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|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(Christian Petzold, 2014)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Schramm Film Koerner & Weber
Video: Criterion Collection Spine #809
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 46,616,811,509 bytes
Feature Size: 29,578,518,528 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.63 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: April 26th, 2016
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio German 3393 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3393 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
• New conversation between director Christian Petzold and actor Nina Hoss (25:50)
• New interview with cinematographer Hans Fromm (12:57)
• The Making of “Phoenix,” a 2014 documentary featuring interviews with Petzold, Hoss, actors Nina Kunzendorf and Ronald Zehrfeld, and production designer K. D. Gruber (20:56)
• Trailer (2:00)
• PLUS: An essay by critic Michael Koresky
Description: This evocative and haunting drama, set in rubble-strewn Berlin in 1945, is like no other film about post–World War II Jewish-German identity. After surviving Auschwitz, a former cabaret singer (Nina Hoss, in a dazzling, multilayered performance) has her disfigured face reconstructed and returns to her war-ravaged hometown to seek out her gentile husband, who may or may not have betrayed her to the Nazis. Without recognizing her, he enlists her to play his wife in a bizarre hall-of-shattered-mirrors story that is as richly metaphorical as it is preposterously engrossing. Revenge film or tale of romantic reconciliation? One doesn’t know until the superb closing scene of this marvel from Christian Petzold, one of the most important figure in contemporary German cinema.
"Phoenix" is an intoxicating
witches' brew, equal parts melodrama and moral parable, that audaciously
mixes diverse elements to compelling, disturbing effect.
In Christian Petzold’s new film, Phoenix is the name of a Berlin
nightclub where Nelly Lenz goes searching for her husband, a piano
player she calls Johnny. World War II has just ended, which suggests
that “Phoenix,” the title of this compact, haunting thriller, might have
other, larger, metaphorical meanings as well. In a few years, Germany
will ascend from the ruin of military defeat into an era of political
stability and economic growth. Nelly, a Jewish singer who survived the
Nazi death camps, is undergoing her own tentative rebirth — her face has
been reconstructed after it was damaged by a gunshot wound — and her
friend Lene (Nina Kunzendorf) encourages her to prepare for a new life
in Tel Aviv.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
DVDBeaver are very high on Christian Petzold (Barbara, The State I Am In, Gespenster, Yella, Jerichow) and were thrilled that Criterion chose to release Phoenix on Blu-ray. It is cited as a "New 2K digital transfer" an it looks as pristine as you might have imagined a new film should that is transferred to a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. We can only suspect it is an extremely strong representation of its theatrical appearance. It has a nice thick, heavy appearance with a touch of teal-leaning. It is not crisp or glossy. Merlin Ortner's meticulous art direction adds to the film's period visuals. The 1080P presentation exports some occasional depth, excellent contrast, but the major video attributes of the Blu-ray involve duplicating the heavy film-like appearance.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Criterion use a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at 3393 kbps (24-bit) in the original German language - that actually sounds very effective in exporting the film's dark moods. Effects are not dynamic but there are hints at separation and the score by frequent Petzold collaborator, Stefan Will (Barbara, The State I Am In, Gespenster, Yella, Jerichow) further augments the film's aura and deliberate pacing. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.
Criterion add many new extras - we get a 26-minute conversation between director Christian Petzold and actor Nina Hoss who have worked together on six films since 2001. In this video piece, recorded by Criterion in Berlin in 2016, the two delve into their working process, the evolution of their collaboration, and the themes of their films together. There is also a new, 13-minute, interview with cinematographer Hans Fromm who comments on the lush noir look of Phoenix, and how his relationship with director Petzold has evolved over the course of two decades of collaboration. The Making of “Phoenix,” is a 2014 documentary featuring interviews with Petzold, Hoss, actors Nina Kunzendorf and Ronald Zehrfeld, and production designer K. D. Gruber. It runs 21-minutes. Lastly is a trailer and the package has a liner notes booklet that contains an essay by critic Michael Koresky.
March 28th, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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