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(aka 'The Girlfriends')

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/antonioni.htm
USA 19
55

A key film of Antonioni's middle-period, Le amiche [The Girlfriends] finds the Italian master expanding his palette in the realm of traditional narrative cinema by way of his powerhouse direction of an ensemble cast, while entrenching his devotion to expressing the emotional makeup of the modern woman. Clelia (Eleonora Rossi-Drago) embarks from Rome to set up a fashion-salon in Torino. Shortly after arrival, she finds herself caught up in the (melo)dramas of a bourgeoise circle of acquaintances (including the iconic Valentina Cortese), and their attendant attempts at suicide, their class prejudices, and the romantic alliances that threaten to transform the social clique into an emotional tar-pit. Le amiche represents the epitome of Antonioni's '50s period, and although it lays the groundwork for such '60s breakthroughs as L'avventura and La notte, it proves itself no less brilliant.

***

This major early achievement by Michelangelo Antonioni bears the first signs of the cinema-changing style for which he would soon be world-famous. Le amiche (The Girlfriends) is a brilliantly observed, fragmentary depiction of modern bourgeois life, conveyed from the perspective of five Turinese women. As four of the friends try to make sense of the suicide attempt of the fifth, they find themselves examining their own troubled romantic lives. With suggestions of the theme of modern alienation and the fastidious visual abstraction that would define his later masterpieces such as L’avventura, L’eclisse, and Red Desert, Antonioni’s film is a devastating take on doomed love and fraught friendship.

***

Synopsis
Roman couturier Clelia (Eleonora Rossi-Drago) leaves the big city to work at a boutique in Turin. She moves into a hotel and makes several new friends, but is soon drawn into their extremely unpleasant lives. Clelia enters a doomed relationship with a poor architect's assistant (Ettore Manni), sees her new best friend Rosetta (Madeleine Fischer) commit suicide after being jilted by her married lover (Gabriele Ferzetti), and is eventually fired from her new job when her hysteria over Rosetta's death interferes with her work. Clelia finally goes back to Rome, and viewers will not blame her a bit. Le Amiche, based on a 1949 article published in La Bella Estate (Tre Donne Sole by Cesare Pavese), is perhaps Michelangelo Antonioni's first great film. Juggling 10 characters with great aplomb, Antonioni and co-screenwriters Suso Cecchi D'Amico and Alba De Cespedes have created a rich, interlocking narrative which manages to rise above mere melodrama through careful attention to the ebb and flow of interpersonal relationships and a keen sense of balance. The fine supporting cast includes Valentina Cortese, Yvonne Furneaux, and Franco Fabrizi.

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Theatrical Release: September 7th, 1955 - Italy

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Comparison:

Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Cover

  

Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Masters of Cinema - Spine #18 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Criterion Collection - Spine #817 - Region 'A' Blu-ray
Runtime 1:38:54 1:45:51.041 1:46:02.022
Video 1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.45 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 24,460,421,007 bytes

Feature Size: 21,520,619,520 bytes

Average Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Disc Size: 44,004,261,386 bytes

Feature Size: 31,083,792,384 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: MoC Blu-ray

Bitrate: Criterion Blu-ray

Audio Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)  DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 741 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 741 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit) LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none

DVD Release Date: August 7th, 2001

Snapper Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: Masters of Cinema

Disc Size: 24,460,421,007 bytes

Feature Size: 21,520,619,520 bytes

Average Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Edition Details:

• A new and exclusive video introduction to the film with critic and teacher Gabe Klinger (8:22 in 1080P)
• A new and exclusive video featuring Gabe Klinger discussing the arc of Antonioni’s entire career (10:35 in 1080P)
• 28-page booklet containing newly translated vintage critical pieces about the film, excerpts of interviews with Antonioni, and a 1956 letter written by Antonioni to Italo Calvino

• Second disc DVD of the Film

Blu-ray Release Date: March 21st, 2011
Transparent
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:

Disc Size: 44,004,261,386 bytes

Feature Size: 31,083,792,384 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

Edition Details:

• New conversation with scholars David Forgacs and Karen Pinkus on the film’s themes (27:03)
• New interview with scholar Eugenia Paulicelli on the importance of fashion in Antonioni’s work (22:25)
• New English subtitle translation
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Tony Pipolo

Blu-ray Release Date: June 7th, 2016
Transparent Keep case

Chapter: 20

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray May 16': The Criterion is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate and has the superior transfer with the resulting visuals showing better contrast, richer black levels and a more stable image. It looks excellent in-motion and the darker image quality is more appealing bringing out detail to a higher degree.

