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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Francofonia [Blu-ray]


(Aleksandr Sokurov, 2015)


Music Box Films has a Region 'A' Blu-ray available in North America:



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC)

Video: Artificial Eye Curzons



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

Runtime: 2:18:29.592 

Disc Size: 24,556,663,196 bytes

Feature Size: 23,298,859,008 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 23rd, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio Russian 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio Russian 3216 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3216 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (burned-in)



• Trailer (1:46)





Description: Francofonia is the story of two remarkable men, louvre director Jacques Jaujard and Nazi Occupation officer Count Franziskus Wolff-Metternich - enemies then collaborators - whose alliance would be the driving force behind the preservation of museum treasures. v explores the relationship between art and power, the Louvre museum as a living example of civilization, and what art tells us about ourselves even in the midst of one of the bloodiest conflicts the world has ever seen.



The Film:

Who would we be without museums?” Aleksandr Sokurov wonders as he narrates this challenging philosophical essay, and sifts materials back, forth and around in the Louvre’s history. Invoking the Bolsheviks and a grinning Stalin around the similar Hermitage Museum, he uses archival footage and fictional re-enactment as well as metaphoric screen-within-a-screen footage (monitoring a ship loaded with artistic cargo as it navigates a difficult voyage) to explore the complicated nature of wartime plundering, hoarding and the role of art in a nation’s heritage. Actors playing Napoleon and French national symbol Marianne wander the bowels of the empty museum, as do actors playing Jacques Jaujard and Count Wolff-Metternich (directors of French museums and of the German Kunstschutz during the Nazi occupation of France, respectively) – highlighting how their uneasy working relationship underscores larger questions of wartime spoils and cultural preservation that are no less uneasy or complicated.

Excerpt from Globe+Mail located HERE

This deliriously eccentric film from the Russian director Alexander Sokurov is a strange but engrossing mix of documentary and drama, fact and fiction. It poses partly as a history of the Louvre in Paris during the occupation of the Nazis, but it expands out to be a very personal musing on art, with the filmmaker himself appearing as a character.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE


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

Francofonia gets a solid transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye.  It is single-layered but the disc is bare-bones, with only a trailer, so the 2 1/4 hour film has a supportive bitrate available. Much of the film is achieving an aged appearance, with lines and marks, and the manner in which it is accomplished looks authentic in 1080P without undue transparency. The more modern cinematography, and static shots, look impressive with rich black levels and some minor depth in the 1.66:1 frame. This Blu-ray probably looks exactly as it was, stylistically, meant to.
















Audio :

Artificial Eye use the option of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 or a linear PCM stereo track- both in the original Russian langauge. It's mostly narration with some dialogue and alternate sounds. I didn't detect much separation but the score, credited to composer, pianist Murat Kabardokov and some may identify Kindertotenlieder by Gustav Mahler, which sounds appropriately period 'classical' for the film experience. Strangely, there are burned-in English subtitles and my Oppo has identified the disc as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Only is a theatrical trailer which seems unfortunate as I'm sure there are a bevy of world cinema critics and analysts that would love to dive head first into Francofonia.



Once again Sokurov doesn't disappoint with a refreshing, eccentric, piece of fascinating cinema. It's a film that will benefit from repeat viewings - it has its own density and unique style that encourages revisitation as a dissertation on art. The Artificial Eye Blu-ray provides a solid HD presentation although the bare-bones status, and burned-in subtitles, leave something to be desired. I should obtain the Region 'A', Music Box Films Blu-ray edition and compare. I'm keen to see a more complete package of this enriching film. 

Gary Tooze

January 22nd, 2017

Music Box Films has a Region 'A' Blu-ray available in North America:



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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze






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