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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

What? aka "Che?" aka "Diary of Forbidden Dreams" [Blu-ray]


(, 1972)



German Blu-ray available:


Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Compagnia Cinematografica Champion

Video: Severin Films



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

Runtime: 1:53:38.978

Disc Size: 24,660,632,149 bytes

Feature Size: 21,006,034,944 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps

Chapters: 19

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: April 26th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



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





Featurette: Sydne In Wonderland - Interview With Star Sydne Rome (16:44)
Featurette: Memories Of A Young Pianist - Interview With Composer Claudio Gizzi (21:49)
Featurette: A Surreal Pop Movie - Interview With Cinematographer Marcello Gatti (16:04)
Theatrical Trailer (1:55)
Soundtrack (Italian)






Description: Roman Polanski described it as the ribald adventures of an innocent girl. More than four decades after its controversial release, it remains the most butchered, debated and least-seen film of the Oscar-winning director's entire career. The succulent Sydne Rome stars as an oft-naked American girl lost inside a Mediterranean villa inhabited by priests, pianists, perverts and a pimp (a deliciously bizarre performance by Marcello Mastroianni) while indulging in madcap acts that even include ping-pong. Hugh Griffith (Tom Jones), Romolo Valli (Boccaccio 70) and Polanski himself co-star in this surreal and sexy comedy, now finally restored to its original running time from a vault print reportedly stolen from the wine cellar of producer Carlo Ponti!



The Film:

The girl, played by a new actress whose name is improbably spelled Sydne (conventionally pronounced "Sidney") Rome, has hair that looks like an elaborate taffy dessert. She also has a terrible time keeping her clothe on, try as she will. When they aren't torn off in usually friendly struggles, they are stolen while she sleeps. Sometimes she's reduced to wearing a dinner napkin. Sometimes she just gives up and wears nothing, but she is never daunted. Nobody in the villa notices.

In addition to a body that invites constant assaults like Everest, the girl possesses the kind of optimistic American purpose that pioneered the West, invented the light bulb and developed frozen food. She is as curious unflappable and self-assured as a favored child and, as she is ravaged by the world so does she ravage it. When she finally departs the villa at least one of its inhabitants has expired in the sheer joy of contemplating her.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE


The movie's original title was "What?" That is reportedly what Carlo Ponti said (in Italian, no doubt, and appropriately embellished) after Polanski showed it to him. In its original version, it looked like the work of a madman, of a crazed cinematic genius off the deep end. Ponti, in desperation, had all of Polanski's outtakes printed up (outtakes are versions of a shot that the director decides not to use.) With the aid of skilled editors, Ponti attempted to substitute various outtakes in an attempt to construct a film that resembled, well, a film.

No luck. When Polanski makes a bad movie, he does it with a certain thoroughness. Even the shots he didn't use were bad.

And so here we have it, Roman Polanski's "Diary of Forbidden Dreams." It concerns (I think) the adventures of the young and shapely Miss Rome, a hitchhiker who stumbles upon a bizarre country villa that also functions as a private hospital..

Excerpt from Roger Ebert located HERE


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

What? comes to Blu-ray from Severin Films although there is a German BD release available HERE.  The US edition is single-layered with a low-ish bitrate. It is clean and colors are bright with many outdoors scenes. I can see occasional depth and I thought the presentation was consistent from a healthy source. Visually the film has some appeal but while no demo - it looks better than I would have anticipated via the 1080P rendering. It is slightly picture-boxed (black bars at side edges) remaining in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. I would say it looks pretty decent overall. 




















Audio :

The film is presented via a linear PCM 2.0 channel track at 1536 kbps (16-bit) in English with an option to hear the Italian (same encode) but there are no subtitles (?!). It is clear and as imperfect as produced originally I suspect. The, occasionally awkward, score is by Claudio Gizzi (Blood for Dracula, Flesh for Frankenstein) and has no major flaws in the lossless. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE.


Extras :

There are almost an hour's worth of 2008-2009 featurettes including Sydne In Wonderland - which spends 1/4 hour with star Sydne Rome - it's kind of fun. We also have interviews with composer Claudio Gizzi for over 20-minutes entitled Memories Of A Young Pianist. lastly is a 16-minute discussion with cinematographer Marcello Gatti called A Surreal Pop Movie. There is a theatrical trailer and the ability to watch the film with the Italian soundtrack (but no subtitles).



What? is pretty goofy. I don't think it achieves the care-free, amusing expression Polanski was hoping to embody.  And it's pretty hard to focus an entire film with the backdrop of Sydne Rome's prancing nudity - although I don't have a problem with that aspect of the film. This Blu-ray package is decent enough with some viable supplements but it's not a film I would strongly endorse but fans of the director may wish to give it a spin. To each his own.

Gary Tooze

April 21st, 2016


German Blu-ray available:


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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Gary W. Tooze






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