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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Rossellini & Bergman Collection (Limited Edition Numbered Blu-ray Box Set) (Stromboli Land of God, Journey to Italy, Fear) [Blu-ray]

 

(Roberto Rossellini, 1950, 1954, 1954)

 

 

Blu-ray Package:

Stromboli Land of God

Journey to Italy

Fear

Runtime:

1:39:47.541

English: 1:26:08.750

Italian: 1:23:15.250

1:22:49.625 
Disc Size:

49,161,665,654 bytes

47,444,936,085 bytes

39,101,741,661 bytes
Feature Size:

23,775,645,696 bytes

22,242,834,432 bytes

18,513,051,648 bytes
Video Bitrate 28.00 Mbps 27.00 Mbps 26.69 Mbps
y

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Berit Films / Ponti-De Laurentiis Cinematografica / Italia Film

Video: BFI

 

Disc:

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

Case: Custom Blu-ray case

Release date: July 20th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.37:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Italian 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit (Stromboli)

LPCM Audio Italian 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit (Journey to Italy - Italian -language)

Journey to Italy (English): LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Fear: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit 

 

Commentaries on Journey to Italy: LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

Disc One (Stromboli Land of God)

Bergman & Magnani: The War of the Volcanoes (Francesco Patierno, 2012, 53:59): documentary charting the scandal of the Magnani-Rossellini-Bergman love triangle
Ingrid Bergman at the National Film Theatre (Chris Mohr, 1981, 37:07): archival Guardian interview
Living & Departed (Tag Gallagher, 2013, 18:45): a visual essay by film scholar Tag Gallagher
 

Disc 2 Journey to Italy

Viaggio in Italia (Roberto Rossellini, 1954, 83 mins): the alternative, Italian cut of Journey to Italy
Journey to Italy audio commentary with filmmaker and academic Laura Mulvey (2003)
Alternative Journey to Italy audio commentary with film scholar Adrian Martin (2007)
My Dad is 100 Years Old (Guy Maddin, 2005, 18:01): Isabella Rossellini's playful tribute to her father

Disc 3 Fear
The Machine That Kills Bad People (Roberto Rossellini, 1952, 1:24:34 (Italian with English subtitles): a fascinating film that reflects Rossellini's transition from neo-realism to the more poetic films he made with Bergman


Fully illustrated booklet featuring new writing by Tag Gallagher, Adriano Aprą, Laura Mulvey, Peter Bondanella and Paul Fairclough, and full film credits.

 

Bitrate:

Stromboli

 

 

Journey to Italy (English Language)

 

 

Journey to Italy (Italian) aka "Viaggio in Italia"

 

 

Fear aka "Non credo pił all'amore (La paura)"

 

 

Description: In 1950, one of Italy's most celebrated filmmakers, Roberto Rossellini, and one of Hollywood's greatest screen stars, Ingrid Bergman, came together to make the classic Stromboli Land of God. On that production, they embarked not only on an extraordinary artistic collaboration but also on an affair which would send shockwaves throughout the film world. By 1954, their real-life relationship was crumbling, and films such as Journey to Italy appeared to echo reality.

This numbered, limited edition brings together three of Rossellini and Bergman's greatest collaborations Stromboli Land of God, Journey to Italy and Fear in newly restored presentations, with extensive extra features including Rossellini's rare 1952 feature film The Machine That Kills Bad People, Francesco Patierno's 2012 documentary The War of the Volcanoes, and Isabella Rossellini's homage to her father, My Dad is 100 Years Old (2005, dir. Guy Maddin).

 

 

The Film (Stromboli):

The first collaboration between Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman is a devastating portrait of a woman’s existential crisis, set against the beautiful and forbidding backdrop of a volcanic island. After World War II, a Lithuanian refugee (Bergman) marries a simple Italian fisherman (Mario Vitale) she meets in a prisoner of war camp and accompanies him back to his isolated village on an island off the coast of Sicily. Cut off from the world, she finds herself crumbling emotionally, but she is destined for a dramatic epiphany. Balancing the director’s trademark neorealism—exemplified here in a remarkable depiction of the fishermen’s lives and work—with deeply felt melodrama, Stromboli is a revelation.

