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What? aka "Che?" aka "Diary of Forbidden Dreams" [Blu-ray]
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Compagnia Cinematografica Champion
Video: Severin Films
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 24,660,632,149 bytes
Feature Size: 21,006,034,944 bytes
Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps
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 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.
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.
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.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
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.
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).
April 21st, 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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