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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Private Vices, Public Virtues aka 'Vizi privati, pubbliche virtů' [Blu-ray]


(Miklós Jancsó, 1976)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Filmes Cinematografica

Video: Mondo Macabro



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:43:42.716  

Disc Size: 24,018,115,116 bytes

Feature Size: 20,733,834,432 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 8th, 2016



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1131 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1131 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Italian 1053 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1053 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)



English, none



In Praise of Lightness - interview with cast member Pamela Villoresi (19:18)
Film historian Michael Brooke on Miklós Jancsó (16:34)
The Last Revolution - interview with writer Giovanna Gagliardo (30:53)
Trailer (3:00)





Description: Loosely based on the famous Mayerling Incident, the film is set in a Central European kingdom towards the end of the 19th century. Bored by his very proper wife, the youthful heir to the throne spends his time in amorous dalliances on his sprawling country estate, which operates like a kind of proto hippy commune.

A mysterious Circus of Truth arrives, the champagne is spiked, the party turns wild, and it culminates in death and tragedy. Much misunderstood, the film caused a sensation when it screened at the Cannes film festival in 1976. Today, this overlooked masterpiece of European art cinema can finally be appreciated as one of the most original films of its era. There really is nothing else like it in world cinema. This first Blu-Ray edition, uncut and restored from the original negative, comes with a host of exclusive special features.



The Film:

This continues Jancsó's attack on paternalist authority, but its dreamily languorous pace is about all it has in common with its predecessors. Filmed in Italy, it uses the Mayerling story as the basis for a political fable about an act of rebellion: a young prince refuses to bend to his father's will, by staying on his country estate and by debauching the sons and daughters of local landowners to create a scandal in the capital. Apart from the cruel but inevitable pay-off, that's really all that happens, but Jancsó elaborates it into an extraordinary multi-sexual erotic rhapsody, using dancers rather than actors to turn the pastoral drama into something like an Elizabethan masque. The sexual aspect manages to be completely forthright (it centres on the figure of a hermaphrodite) but not at all prurient; as if Freud's 'polymorphous perversity' were the ultimate weapon against patriarchal tyranny.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

The Mayerling affair is the essence of the matter, viewed from the vantage of Rabelais, van Haarlem, and the doomed Age of Aquarius carousel. Crown Prince Rudolf (Lajos Balázsovits), heir to the Hapsburg Empire, is introduced ass-first a la Bardot, smoking a cig atop a hayloft in his pastoral estate, a secluded garden and the stage for the unending orgy. His stepsiblings (Pamela Villoresi, Franco Branciaroli) are his chief partners-in-debauchery, Mary (Teresa Ann Savoy) is no baroness but part of the traveling circus troupe; scandal is "the only weapon we have," the swirling nudity of their pansexual romps is a direct affront to Emperor Franz Joseph, whose regime values the rigidity of the military uniform above all. "Much of our highly valued cultural heritage has been acquired at the cost of sexuality" (Freud). Released from the machinistic long-take, the bariolage of Miklós Jancsó’s filming is here close to the darkening movement of Ophüls, whose own version of the fable (De Mayerling ŕ Sarajevo) gets a sharp tip o’ the hat in the running photograph gag. The bacchanalia is as choreographed as the maneuvers and skirmishes of The Round-Up or The Red and the White, yet here the circles spill over, overlap and break off, the naked figures that previously embodied humiliation stand for insurrection.

Excerpt from located HERE

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

Private Vices, Public Virtues has surprising image quality on Blu-ray from Mondo Macabro - and is described as "taken from the original negative". The opening and end credits look the most compromised - as if taken from 3rd generation video. But the guts of the film look solid in 1080P.   The 1 3/4-hour film is housed on a single-layered disc with a modest bitrate. Colors hint at bleeding but end up looking consistent and not overly embellished. Contrast seems to be exported to maximize the film's visual strengths - with reasonably pleasing detail. I was bothered by any significant damage and is presented in the, bastardized, 1.78:1 aspect ratio. This Blu-ray does its job better than I anticipated and the visual quality was strong enough to enhance my viewing.













Audio :

Mondo Macabro give the option of English or Italian-language in DTS-HD Master mono tracks (24-bit) and dialogue is audible. The effects are fairly minimal but there is a score by Francesco De Masi (The Hanging Woman, The New York Ripper) and some may recognize Tamás Cseh's pieces. There are optional English subtitles for the original Italian-track. My Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Mondo Macabro add some good extras - film historian Michael Brooke talks about Miklós Jancsó's films and career for over 16-minutes informing us of the director's substantial reputation. We also get In Praise of Lightness - a 20-minute interview with cast member Pamela Villoresi (English subtitles) and The Last Revolution a 1/2 hour interview with writer Giovanna Gagliardo. There is also a trailer.



I found Private Vices, Public Virtues fascinating. The Mondo Macabro Blu-ray
seems to do a decent job of presenting the film. On their blog it states: "The main difference between this film and his more acclaimed earlier works is that it features a host of increasingly bizarre sexual incidents. When it screened as an official entry in the 1976 Cannes Festival and viewers caught on to some of the shocking things that it contained ... well, let's just say that it caused a scandal and in some ways Jancso's reputation never recovered. Like Borowczyk before him, he was almost written off as a one time great film maker who had strayed too far into porn and lost his artistic mojo.

In fact PRIVATE VICES PUBLIC VIRTUES now plays like an overlooked masterpiece. There really is nothing like it in world cinema. The controversy long behind us, we can see that this is one of those rare erotic productions where the point of the film lies in its excess. There's nothing gratuitous about it. Known in Germany as THE BIG ORGY (Die Grosse Orgie), this amazing piece of subversive 70s cinema has never been well treated on home video - pirated, cut and generally not given the respect it deserves. This new release from Mondo Macabro, a world Blu-ray exclusive taken from the original negative, will bring this forgotten classic of world cinema back into the spotlight. It's a film that once seen cannot be forgotten, and it deserves a place in the home of all adventurous film lovers.


Not up to the stature of Jancsó's The Red and the White, The Round-Up or Red Psalm (all 3 worthy of Blu-ray status!) - Private Vices, Public Virtues has its place for the adventurous cinema fan... and one who is, definitely, not deterred by extensive nudity. Recommended!

Gary Tooze

November 18th, 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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