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The Circus [Blu-ray]
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Charles Chaplin Productions
Video: Artificial Eye
Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,956,878,325 bytes
Feature Size: 19,027,494,912 bytes
Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 10th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1858 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1858 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
•Chaplin Today - The Circus (26:31)
• Introduction by David Robinson (5:09)
• Trailers for the film (5:21)
• Extracts from the films in The Chaplin Collection (10:44)
• Rushes from The Circus (27:45)
• Outtakes (9:49)
Description: When we first meet Chaplin's Tramp in this comic gem, he's broke and hungry. Mistaken for a pickpocket and pursued by a police officer into a circus tent, the Tramp becomes a star when delighted patrons think his escape from the law is an act. Highlights include a frenetic fun-house seqeunce, the Tramp turning a magical skit into mayhem and his teetering tighrope walk while monkeys cling to his head.
The Circus is generally considered to be a lesser Charlie Chaplin effort, coming as it does between two unquestioned masterpieces, The Gold Rush (1925) and City Lights (1931). To be sure, the film is not one of Chaplin's best, but it has a lot going for it. Director Chaplin casts star Chaplin in his traditional "Little Tramp" role, who when first we see him is on the lam from the law. He takes refuge under the tent of a failing circus. Unintentionally, Charlie disrupts the show's big clown act, and the crowd roars. The ringmaster decides to hire Charlie as a clown, building the whole circus around him. Charlie has many an adventure and close shave while performing under the Big Top, the best of which involves a tightrope, a broken support wire, and a playful monkey. The standard Chaplin pathos rears its head when Charlie falls in love with pretty tightrope walker Merna Kennedy. When sweet Merna chooses handsome Harry Crocker, Charlie is left alone once more--but, with a characteristic shrug, he shuffles into the horizon and onto his next adventure. The Circus has several gaping logic holes which tend to pull the film down (we're supposed to believe, for example, that Charlie is unaware that he's a sensation as a clown, even after several weeks of performing before appreciative audiences), but the film contains several excellent setpieces, including a Hall of Mirrors sequence which anticipates Orson Welles' more serious Lady From Shanghai climax by twenty years. The Circus won Chaplin a special Oscar in 1928, then lay unseen for forty-two years; it was reissued in 1970, with a new musical score by Chaplin himself (who can be heard singing the theme song in the opening scenes).Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Placing screen clowns within congenial environments (as with The Marx Brothers at the Circus) is one of the best ways to produce a bummer, but Chaplin manages to work a miracle, exploiting the various circus activities to richly comic effect. Charlie is chased through a hall of mirrors and trapped in a lion's cage the climax comes when he battles along a tightrope hampered by falling trousers and a clinging monkey. The set pieces are linked, none too neatly, by a framing story of disappointed love.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Circus gets a new transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye. It's single-layered and has a strong bitrate for the 1 1/4 hour feature. Unfortunately, it has a bit of the similar waxy look that we saw in The Kid Blu-ray but not as egregious. The 1080P is inconsistent with some stellar scenes that even showcase depth and some others that look, briefly, manipulated. Overall, I would say the experience was a positive one although the heightened contrast is noticeable but not particularly offensive. I enjoyed my viewing and the irregularities were not detrimental to my viewing experience. I should state this was leaps and bounds ahead of an SD presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
AE give the option of a new 5.1 surround track via a DTS-HD Master and it sounds quite interesting if not dynamic enough to support crisp separations. We also get the choice of alinear PCM at a notable 1536 kbps and the score sounds very impressive - even at 16-bit. The Intertitles are in English and no need for subtitles. The Blu-ray disc is region 'B'-locked.
AE include another, French made, 26-minute Chaplin Today,” from 2003, originally on the 2-disc DVD sets, specifically focusing on The Circus - an educational documentary by François Ede with input from director Emir Kusturica, another interesting introduction by David Robinson (running 5 minutes) and some 'rushes' and 'outtakes' from The Circus. There are also some extracts from the Films in The Chaplin Collection and 5-minutes worth of international Trailers for The Circus.
September 23rd, 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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