***

Italian neo-realist pioneer Roberto Rossellini made his first (and, as it turned out, last) Hollywood-backed film with Stromboli. Karin (Ingrid Bergman) is a war refugee from Lithuania who has been placed in an internment camp. Desperate to get out and with few options, she accepts a proposal of marriage from Antonio (Mario Vitale), a fisherman who lives on the island of Stromboli. However, Karin soon finds that life on the island is only a minor improvement over the prison camp; she's an outsider there and doesn't fit in with the locals. Karin's discomfort turns to terror when the island's volcano threatens to erupt. Stromboli became infamous in its time when word got out that Bergman was having an affair with Rossellini; Bergman would eventually leave her husband and marry Rossellini, but the scandal all but killed this film at the box office. Rossellini's battles with producer Howard Hughes hardly helped: while Rossellini's cut of the film was eventually released on tape in the United States, on initial release Hughes had Alfred Werker cut it from 117 minutes to 81 minutes and add a new ending.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

 

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

NOTE: Before the film runs: "The digital restoration of Stromboli, combines from a combined duplicate negative preserved by Cinecitta Digital factory. The image was scanned at 2K resolution and digitally cleaned to eliminate signs of wear such as spots, lines, scratches and visible splice marks. Image grading recovered the brightness and richness of the original cinematography. The soundtrack was digital cleaned to removed defects without losing the dynamics and character of the original version. The restoration was carried out by L'Immagine Retorovita of Bolgna in 2012."

 

Stromboli arrives on BFI Blu-ray in the Italian language version (Stromboli Terra di Dio) - in 1080P.  It is as clean and flat as the Criterion and a shade brighter than the US counterpart (In their 3 Films By Roberto Rossellini Blu-ray package). It looks excellent in-motion - grain is supported and detail advances as the film runs. There are some very light vertical scratches- barely visible.  This Blu-ray is imperfect but, like the Criterion - at the mercy of the source and what restoration could be done. I thought it was solid.

 

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

 

1) Criterion English Language version (Reviewed HERE) Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion Italian Language version (subtitle sample) (Reviewed HERE) Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) BFI - Italian Language version (subtitle sample) Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE)- TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE)- TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE)- TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Captures - BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

 

 

Audio : Transferred via a liner PCM 2.0 channel mono track at 2304 kbps in Italian. I'm afraid I was always aware of the awkwardness of the DUB issues and there are optional English subtitles - my Oppo has, predictably, identified it as being a region 'B' disc.

 

Extras :

BFI's Stromboli Blu-ray disc is shared with some impressive extras - Bergman & Magnani: The War of the Volcanoes is the hour-long 2012 documentary by Francesco Patierno charting the scandal of the Magnani-Rossellini-Bergman love triangle. Interesting. We also get the 37-minutes archival Guardian interview of Ingrid Bergman at the National Film Theatre directed by Chris Mohr in 1981. Poor quality but nice to hear her speak. Included is the excellent Tag Gallagher visual essay from 2012 (found on Criterion's 3 Films By Roberto Rossellini Blu-ray package) entitled Living & Departed. Absolutely magnificent.

 

NOTE: Tag informs us: "My vid, "Living & Departed," on Journey to Italy, is not the same as "Living and Departed" on Criterion. Clips from Europe '51 could not be used on the BFI, where, however, I strengthened my arguments apropos Journey to Italy."

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

(aka "Voyage in Italy" or "Voyage to Italy" or "Viaggio in Italia" or "Strangers" )

 

The Film (Journey to Italy):

Among the most influential films of the postwar era, Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia) charts the declining marriage of a couple from England (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) on a trip in the countryside near Naples. More than just the anatomy of a relationship, Rossellini’s masterpiece is a heartrending work of emotion and spirituality. Considered a predecessor to the existentialist works of Michelangelo Antonioni and hailed as a groundbreaking modernist work by the legendary film journal Cahiers du cinéma, Journey to Italy is a breathtaking cinematic benchmark.

***

Roberto Rossellini directs this drama starring his then-wife Ingrid Bergman as Katherine Joyce, a wealthy British woman who accompanies her husband, Alex (George Sanders), on a trip across the Italian countryside to close on an inherited villa in Naples. Far from their London home, the couple becomes frustrated with each other and seem to be headed for divorce. Katherine tells Alex about a lost lover who risked his life to see her, but it only leaves Alex even more indifferent to her. Planning to spend the rest of their vacation away from each other, Alex joins up with some other British guys on Capri to drink and flirt, while Katherine tours the natural attractions and museums of Naples and Pompeii. Viaggio in Italia was unsuccessful when it originally released to theatres; years later it was discovered by French critics and called a masterpiece in Cahiers du Cinema.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

 

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

Journey to Italy on Blu-ray from BFI both Italian and English versions sharing the dual-layered disc. The BFI looks different than its Criterion counterpart which can seem horizontally stretched beside the UK transfer. Richer, darker blacks levels are present on the BFI and I found them highly pleasing. No moiring although it may be close. Perhaps you also see this as an advancement with the superior contrast and impressive detail. Excellent and fairly consistent throughout with no noise and frequently awe-inspiring visuals. This is a monumental leap over the old, Chroma-filled, BFI DVD. The Italian language version is a notch less robust, but also looks strong. The film starts with this screen for both versions:

 

 

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

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) - MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) - MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) - MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) - MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) - MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) BFI - Region 2 - PAL DVD (Reviewed HERE- TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) - MIDDLE

3) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (Reviewed HERE) - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

Audio :

We repeat the linear PCM tracks (respectively) but sounding as clear as the image. It is authentically flat with clear, consistent, dialogue. No notable score or soundtrack except the singing and guitar in the opening credits sounding beautiful. Like all features in the boxset there are optional English (SDH) subtitles.

