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J'Accuse aka "I Accuse" [Blu-ray]
(Abel Gance, 1938)
Review by Gary Tooze
NOTE: the 1919 version of J'Accuse, also directed by Gance, is reviewed HERE.
Video:Olive Films / BFI
Region: 'A'/ Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:59:12.145/ 2:00:06.708
Disc Size: 24,667,364,856 bytes/ 32,346,376,739 bytes
Feature Size: 24,459,393,024 bytes/ 31,004,649,408 bytes
Video Bitrate: 24.00 Mbps/ 28.17 Mbps
Chapters: 9/ 12
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: November 15th, 2016/ July 24th, 2017
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio French 1835 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1835 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio French 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps /
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
• English, None
• New audio commentary
by Paul Cuff
J'accuse, director Abel Gance s (Napoleon)
indictment of war, is a tale of romance and idealism in the
tradition of Tolstoy's War and Peace and Jean
La Grande Illusion.
After surviving the bloodshed of World War I, soldier Jean Diaz (Victor Francen) sacrifices his dream of being a poet for a far more important pursuit: ending war. Turning to science, Diaz dedicates himself to creating technology that will make combat obsolete. Bankrolling the project is tycoon Henri Chimax (Jean Max). But, when World War II becomes imminent, Chimax sees an opportunity to bolster the French war effort -- and swipes Diaz's pacifist invention so it can be used by the army.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
In the first third, Gance reprises his 1918 film of the same title, in the second third he carries the story forward, and the final third is something else again. Exploring the old Verdun battlefield in a thunderstorm, trench veteran Francen undergoes some unspecified transforming experience. Later, with world conflict about to break out again, he invokes the spirits of the war dead who, in an echo of the earlier picture, rise up and parade about reproachfully. A 'Universal Council' is convened, the war is called off, the dead return to their graves. Historically, these passages are an invaluable complement to Munich '38. As cinema, their unself-conscious absurdity and vulgarity (genuine disfigured veterans alongside extras in ghoul make-up) mark them as pure Gance.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The 1938 version of Abel Gance's J'Accuse arrives on Blu-ray from Olive Films (you can see a review the 1919 version on Flicker Alley DVD HERE.) This is only single-layered and the presentation reflects the source used - with a few inconsistencies but density was not one of them. Actually, I found the weaknesses quite minor and I loved the thick, consistent grain. Vintage war footage is the most damaged (see below) but the rest of the feature looked impressive. Understandably, there is no real depth but this 1080P, in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio, provides a strong presentation. Contrast is excellent and black levels are pitch. The Blu-ray is a fabulous way to see this amazing film in your home theater.
The BFI is dual-layered with a higher bitrate but most won't notice a demonstrative improvement. It does, marginally, look better in-motion and seems to export the grain more consistently when zoomed-in.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio is transferred to a DTS-HD Master mono (original) track at 1835 kbps (24-bit). There is a score by Henri Verdun. The audio quality is, of course, at the mercy of the source - but the lossless rendering probably helped with any balance issues - improving depth in war-related aggression - and it sounded strong and fairly consistent to my ears. It is all predictably flat but very audible and supportive. There are optional English (yellow font - see samples) subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
BFI use a linear PCM 2.0 channel track - also 24-bit - and it sounds about the same to my ears. The score by Henri Verdun suits the film extremely well and the film's more aggressive audio requirements come through, probably, we produced. The BFI has optional English subtitles on their Region 'B'-locked Blu-ray disc.
No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with the majority of their releases.
While the Olive provided nothing in the way of supplements, BFI add a new audio commentary by Paul Cuff giving important historical reference to the film and an analysis of Gance's work - highly educational. There is also a stills and special collections gallery and the package has a liner notes booklet with an illustrated booklet with full film credits, reviews and a new essay by Paul Cuff.
Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
The BFI Blu-ray eclipses the Olive in every area to varying degrees. It's the one to own and has our highest recommendation!
November 18th, 2016
July 28th, 2017
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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