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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Undesirable aka "A tolonc" [Blu-ray]

 

(Michael Curtiz - as Kertész Mihály, 1915)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:05:59.041

Disc Size: 18,277,553,661 bytes

Feature Size: 18,192,390,144 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.37 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 19th, 2016

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3534 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3534 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: The Undesirable, a silent film treasure thought to be lost forever, was recently discovered in the basement of the Hungarian House cultural center in New York and returned to Hungary for restoration. An eight-month restoration and digitization process was completed by the Hungarian Filmlab, with support from the Hungarian National Digital Archive and Film Institute and the Hungarian National Film Fun, and funded by the Hungarian National Film Foundation. Noted Hollywood producer Andrew Vajna (Terminator, Rambo, Nixon, Angel Heart) played a major role in overseeing the restoration process. The Undesirable features a newly commissioned score by Attila Pacsay (the renowned composer of cinematic pieces including the Academy Award nominated short The Maestro) performed by the Pannonia Symphony Orchestra, and conducted by Peter Illenyi.

Betty (Lili Berky, Duel For Nothing), a young woman living in the country, is told by her dying father that he is really her uncle and raised her as his own when her mother was sent to prison for killing her husband. Alone and not knowing her mother’s fate, Betty travels to the city in search of work. There she finds employment as a maid in the house of a wealthy couple and their dashing son, Nick (Victor Varconi, For Whom The Bell Tolls), with whom she falls in love. When Betty is fired from her position after being unjustly accused of theft and escorted from the village, an ironic twist of fate propels the story forward with the sudden appearance of her mother Sarah (Mari Jászai, Bánk Bán) – presumed dead but recently released from prison – on a quest of her own to find her daughter
.

 

 

The Film:

The history of film in Hungary is almost as long as the history of film itself. This is a nation that prides itself on its record of technical innovations and challenging narrative techniques. The country’s rich cinematic past will twine with its technology-savvy present when the reels of Michael Curtiz’s A Tolonc (The Undesirable) arrives at Budapest’s National Digital Archive and Film Institute, where it will be restored and digitally re-mastered.

The Undesirable is one of the many lost films of Hungary’s golden age of silent film, and represents one of the first directorial efforts from Michael Curtiz, who went on to achieve international fame as the director of such films as Casablanca, Mildred Pierce, and The Jazz Singer. His hundred-year-old silent film was discovered in the basement of the Hungarian House, a cultural center in New York City. How it got there is still unknown, but great efforts have been made to return the film to its homeland. The undertaking of returning and restoring the film, at the cost of close to 50,000 Euro, will be funded by the Hungarian National Film Foundation...

Excerpt from the PPM Hungary Blog article The Return of the Undesirable: A Hungarian Classic Found located HERE

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

The Undesirable arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films. This is only single-layered as the film is just over an hour and there are no supplements sharing the disc. It looks very impressive - clean, some contrast inconsistency issues (some, infrequent, edge-enhancement, very marginally waxy) but generally I thought the video presentation was excellent. Rounded corners show and there is some bold tinting (see samples below.) It's extremely watchable in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio looking almost new. The 1080P Blu-ray offers a surprisingly strong video presentation (I didn't know what I was expecting, but not looking this dynamic!). Even with such a rich image - the 'apparition' sequences (two examples below) are visible and effective. Thumbs up!

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Olive augment the audio by using a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a whopping 3534 kbps (24-bit). It seems like overfill but the newly commissioned score by Attila Pacsay (the renowned composer of cinematic pieces including the Academy Award nominated short The Maestro) and performed by the Pannonia Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Illenyi - sounds tremendous. Very rich, deep and supporting the film's extravagant emotions. There are no subtitles as the Intertitles are in English (looking quite authentic - see sample above) and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

No supplements - a true bare-bones release. It's a shame that there wasn't some form of discussion - the film's discovery certainly warrants it.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This is such a cool find. The Undesirable is historically important and the
Blu-ray presentation is impressive. It's a charming and highly relevant Silent Era effort - one of the earliest films (over 100 years old!) I can think of that has reached 1080P. I was quite keen on this and film students, fans of Silent, will be the most encouraged to own Olive's Blu-ray. With the lights out - I was mesmerized and look forward to repeating the experience again. 

Gary Tooze

January 15th, 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.

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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