 

Extras :

BFI add two, previously heard commentaries; with filmmaker and academic Laura Mulvey from 2003 and another film scholar Adrian Martin recorded in 2007. Both are educational and excellent to revisit. Also included is Guy Maddin's, 2005, 18-minute short, My Dad is 100 Years Old described as Isabella Rossellini's playful tribute to her father.

 

 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

The Film (Fear aka "Non credo pił all'amore (La paura)"):

 

Irene Wagner, the wife of prominent scientist Albert Wagner, finds herself blackmailed about her affair by her lover's jealous ex-girlfriend. The plot, an experiment in causing fear, drives her into a rage.

***

The moments of the atypical are at odds with the extremely typical plot. There’s nothing unique about the situation Irene finds herself in; she, herself, calls it “the usual desperate situation.” I’m sure this story has been done in English, but it just has one of those plots that could easily translate to American audiences, probably why Fear is cited as the most accessible of Rossellini’s work. I might be stereotyping Rossellini as a director, since this is the first film of his I’ve seen, but I expected grander, philosophical themes within this movie. It might be due to past experience with foreign directors, but Fear is relatively contained and uninspiring. The few moments where the film does explore questions of ethics are minor. The best sequence involves Albert punishing the Wagner children, including the daughter who only admits the truth of her wrongdoing when she’s backed into a corner. The character of Albert turns out to be interesting in a way that Irene is not; I wonder if that’s because Albert is a stand-in for Rossellini? Albert is exiled not just from his home, but in his work – he spends all his time in his lab – leaving Irene to take care of everything. Even the household staff and Albert’s coworkers come to Irene with their problems, presenting the woman as carrying the weight of the domestic sphere on her shoulders. As the narrative chugs towards its conclusion, we see Albert become masochistic, every question becoming a test of Irene’s will.

Excerpt from JourenyeInFilm.org located HERE

 

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

NOTE- Prior to the film running: "The digital restoration was carried out using the best elements available today, a lavender print and a duplicate soundtrack which had been preserved together at Cinecitta Studios. The Image was scanned at 2K resolution. After scanning the images were stabilized and digitally cleaned to remove the marks of time: spots, lines, scratches and visible splice marks. Due to the Elements state of preservation many hours were spent on digitally cleaning the images. The new version has attempted to restore the richness and brightness of the original cinematography. After the film was acquired the sound was digitally cleaned and the background noise caused by use over time was reduced but the dynamic nature and particularities of the original sound were preserved. The restoration was carried out by Cineteca di Bologna at L'Immagine Retorovita laboratory in 2011."

 

Not overly dynamic but I was still impressed with the 1080P quality of Fear. The Blu-ray is improved over SD and I think the restoration work should be considered a success. Contrast supports the filmic-nature of the image and it runs well in-motion. Wonderful to be able to see this film looking so good.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Another linear PCM mono track at 1536 kbps in English (only 16 bit). The score is by Renzo Rossellini - the younger brother of the director notable for work in The War Trilogy films Rome, Open City (1945), Paisan (1946) as well as other films. It is quite clean but, like all, susceptible to the production and source. The restoration has, obviously, helped. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'B' Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras :

The Machine That Kills Bad People aka "La macchina ammazzacattivi" is a superb addition to the set. It is a Roberto Rossellini film from 1952, running 1:24:34 (in Italian with English subtitles). It is a fascinating film that reflects Rossellini's transition from neo-realism to the more poetic films he made with Bergman. Friom IMDb: "A demon bestows on a self-righteous working photographer's camera the power to smite from the Earth "evil-doers". Naturally, the indignant photographer turns his new weapon on, one by one, his entire village, beginning with the wealthy or illustrious. Soon, the poor he is so supposedly so enamored of become his victims too, so rife with impatience and contempt is he, that the slightest flaw is cause for smiting. Inevitably, he embarks on a task to destroy everyone." It is 1080P, restored (similar process to other films in this package), and with lossless, original Italian, audio and optional English subtitles.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
What a magnificent Blu-ray package from BFI. The superior transfer of Journey to Italy and the extras - commentaries, lesser-seen Fear and The Machine That Kills Bad People gives this essential value. We should note that inckluded in case is a Fully illustrated booklet featuring new writing by Tag Gallagher, Adriano Aprą, Laura Mulvey, Peter Bondanella and Paul Fairclough, and full film credits. This BFI Blu-ray has our highest recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

July 16th, 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.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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