s touching novel, A Month in the Country (1987): the simply beautiful tale of a pair of emotionally wounded World War I veterans (Colin Firth and Kenneth Branagh in his film debut) who find some respite in the beautiful Yorkshire countryside and in their supportive friendship. As they work, respectively, on the restoration of an ancient church mural and the possible unearthing of an archeological treasure, they also encounter the local vicar’s young wife (a lovely Natasha Richardson); between them, this trio reflects the many faces of love and longing. Featuring a score by Howard Blake in the style of early 20th-century music, available on this Twilight Time release as an isolated track.

 

 

The Film:

Pat O'Connor directs this tranquil version of the J. L. Carr novel, adapted for the screen by Simon Gray. The film concerns two emotionally scarred men recovering from the horrors of World War I during an idyllic summer in the English countryside. It is 1919, and war veteran Tom Birkin (Colin Firth) travels to the small English village of Oxgodly to restore a medieval church mural that is hidden under coats of plaster. At the same time, another war veteran, archaeologist John Moon (Kenneth Branagh) is exploring the nearby fields trying to uncover an ancient church grave. As they toil away in this placid environment, their emotional war wounds are gradually healed, and they come to terms with their problems. Birkin finds himself falling in love with Alice Keach (Natasha Richardson), the wife of the local vicar, while Moon finds himself learning to deal with his homosexuality.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

In the summer of 1920, two traumatised victims of World War I meet in a Yorkshire village: Birkin (Firth), who stutters, has come to restore a mural in the local church, and Moon (Branagh), still tormented by nightmares, has come to excavate the land around it. Birkin falls for the beautiful wife (Richardson) of the uncharitable vicar (Malahide), and Moon falls for Birkin. Neither gets what he wants, but together they succeed in solving a minor mystery. O'Connor directs Simon Gray's script with great sensitivity. It's all taken at a gentle pace, but dullness is averted by a sly humour. The pretty-prettiness of Hovis commercials is not always avoided, and recurrent images of the apocalyptic painting, intended to give the rather pat plot a mystical resonance, don't; but all the performances are accomplished, and that of Firth is brilliant.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

 

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

A Month in the Country come to Twilight Time Blu-ray in a dual-layered, 1080P transfer with a very high bitrate. The visuals are abnormally thick showing some heavy textures but more video-like than grainy. Characters can look waxy and soft - almost like a softer-lens choice. It's in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  Colors are mostly muted but some outdoor greenery looks vibrant... but un-manipulated. It's a much more passive, and less crisp, video presentation than we are used to seeing in the new format, but is reasonably consistent and clean. I don't suspect DNR, but the image quality can give that impression. The Blu-ray gave me such a wonderful film presentation I'm not about to pick at the HD visuals too extensively.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master mono track at 1035 kbps sounds clean and flat without many impressive moments. There is some depth in rain and a few other isolated circumstances. The score is by Howard Blake (The Duellists) sounding comforting via the uncompressed transfer. Twilight Time offer an isolated score in a lossless track. This time there are no subtitle options and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Extras :

Another valuable commentary with film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman giving impressive interpretations of the subtext. There is also a theatrical trailer, the previously-mentioned isolated score and some liner notes by Julie Kirgo.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
A Month in the Country is a beautiful film that touches upon many, repressed, emotions and passions. I had never seen it before and was substantially impressed. It evolves subtly with a measured pace and is almost overwhelming it its, understated, gentler qualities.  It's a relaxing and touching film - and I am enthusiastic about re-watching it. The performances are very strong.  The Twilight Time Blu-ray provides an less-expected video appearance and further value with the commentary, isolated score and liner notes. It's a great package of a film that deserves more exposure - very strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

July 27th, 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.

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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