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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Canoa: A Shameful Memory [Blu-ray]


(Felipe Cazals, 1976)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Conacite Uno

Video: Criterion Collection Spine #862



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

Runtime: 1:55:11.029

Disc Size: 47,346,213,295 bytes

Feature Size: 34,340,646,912 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.61 Mbps

Chapters: 23

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: March 14th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio Spanish 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit



English (SDH), none


New introduction by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro
New conversation between filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and Cazals (54:41)
Trailer (4:50)
PLUS: An essay by critic Fernanda Solórzano






Description: One of Mexico’s most highly regarded works of political cinema, Canoa: A Shameful Memory reimagines a real-life incident that had occurred just eight years before its release, when a group of urban university employees on a hiking trip were viciously attacked by residents of the village of San Miguel Canoa who had been manipulated by a corrupt priest into believing the travelers were communist revolutionaries. Director Felipe Cazals adopts a gritty documentary style to narrate the events in Canoa while referencing the climate of political repression that would lead to the massacre of student protesters in Mexico City shortly thereafter. The resulting film is a daring commentary on ideological manipulation, religious fanaticism, and mass violence, as well as a visceral expression of horror.



The Film:

Based on true and tragic events that occurred in the Mexican village of San Miguel Canoa on September 15, 1968, Felipe Cazals' CANOA (1975) has all the creeping dread and runaway terror of a horror film; in fact, its climactic protracted siege almost seems drawn from George Romero's NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968). It's easy to get caught up in CANOA, which is structured in the form of a documentary, and even to be thrilled by the awful perfection of its synchronicity, of the dovetailing of events that can end in only one horrible conclusion, until the realization that it's all true, that it all really happened, brings you back down to earth with a sickening thud.

Excerpt from Arbogast on Film located HERE

The film is based on real events about a group of young employees of the Autonomous University of Puebla who go mountain climbing to La Malinche and have to spend the night in a small town called San Miguel Canoa, where they are confused with communist students. Then during mass the right wing town priest encourages the people to lynch them.

Excerpt from WikiPedialocated HERE


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

Canoa: A Shameful Memory looks excellent on Blu-ray from Criterion and is cited as a "New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director Felipe Cazals".  the major attributes of the 1080P, dual-layered transfer with max'ed out bitrate, seem to be the colors are rich texture. It carries a very film-like presence and is devoid of damage of marks. The visuals are consistent and, I'll wager, it won't ever look better for home theater, digital, presentation.




















Audio :

Typically flat, linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps (24-bit) in the original Spanish language - that sounds flat, dialogue is clean and clear, and there is some depth in the film's latter scenes of violence. There is no score or music at all that I recall (except some singing by the students.) There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.


Extras :

Criterion add some supplement including a new, 3.5-minute introduction by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro who extols the film and it's vérité and construction strengths. There is also a 55-minute, new conversation between filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón and Cazals. It took place in Guadalajara, Mexico in march of 2016, as part of the film's fortieth anniversary celebration and the Guadalajara International Film Festival. Cuarón, who was transfixed by the film at at young age, talks with Cazals about Canoa's inception and production, its visual style, and relevance today, among other topics. There is also a, lengthy, trailer and the package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Fernanda Solórzano.




Canoa: A Shameful Memory
seems very appropriate in our present culture with political hysteria growing by leaps and bounds - it seems people can be persuaded to rationalize, almost anything, including, an agenda of extreme violence - if it suits their propagandized sense of warped justice. I loved the documentary styling of Canoa - it's a brilliantly written and realized film - shocking but delivering a sermon that humankind always needs refreshing. It's not The Ox Bo Incident but the focus evokes those themes of misplaced and unbridled vengeance. This Blu-ray package is a strong recommendation. I had never seen Canoa: A Shameful Memory before. It was a deeply impacting, almost numbing, experience and one I will share with friends given the opportunity. Please, don't miss this one.

Gary Tooze

February 17th, 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.

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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