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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Cosmos aka "Kosmos" [Blu-ray]


(Andrzej Zulawski, 2015)




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Leopardo Filmes

Video: Arrow Video / Kino Lorber



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

Runtime: 1:42:11.333 / 1:42:07.704

Disc Size: 48,327,694,207 bytes / 44,919,293,120 bytes

Feature Size: 30,859,005,504 bytes / 34,439,933,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.95 Mbps / 35.00 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 10

Case (both): Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 17th, 2016 / November 15th, 2016


Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio French 3297 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3297 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)


DTS-HD Master Audio French 3218 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3218 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 2047 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2047 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2010 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2010 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)


Subtitles (both):

English, none



Hanging Sparrows: A retrospective making of interview featurette including cast (Jonathan Genet, Victoria Guerra, Jean-Francois Balmer, Clementine Pons), crew (cinematographer Andre Szankowski and others) and archive footage of director Andrzej Zulawski (31:01)
A Brief History of Gombrowicz – An interview with Rita Gombrowicz and on the life and work of Witold Gombrowicz (11:26)
Bleurgh - Daniel Bird on the films of Andrzej Zulawski and adapting Cosmos into English (4:48)

Behind the Scenes footage (7:42)

Locarno Film Festival (Press Conference - 30:51, Q+A - 44:13, Awards Ceremony - 2:41)

Lisbon and Estoril Festival Introduction (7:36)
Trailers (International - 1:39 , UK - 1:39)

Reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options

First pressing only: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film


Audio commentary by historian Daniel Bird
Making-of featurette (7:43)
Video essay by filmmaker David Cairns (12:19)
International trailer (1:40)
Theatrical trailer (1:42)
Introduction by producer Paulo Branco and director Andrzej Zulawski (7:37)

16-page booklet essay by critic Glenn Kenny



Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Description: When two young men arrive at a family-run guesthouse in rural France, their anticipation of a few days peace and quiet is undermined by a variety of sinister occurrences. A small bird is found murdered, its neck in a tiny noose, a strangely sexualized stain appears on a wall, and a slug crawls across the breakfast tray.

Are these all signs comprising a portent of truly cosmic significance, or merely bizarre coincidences? And is it any wonder that one of the visitors, Witold (piercing-eyed Jonathan Genet) has such difficulty writing his novel, or that his companion Fuchs (Johan Libéreau) prefers to find solace in earthier pleasures?

The final film by the late Andrzej Zulawski, director of the legendary Possession (the only Cannes-winning arthouse film to be officially classified as a video nasty), Cosmos adapts Witold Gombrowicz's legendarily challenging novel into a beguilingly witty combination of (deceptively) lighthearted French farce and a complex, knowing reflection on the absurdities both of humanity itself and the way that we define our notion of the universe according to our individual hang-ups.


The late Andrzej Zulawski (Possession) made a delirious, inimitable career out of pushing the boundaries of film, and his final feature, Cosmos, makes for a fitting end. With fevered kineticism, it transforms Witold Gombrowicz s novel of the same name into an ominous and manic exploration of desire. Witold (Jonathan Genet), who has just failed the bar exam, and his companion Fuchs (Johan Libereau), who has recently quit his fashion job, are staying at a guesthouse run by the intermittently paralytic Madame Woytis (Sabine Azema). Upon discovering a sparrow hanged in the woods near the house, Witold s reality mutates into a whirlwind of tension, histrionics, foreboding omens, and surrealistic logic as he becomes obsessed with Madame Woytis's daughter Lena (Victoria Guerra). 



The Film:

Cosmos,” Andrzej Zulawski’s first film since 2000, is both a comeback and a swan song. Mr. Zulawski, 75 when he died in February, was an important figure in the history of Polish cinema and in the emergence of a borderless, cosmopolitan European style of filmmaking during the Cold War and after. His last work pays tribute to his roots and to his subsequent wanderings. Based on a novel of the same name by the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz, this French-Portuguese co-production is a witty and energetic — if also somewhat labored — mélange of languages, tones and ideas.

The protagonist is a sensitive law student — alternately sulky and stormy — named Witold (Jonathan Genet), who explains that his parents gave him the name because they were Gombrowicz fans. That’s far from the only self-referential moment in the film, which chronicles Witold’s increasingly bizarre experiences at a Lisbon boardinghouse. He and a fellow student, Fuchs (Johan Libéreau), are welcomed by the eccentric and effusive Mme. Woytis (Sabine Azéma), who may be the sanest member of the household.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE


The late, one-of-a-kind Polish writer-director Andrzej Żuławski liked to set movies around vortices, at least figuratively. His final film, the Witold Gombrowicz adaptation Cosmos, offers three of these: the dinner table of a French bed and breakfast, a stormy seaside, and a misty forest, each like the accretion disk of a black hole. In this droll, free-associative send-up of vacationing detective stories, a law student with the looks of a Byronic vampire becomes obsessed with a dead bird he finds hung from a string in the woods, its enigmatic significance just one sign of the invisible and unexplained force that warps the movie, freezing characters in tableaux vivant or leading them to scurry around the floor like the cast of an overheated stage farce.

