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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Bitter Rice")

directed by Giuseppe De Santis
Italy 1949

During planting season in Northern Italy’s Po Valley, an earthy rice-field worker (Silvana Mangano) falls in with a small-time criminal (Vittorio Gassman) who is planning a daring heist of the crop, as well as his femme-fatale-ish girlfriend, played by the Hollywood star Doris Dowling. Both a socially conscious look at the hardships endured by underpaid field workers and a melodrama tinged with sex and violence, this early smash for producer extraordinaire Dino De Laurentiis and director Giuseppe De Santis is neorealism with a heaping dose of pulp.

***

Originally released as Riso Amaro, Bitter Rice was one of the landmark films of the postwar Italian neorealist movement. Silvana Mangano portrays one of hundreds of women toiling slavishly in the Po Valley rice fields. She is courted by two men: respectable Raf Vallone and no-good fugitive from justice Vittorio Gassman. Mangano chooses Gassman, a decision which brings disaster not only to her but to her co-workers. The rice-field scenes are realistic enough to pass muster as documentary footage, though they tend to be undercut in the English-language version by the amateurish dubbing. Critics were unanimous in their praise for Bitter Rice; their words were, however, ignored by the male fans who came to see the film solely on the strength of the now-famous production still of the buxom Silvana Mangano standing in the rice field wearing tight shorts and torn black stockings.

Excerpt from B+N located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 18th, 1949 (Cannes Film Festival)

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Comparison:

Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

  

Distribution

Cristaldi Film

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Spine #792 - Region 'A' Blu-ray
Runtime 1:44:12 (4% PAL speedup) 1:49:09.251 
Video

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.62 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,539,126,646 bytes

Feature: 32,001,294,336 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Cristaldi Film

 

Bitrate:

 

Criterion Blu-ray

 

Audio Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0), Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0)

LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit

Subtitles Italian, English, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Cristaldi Film

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Crew Interviews
• Documentary
• Gallery

DVD Release Date: September 24th, 2007
Keep case

Chapters 26
 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
1.33:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,539,126,646 bytes

Feature: 32,001,294,336 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.98 Mbps

Edition Details:

• Giuseppe De Santis, a 2008 documentary by screenwriter Carlo Lizzani (52:33)
• Interview with Lizzani from 2002 (6:38)
• Trailer (3;23)
• PLUS: An essay by critic Pasquale Iannone

Blu-ray Release Date: January 12th, 2016
Transparent Keep case

Chapter: 23

 

 

 

Comments

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray January 16': I recall that I enjoyed the Italian DVD transfer - many years ago - but even back then seeing the edge-enhancement. It's brittle, boosted and - compared to Criterion's new Blu-ray - is marginally cropped. The 1080P is diffused and contrast a bit muted but it still a gigantic improvement over the old SD. The Criterion is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate and probably as good as the film will ever look for home theater consumption.

Criterion utilize a linear PCM mono track in the original Italian (24-bit). It is predictably flat with a weaker-than-usual high-end - most likely a factor of the production or source. The score is by Goffredo Petrassi - who only composed for 6 films - including Giuseppe De Santis' Under the Olive Tree. It sounds typical of the era - supportive, fairly unremarkable but another advancement on the SD. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

Criterion include a 2008 documentary by screenwriter Carlo Lizzani on Giuseppe De Santis running 53-minutes in Italian with English subtitles. Lizzani was the primary screenwriter of Bitter Rice and a frequent collaborator of De Santis - the discussion covers the career of the director, especially his groundbreaking work in the early days of Italian neorealism. There is also a 6.5 minute interview with Lizzani from 2002 where he discusses the process of writing the script and working with Giuseppe De Santis. Both pieces are very educational. There is also a trailer and the package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Pasquale Iannone.

AI have always been fascinated with this genre and in particular this film always struck me as daring, subversive for its time - and honest and about a locale (Italian rice fields) that I don't ever recall covered before. Criterion's lower-tier pricing should make this a very appealing purchase - certainly you may not ever get to see the film in another venue. The Criterion Blu-ray is one worthy of any Cinephile's digital library. Recommended!

 -Gary Tooze


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1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Cristaldi Film - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) Criterion Collection - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Box Covers

 

  

Distribution

Cristaldi Film

Region 2 - PAL

Criterion Collection - Spine #792 - Region 'A' Blu-ray

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...