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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Kiss of the Spider Woman [Blu-ray]


(Hector Babenco, 1985)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: HB Filmes

Video: Curzon / Artificial Eye



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

Runtime: 2:00:25.009 

Disc Size: 45,962,153,555 bytes

Feature Size: 32,205,821,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.94 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 25th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2170 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2170 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






Tangled Web: The Making of The Kiss of the Spider Woman (1:48:34)
Theatrical Trailer (2:38)
Manuel Puig - The Submissive Woman's Role (9:07)
Slideshow Commentary: Transition From Novel to Film (36:08)
Photo galleries (Costumes, Promotion, Film-Promotion Stills)





Description: Two cell mates in a South American prison are wildly different men. Luis is a trans individual who is found guilty of immoral behavior and Valentin is a political prisoner. To escape reality Luis invents romantic movies, while Valentin tries to keep his mind on the situation he's in. However, during the time they spend together, the two men come to understand and respect one another more than they ever knew they could.



The Film:

Political prisoner Valentin Arregui (Raul Julia) and homosexual pederast Luis Molina (William Hurt) share a Brazilian prison cell in this fantastical drama from the book by Manuel Puig. Sensitive and flamboyant, Molina helps pass the time by recounting memories from one of his favorite films, a wartime romantic thriller that just may also be a Nazi propaganda film. He weaves the characters into an ongoing narrative meant to spur Valentin's imagination and distract him from the brutal realities of political imprisonment and separation from the woman he loves. Hard around the edges, and willing to die for his political principles, Valentin nonetheless allows Molina to penetrate some of his defensive shell. An odd friendship forms between the two vastly different prisoners, the dreamer and the activist. As the narrative unfolds, it becomes clear that Valentin is being poisoned by his captors, to compel him to reveal names and secrets, and that Molina may have other agendas that belie his honesty and openness with Valentin. The intense character study builds toward a surprising conclusion. Kiss of the Spider Woman received Oscar nominations for best picture, best director and best adapted screenplay, and Hurt took home the best actor trophy for his portrayal of the soulful and conflicted Molina. The film was later adapted into a Broadway musical.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Flamboyant queen Molina (Hurt) and aggressive straight revolutionary Valentin (Julia) share a prison cell in an unnamed Latin American dictatorship. Molina, to Valentin's decreasing disgust, escapes the cell walls by recounting the camp French Resistance film of the title. The performances of Hurt and Julia win votes by the minute, Babenco directs their growing relationship with subtlety and depth, and the structure - mixing flashback, arch movie fantasy and powerful cell sequences - knocks the shit out of the gimmicks in Schrader's dubious Mishima. A film of fine balance and tone, not least in the dramatic turnaround ending.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE


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

Kiss of the Spider Woman gets a dual-layered transfer to Blu-ray from Curzon / Artificial Eye.  It has a high bitrate for the 2 hour feature. The film visuals diffuse when shifting to the 'storytelling/fantasy' sequences - which can tend to looks, intentionally, softer and tinted. The 1080P supports a thick, fairly flat, appearance with some occasional sharpness in well-lit close-ups. It can look a bit waxy/soft but I don't believe this is DNR or other manipulation. However, the image can be a bit inconsistent but it is reasonably clean with only very minor depth in the 1.85:1 frame. This Blu-ray could probably only improve if a different source was used. It seem AE have done an adept job with the print they had.



















Audio :

The AE Blu-ray of The Kiss of the Spider Woman offers a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 2170 kbps or the option of a linear PCM stereo at 1536 kbps. It has hints of separation it is mostly of a subtle nature with only a few more flamboyant, or aggressive, instances. I only noted infrequent separation. Brazilian composer John Neschling (JE ME MOQUE DE L'AMOUR as sung by Sonia Braga) and Nando Carneiro. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

There are plenty of, previously seen, extras including a lengthy documentary entitled Tangled Web: The Making of The Kiss of the Spider Woman directed by David Weisman in 2008. It runs over 1 3/4 hours and has comments from Hector Babenco, Sonia Braga, William Hurt and archival footage of Manuel Puig. There is also a 10-minute piece; Manuel Puig - The Submissive Woman's Role and an excellent, 36-minute, Slideshow Commentary: Transition From Novel to Film which really fills in some gaps about the novel and screen adaptation. NOTE: All three of those featurettes are found on the second disc of the 2-disc Collector's Edition DVD of 2008). Lastly, there is a theatrical trailer and photo galleries (Costumes, Promotion, Film-Promotion Stills).



Kiss of the Spider Woman is a
highly interesting film. It successfully muddles between fantasy and reality (conflicted Molina?) - forming less-obvious links - reflecting indirectly on both social and political issues. The performances are top-notch and the Curzon / Artificial Eye Blu-ray provides an acceptable 1080P presentation with valuable supplements. I wouldn't recommend double-dipping over the old 2-DVD set, but for those that have not seen it - this represents the best package available with the inclusion of the extensive supplements. 

Gary Tooze

January 20th, 2016


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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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
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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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