Excerpt from TheOnion A.V. Club located HERE


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

Cosmos gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow in the UK. The 1 3/4 hour film is housed on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. André Szankowski's (Mysteries of Lisbon) cinematography is exquisite with inventive angles and subtleties. It is extremely sharp with vibrant colors. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels and some frequent depth in the 1.85:1 frame.  It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and there are really no flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the theatrical version of the film Cosmos. It seems devoid of imperfections of any kind.


Kino Lorber's video quality also has a max'ed out bitrate - and the 1080P looks exactly the same - exactly! I detect no video differences at all.



Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM


Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM


Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM


















Audio :

Arrow uses a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 3297 kbps (24-bit) in the original French language and the audio is as breathtaking as the video. It frequently separates although often of a subtle nature with only a couple of more aggressive instances in the film having notable depth. The score is by Andrzej Korzynski (Andrzej Wajda's Man of Iron and Man of Marble) and sounds crisp and clear with beautiful resonence via the lossless. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


As well as a similar DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track (also 24-bit in the original French language) - as found on the Arrow - Kino also add 2.0 channel stereo with the same encode and decent depth - 2047 kbps. It's flatter but as clean and clear for, I suppose, those who's systems don't support surround. There are optional English subtitles and the Kino Blu-ray disc is region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Extras start off with the retrospective featurette "Hanging Sparrows" in which cast members Jonathan Genet, Jean-François Balmer, Victória Guerra, and Clémentine Pons along with cinematographer André Szankowski reflect on the shoot and collaborating with Zulawski. Guerra recalls working on her French to speak clearly for the dubbing and to understand what her co-stars were saying only for Zulawski to decide to keep her voice in the final mix, Genet recalls Zulawski's direction of him to behave like epileptic in some scenes and an animal in other, while Balmer admits to being intimidated by the text of the script and the Gombrowicz original and Szankowski describes the camerawork as if the story were being observed by Zulawski. We also learn that it was producer Paulo Branco who wanted the adaptation to be shot in Sintra. In "A Brief History of Gombrowicz," the writer's widow Rita Gombrowicz discusses his major works, his twenty-four year exile in Buenos Aires, his writing for the Polish underground magazine "Diary" and the themes of his oeuvre. "Bleurgh" is a visual essay in which Daniel Bird discusses the film's literary and cinematic references (from Stendhal and Sartre to TV's THE BIG BANG THEORY), nods to other Gombrowicz works, and the use of wordplay extending back to Zulawski's L'AMORE BRAQUE. The behind the scenes featurette includes footage excerpted in "Hanging Sparrows" including scenes of the cast and crew waiting for the omnipresent rain to stop. The Locarno Film Festival footage is broken up into three parts in which Zulawski and cast discuss the significance of Gombrowicz to Poles of his era, why it took fourteen years for him to direct another film, and interpretations of the story and style. Also included is the Lisbon and Estoril Festival Introduction for the Portuguese screening as well as the international and UK trailers. The first pressing includes a booklet with writing on the film.

Eric Cotenas

Kino have less video extras but do include an audio commentary by historian Daniel Bird (who did the short piece Bleurgh on the Arrow BD) he gives us his take on what is transpiring and I can concur that the film is very rewarding upon repeat viewings. There is the same 8-minute 'behind-the-scenes' making-of featurette as found on the Arrow. There is a 12-minute video essay by filmmaker David Cairns who starts out with "What the actual F#ck may you be thinking if this has been your first exposure to a film by Andrzej Zulawski!". His frank comments about the film's humor, disorientation and bizarreness are much appreciated. There are international and theatrical trailers and it has the option of an 8-minute introduction by producer Paulo Branco and director Andrzej Zulawski (on stage at a screening). Kino have included there own 16-page booklet with an essay by critic Glenn Kenny.


Arrow Video - Region 'B' - Blu-ray



Kino Lorber - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


Cosmos is hilarious - the characters are over-the-top and amusing. The plot intentionally meanders leaving a convoluted narrative as individualistic as Żuławski's oeuvre.  The Arrow Blu-ray provides an excellent a/v presentation with many worthwhile supplements - especially for fans of the director. This challenging film is easy to put in the 'must-own' category for digital librarians and aficionados of world cinema. Our highest recommendation!


The Kino Blu-ray is also very recommendable - excellent a/v and the commentary, video essay offer plenty of value awhile the film does seem to improve, or become more coherent, upon repeat viewings. It's a keeper and I love the cover. I feel it is, certainly, a must-own viewing experience for adventurous world cinema fans... and we encourage you to get one of these packages.  

Gary Tooze

October 14th, 2016

December 12th, 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.

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