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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Isadora [Blu-ray]

 

(Karel Reisz, 1968)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Hakim

Video: Odeon Entertainment

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:19:35.541

Disc Size: 24,107,875,808 bytes

Feature Size: 21,124,104,192 bytes

Video Bitrate: 17.49 Mbps

Chapters: 11

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 18th, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080P / 24 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• Melvyn Bragg and James Fox on Isadora (12:03)

Film footage of Isadora performing (:27)
Aquarius: Isadora Duncan (10:23)
 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Isadora Duncan was the most iconic free-style dancer of the twentieth century who courted both admiration and scandal in equal measure. Her unique style of dancing made her the guests of King's, Queen's, nobility and Russian revolutionaries, ultimately making her the `peoples` dancer`. But her Bohemian lifestyle and unorthodox morality led to a personal life that was marred by misunderstanding, tragedy and ultimately her own untimely death. Available for the first time with an enormous selection of extras, this Oscar and BAFTA nominated film stars Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave in a stunning portrayal of Isadora Duncan. Adapted for the screen by Melvyn Bragg, Isadora burns her parents` marriage license as a little girl and pledges her life to `Beauty and Art`. Whilst her genius for dance and free spirit causes a sensation across Europe, her na´ve, effervescent radiance leads to an almost accidental succession of lovers in Paris Singer (Jason Robards), Gordon Craig (James Fox) and Sergel Essenin (Ivan Tchenko). As she sips champagne and dictates her memoirs at the Negresco Hotel in Nice, Isadora reflects upon a life and art that were anything but conventional…

 

 

The Film:

Many hands dabbled in the script - Clive Exton, Melvyn Bragg, Margaret Drabble - which is perhaps why this lavish biopic is rather impersonal, lacking a consistent viewpoint. Isadora Duncan, like Lawrence of Arabia, is an enigma; and whereas David Lean and Robert Bolt found only an enigma and sought to perpetuate it, Reisz seeks to unravel and explain this bizarre, scandalising appendage to the '20s. In some ways it's like a Ken Russell movie at 33 rpm, discovering the ageing Isadora dictating her memoirs and flashing back to her affairs in Berlin (Fox) and France, where she marries Mr Singer (Robards) of sewing-machine fame, then her second marriage to a Russian poet, her rejection and disillusion, and her final ride in a red Bugatti with scarf flying. The source of the scandal, her uninhibited sexuality and her Classical Greek dancing at the height of the Jazz Age, gives the film a semblance of unity, something to hang on to, and a visual beauty. And there is also Vanessa Redgrave, giving a quite superb performance in which the mannerisms are Isadora's, not hers.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

It is Miss Redgrave's funny, complex, grandly romantic evocation of the late Isadora Duncan, the high priestess of modern dance, a lady who never wrote of her Art without capitalizing it and who may have been—even with all her lovers, vanities and her muddled philosophy—this century's most innocent, most implacable, most successful American revolutionary.

The performance is contained in, and almost completely defines, the romantic, ill-fated, 128-minute movie, now called "The Loves of Isadora," which opened yesterday at the Sutton and Orleans Theaters.

An almost three-hour version of the movie, then titled simply "Isadora," was rushed into a Los Angeles theater last December to qualify for Academy nomination. No movie thus rushed into an exclusive Los Angeles engagement has ever carried off a major Oscar, but that apparently didn't bother the producers. They opened the picture anyway, received a bad review from the major Los Angeles daily, and subsequently cut the picture—so I'm told—twice.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

 

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

Isadora gets a 1080P transfer to Blu-ray from Odeon Entertainment in the UK. It is single-layered with a lowish bitrate for the 2 1/4 hour feature. It looks reasonable although not spanning the heights of the new format. This is probably the source though - which isn't poor - maybe a shade faded - and no damage and only a scant few speckles.  and the 1.78:1 aspect ratio has been bastardized to 1.78. It has some inconsistency in the beginning, appearing weaker, but smoothes-out and remains fairly flat throughout although colors (reds) are bright and appealing. Generally the visuals are reasonably watchable with some decent detail and contrast - but nothing dynamic.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio comes in a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps. There are few effects and it's really all about the music. The score is by Maurice Jarre (The Night of the Generals, The Tin Drum, The Man Who Would Be King, The Damned etc.) augmented by Beethoven's Symphonie No. 7, Brahms 1st Symphony, Tchaikovsky and Schubert. It all sounds quite pleasing via the uncompressed.  There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.

 

Extras :

Odeon include some supplements - we get Melvyn Bragg and James Fox discussing Isadora individually for about a dozen minutes, some very brief film footage of Isadora performing and a piece; Aquarius: Isadora Duncan - looking at her life for about 10-minutes.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Isadora is a very intelligent and wonderfully performed bio-pic. It has so many positives making it a film very much worth seeing. The Odeon Entertainment Blu-ray gives us the film in a competent 1080P with a few worthwhile supplements attempts. If you can get this at the right price I strongly suggest picking it up - magnificent film, performances and music! Recommended!  

Gary Tooze

October 2nd, 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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