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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" )

 

directed by Pedro Almodóvar
Spain 1988

Melding melodrama with screwball farce, this Academy Award–nominated black comedy was Pedro Almodóvar’s international breakthrough and secured his place at the vanguard of modern Spanish cinema. Continuing the auteur’s exploration of the female psyche, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown tells the story of Pepa—played by the director’s frequent collaborator Carmen Maura—who resolves to kill herself with a batch of sleeping-pill-laced gazpacho after her lover leaves her. Fortunately, she is interrupted by a deliciously chaotic series of events. The filmmaker channeled Hollywood inspiration into his own unique vision, arriving at the irreverent humor and vibrant visual sense that define his work today. With an exceptional ensemble cast that also includes Antonio Banderas and Rossy de Palma, this film shows an artist in total control of his craft.

 

***

Loosely based upon a play by Jean Cocteau, and by Almodóvar considered his key film, "Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown" demonstrates many of the future elements of his oeuvre, here especially hysterically women.

The story begins with Pepa (Carmen Maura), distraught my her break-up with her boyfriend, prepares her suicide by gazpacho with sleeping pills, as she is saved by her best friend, who is on the run, only later to have her ex-lovers grown up son's fiancée falling asleep, because she ate of the gazpacho and him having an affair with her best friend.

When Almodóvar talks about it as his key film, it may be because we here find motifs later explores in especially "Live Flesh" and "All about my Mother", but also here he hits the tone of this flamboyant often campy colorful mise-en-scene, where he pays homage to his many influences, as for instance Salvatore Dali.

Henrik Sylow

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 23, 1988 (Barcelona)

Reviews                                                                       More Reviews                                                              DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Optimum (The Almodóvar Collection - Volume 1) - Region 2 - PAL vs. Viva Pedro - Columbia Tri-Star / Sony Pictures Classics Pedro Almodóvar Classics Collection (9-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

Optimum - Region 2 - PAL LEFT

Sony - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Covers

 

Part of the The Almodovar Collection (Vol.1) which includes 'Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown', 'Pepi, Luci, Bom', 'Dark Habits', and 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?'

   

   

  

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Sony Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 855 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:25:17 (4% PAL speedup) 1:29:01 1:29:19.854
Video

1.78:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.87 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

 1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.81 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 1080P / 23.976 fps

Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,875,533,210 bytes

Feature: 28,159,819,776 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate: Optimum

 

Bitrate: Blu-ray

 

Audio 2.0 Dolby Digital Spanish  Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1) 

DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 2034 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2034 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 2714 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2714 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Subtitles English (HoH), Spanish, French, None English, none English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Optimum

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.78:1

Edition Details:
• Introduction by José Arroyo (7:02 / 16x9)

DVD Release Date: November 14, 2005
Boxed digipack

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Columbia Tri-Star Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer

DVD Release Date: January 30th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 28

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

 

1.85:1 1080P / 23.976 fps

Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 43,875,533,210 bytes

Feature: 28,159,819,776 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.97 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video


Edition Details:

New interviews with Pedro Almodóvar (16:53), Agustín Almodóvar (16;12), and actor Carmen Maura (19:07)
• New discussion by film scholar Richard Peña of the film’s impact in Spain and abroad (11:06)
• Trailer (1:45)
• PLUS: An essay by novelist and critic Elvira Lindo

Blu-ray Release Date:
February 21st, 2017
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray - January 2017: Criterion's 1080P is cited as a "New 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Pedro Almodóvar and executive producer Agustín Almodóvar". Kudos, of course, to the film but the 1080P looks stunning. It is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. Colors are vibrant (skin tones have warmed), fine grain textures are evident, contrast is at Criterion's usual high level and there is depth. The appearance flirts with saturation and is darker than the other two DVDs. It is transferred in the accurate 1.85:1 ratio and adds even more beyond the SDs (the Sony looking decidedly cropped.) Almodóvar films always have the most lush art direction and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is a prime example. Visually this looks beautiful in-motion.

Criterion go DTS-HD Master in 2.0 channel with the option of a 5.1 surround track. The score is by Bernardo Bonezzi (Almodóvar's Matador), plus Lola Beltrán performing Soy infeliz, La Lupe's Puro teatro and the wonderful Rimsky-Korsakov pieces from Scherezade. - all sound brilliant. There are effects with limited separation but the music has a grip on carrying much of the film's delightfully varying moods. The quality is exceptional. There are optional English subtitles on the Region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

Criterion provide new interviews. We get 17-minutes with Pedro Almodóvar who talks about working in the comedy genre. There is a 16-minute piece with his brother, and producer Agustín Almodóvar who discusses his role in the filmmaking process and we spend juts shy of 20-minutes with actor Carmen Maura as she discuss the evolution of her career and her iconic performance in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. There is also a new, 11-minute, discussion by film scholar Richard Peña, film professor and former programmer of the New York Films Festival, of the film’s impact in Spain and abroad and what makes Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown a quintessential Pedro Almodóvar film. Lastly, is a trailer. The package contains a liner notes booklet with an essay by novelist and critic Elvira Lindo.

There really is no bad time to watch a Pedro Almodóvar film. They are so effortless to 'get into to'. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is so much fun I want to watch it all over again right now. Criterion's Blu-ray gives an impressive a/v presentation and this joyous film experience in 1080P gets our highest recommendation!

Gary W. Tooze

***

ON THE OPTIMUM DVD: A decent image. There are signs of color banding, but in general artifacts are at a minimum. Colors are strong, but details lacking.

 - Henrik Sylow

ON THE SONY DVD: Not as saturated as the PAL edition, but still possibly the weak link of the package - image-wise. It could be marginally cropped. A decent image, but not stellar. There are signs of color banding, but in general artifacts are at a minimum. Detail is somewhat weaker than in some of the other releases in the Viva Pedro package.

Gary W. Tooze


Menus

 

Optimum - Region 2 - PAL

 

 

Sony - Region 1 - NTSC

 

 

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

   
   
   
   

 

 


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

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP

Sony - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP

Sony - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

Criterion Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

  

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Covers

 

Part of the The Almodovar Collection (Vol.1) which includes 'Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown', 'Pepi, Luci, Bom', 'Dark Habits', and 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?'

   

   

  

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Sony Pictures

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion Collection - Spine # 855 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

 

 



 

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Gary Tooze

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