Audio also advances a small notice with a linear PCM mono track, in original Italian, but in 24-bit. The Criterion also offers optional English subtitles but is region 'A'-locked.

Criterion include some good supplements; a new, 27-minute, conversation with scholars David Forgacs and Karen Pinkus on the film’s themes, visuals style, and adaptation from Cesare Pavese's novella Tra donne sole. There is also a 23-minute new interview with scholar Eugenia Paulicelli on the significance of fashion in Antonioni’s work. The package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by film scholar Tony Pipolo.

Both Blu-rays are strong but Criterion nudge ahead with the superior a/v and add some worthy extras. Antonioni fans should feel very fortunate. A very strong recommendation!

***

ADDITION: Masters of Cinema Region 'B' Blu-ray: February 2011: The Masters of Cinema transfer of the film for their dual-format package is from its recent restoration by Cineteca di Bologna, L'Immagine Ritrovata, and Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation. It looks excellent - extremely clean and tight - much brighter than the 2001 Image Entertainment DVD that had the film as overly dark removing many details in the frame - this was especially notable on the train sequence. Scratches and noise artifacts present on the US SD transfer are gone - as is its comparative softness. This 1080P Blu-ray supplied me with a solid, consistent and vastly improved presentation - it is the best, by a wide margin, that I have ever seen Le Amiche. Because of this, I felt, that I appreciated the film on a new level - as frequently happens with this higher resolution. Surprisingly, on the Blu-ray there is often slightly less information in the frame - which may have been a product of the restoration. I'm unsure. Bottom line is that this looks better than I was anticipating - lighter in contrast -  but I still feel this is more appropriate to the original appearance as much more is visible in the backgrounds. I'm very satisfied with the visual representation.

Audio is 2.0 channel in a less-dynamic DTS-Master that lends more consistency and crispness to the dialogue than on the older Image Entertainment DVD. The Masters of Cinema subtitle translation is thorough and complete - with an easily readable font. Full marks. The disc is, unfortunately, coded for region 'B' only.

Supplements include a new and exclusive video introduction to the film with critic and teacher Gabe Klinger running about 8.5 minutes in 1080P and a new and exclusive video featuring Mr. Klinger discussing the arc of Antonioni’s entire career. This runs just over 10-minutes - also in 1080P. Masters of Cinema have seen fit to include one of their professional booklets - a 28-page liner notes extra containing newly translated vintage critical pieces about the film, excerpts of interviews with Antonioni, and a 1956 letter written by Antonioni to Italo Calvino. There is also a second disc DVD of Le Amiche in the applicably titled 'dual-format' package.

When Blu-ray started to evolve - I immediately thought to owning all of Antonioni's films in this much more film-like digital presentation. We are slowly but surely getting there. His oeuvre is so rich and I am so glad to have this film and La Signora Senza Camelie released by a company that takes such care to detail producing exquisite digital packages of the highest quality. This goes for Criterion and the BFI's Red Desert as well. Let's keep our fingers crossed for L'Avventura, L'Eclisse, Blow-up, The Passenger - to not only be brought to 1080p resolution but by a company with the passion and dedication that the Masters of Cinema embody. This Le Amiche dual-format package is absolutely recommended!  

***

ON THE IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT DVD - 2002: This DVD is inordinately dark. Although, of the recent non-Criterion Antonioni's we have reviewed - I would suspect that this has, close to, the best image quality. Removable subtitles are a bonus considering La Notte and Il Grido are forced. A very strong Antonioni effort which I highly doubt will be coming out in a superior edition anytime soon. It is the type of Image Entertainment disc that will eventually go out of print and fetch big dollars on eBay like Red Desert. No extras again, but I am glad I have my copy.  out of  

 

Gary W. Tooze

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Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP

2) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Captures

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

1) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


Michelangelo Antonioni films on DVD (NTSC) - CLICK COVERS or REVIEW BUTTON for more information

 


Recommended Books for Michelangelo Antonioni reading (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

 

Box Cover

  

Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Masters of Cinema - Spine #18 - Region 'B' - Blu-ray Criterion Collection - Spine #817 - Region 'A' Blu-ray




 

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Gary Tooze