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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Reflecting Skin [Blu-ray]

 

(Philip Ridley, 1990)

 

A Soda Pictures standard-case Blu-ray non-Steelbook available in March 2016:

but there is a German Blu-ray via Starlight available (reportedly lesser quality):

   

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: BBC Films

Video: Soda Pictures

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:35:53.706

Disc Size: 45,259,565,616 bytes

Feature Size: 29,273,874,432 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November, 2015

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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

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

Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Audio commentary by Philip Ridley

Angels and Atom Bombs - all-new retrospective documentary covering the making of the film, including new and exclusive interviews with Philip Ridley and Viggo Mortensen (43:41)
Philip Ridley's short films Visiting Mr. Beak (1987 - 21:08 with 3:29 introduction by Ridley) and The Universe Of Dermot Finn (1988 - 11:16 with 2:01 introduction by Ridley), available on home video for the first time
Isolated score track
Stills and poster art galleries
Trailer (2:44)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Soda Pictures has acquired UK & Irish home video rights to Philip Ridley’s 1990 cult classic The Reflecting Skin, featuring Viggo Mortensen in one of his first starring roles and Scottish actress Lindsay Duncan.

The UK/Canada co-production, which has never been released on DVD or Blu-Ray in the UK before, will be released by the Anglo-Canadian distributor in a special edition later this year.

This release will be the worldwide video premiere of a new, director-approved high-definition transfer. Exclusive bonus material is currently in production, including newly-filmed interviews with Ridley and Mortensen.

Further details, including release dates, will be announced in the lead-up to the restoration’s UK premiere at Film4 Frightfest in August, which was announced yesterday.

The Reflecting Skin played at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival and went on to win 11 international awards.

Set in the Idaho farmlands of the 1950s, the film follows eight year-old Seth through a summer where reality is heightened to the level of a hallucinogenic quasi-fantasy.

As mysterious deaths plague the rural community, Seth comes to believe that the pale, reclusive widow living next door (Lindsay Duncan) is a vampire. Seth’s worst nightmare comes true when his older brother Cameron (Mortensen) returns home from abroad and falls in love with the widow.

Speaking about the remastered version, Ridley said: “Earlier this year I saw something I hadn’t seen for over 20 years. A beast so rare I thought it extinct. I saw The Reflecting Skin looking exactly as it was meant to look.


Somehow – by some miracle! – all the original elements have been found. Every frame has now been made a scratch-free zone. I sat in the grading room with some of the best technicians in the world and, scene-by-scene, shot-by-shot, guided them through how everything should look.


So here it is… the exploding frog, the shiniest of Cadillacs, the yellowest of wheat fields, the bluest of skies, the reddest of sunsets, the whole hall-of-mirrors, teeth ‘n’ claws ‘n’ roar caboodle… all looking and sounding exactly as they did when the world was still young.

 

 

The Film:

As mysterious deaths plague a small American prairie town, eight year-old Seth (Jeremy Cooper) comes to believe that the pale, reclusive widow living next door (Lindsay Duncan) is a vampire. Seth’s worst nightmare comes true when his older brother Cameron (Viggo Mortensen) returns home from abroad and falls in love with the widow – will he be next? The truth is much more shocking than Seth could imagine.

Written and directed by Philip Ridley (Heartless) and hauntingly photographed by Oscar-nominee Dick Pope (Mr Turner), the film caused a sensation at the 1990 Cannes Film Festival, went on to win eleven international awards, and has amassed an ever-growing cult following ever since.

Excerpt from Zavvi located HERE

Set in a 1950s-era American heartland of sprawling wheat fields and lonely old houses, The Reflecting Skin is British director Philip Ridley's fascinating and very strange investigation into the horrors of childhood innocence and fantasy. The film's mixture of gruesome subject matter, morbid sexual perversion, and disarming humor has spawned comparisons to the work of David Lynch, particularly Blue Velvet and the Twin Peaks series. Young Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper) lives with his mother and father in a ramshackle farmhouse that also serves as the local gas station. After reading one of his father's pulp horror magazines, Seth convinces himself that Dolphin Blue (Lindsay Duncan), the attractive widow who lives nearby, is a vampire. When Seth's friend Eben is found dead (and sexually abused) in the family cistern, Seth is sure that Dolphin is to blame. The authorities, however, point to Seth's father, whose secret homosexuality -- and past affair with a young boy -- is a skeleton in the town's closet. Seth's father refuses to have the affair dragged into public view, and so he burns himself alive at the family gas pump, prompting Seth's older brother Cameron (Viggo Mortensen) to return home from a military tour. Cameron falls for Dolphin, and at the same time he becomes weak and begins losing hair. Seth takes this as a sign that Cameron is being drained of vitality by Dolphin, although it is suggested that his sickness is in fact due to overseeing A-bomb tests while on a ship in the South Pacific. Meanwhile, a roving gang prowls the country roads in a sleek, black Cadillac, and more children are found dead. It is not surprising that writer/director Philip Ridley has also published books for children, since watching The Reflecting Skin is a lot like reading a young adult novel, albeit a horrific one. Presented from a child's strangely warped point-of-view, this film should be appreciated by anyone looking for films far outside the mainstream.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

 

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

The Reflecting Skin gets an 1080P transfer to Blu-ray from Soda Pictures in the UK.  It is solidly in dual-layered territory and has a max'ed bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. Dick Pope's (Topsy-Turvy, Naked, Secrets & Lies, The Illusionist) cinematography is exceptional. The visuals look a shade waxy but it doesn't' reflect digitization, IMO - but the softer look rather represents an intentional appearance. There may be a touch of, non-distracting, high-frequency edge-enhancement. The texture in minimal, fine and consistent. It is described as a "new 2K scan restored in a high-definition transfer from original elements" and is also director-approved.  Colors are beautiful - appearing painterly - and it looks very impressive in-motion. As we have heard poor reports about the German HD (and previous DVDs) this Blu-ray is certainly appears to be the best presentation for your home theater viewing.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Soda use a linear PCM 2.0 channel at 1536 kbps (16-bit) and it sounds fine - occasionally impressive. There are a few effects and a scream or two exporting a bit of base. The score is by Nick Bicāt (many TV series and TV movies to his credit.) Dialogue is clean, consistent and audible. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

There is an intelligent audio commentary by writer/director Philip Ridley providing first-hand knowledge of the production details. And he shares liberally with the video supplements in this Blu-ray package. There is a 45-minute, all-new retrospective documentary entitled Angels and Atom Bombs - covering the making of the film, including new and exclusive interviews with Philip Ridley and Viggo Mortensen. We also get two short films by Ridley; Visiting Mr. Beak (1987 - 21:08 with 3:29 introduction by Ridley) and The Universe Of Dermot Finn (1988 - 11:16 with 2:01 introduction by Ridley). An isolated score track is accessible and there are galleries for stills and poster art - plus a trailer.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Reflecting Skin is an unusual and appealing film. It can be visually stunning and always keeps you guessing. Curious-er and curious-er. It's an odd, uncomfortable horror - and is definitely a film I will revisit. I liked it's misdirection and empty alleys - a lot.  The Soda Pictures LE Blu-ray provides a new a/v presentation with many supplements. This is a perfect example of a film, loaded with jaw-dropping visuals, that should be seen in the higher resolution. 

Gary Tooze

November 5th, 2015

A Soda Pictures standard-case Blu-ray non-Steelbook available in March 2016:

but there is a German Blu-ray via Starlight available (reportedly lesser quality):

   


 

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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