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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Le Crépuscule des dieux' or Ludwig' or 'Ludwig II ')

Directed by Luchino Visconti
USA 1972

 

Visconti’s 1972 film is a lavish and operatic portrait of Ludwig II, the ‘Mad King’ of Bavaria. From his glittering coronation to his mysterious suicide, Ludwig II (1845-86) epitomised the doomed nineteenth-century Romantic hero. A loner by nature, he was tormented by his unrequited love for his cousin, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who sensed his true sexual nature and fragile grip on reality. But as war raged around him, Ludwig’s sole obsession remained the visionary music of Richard Wagner, and he retreated more and more into a fantasy world, alarming his ministers through his irrational behaviour, neglect of state affairs and lavish expenditure on several fairytale castles. Judged unfit to rule, Ludwig was declared insane.

 

  Posters

Theatrical Release: December 29th, 1972

Reviews                                                             More Reviews                                                             DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

 Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL vs. Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL vs. Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

1) Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT

2) Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Cover

 

  

Arrow's Blu-ray package is also available in the UK:

Distribution Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 3:47:51  Total = 4:07:13

Theatrical:

2:06:24.034 + 1:51:53.875 = 3:58:16.909

Television:

47:45 + 55:29 + 42:56 + 47:58 + 53:35 = 4:09:11

Video 2.30 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.32 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s
2.35 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.64 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,787,343,908 bytes

Feature: 34,471,672,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Disc 2:

Disc Size 2: 46,169,977,829 bytes

Feature: 16,801,713,600 bytes + 14,940,832,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.67 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate: Infinity

Bitrate: Kinowelt Disc 1

Bitrate: Kinowelt Disc 2

Bitrate: Arrow Disc 1 Blu-ray

Bitrate: Arrow Disc 2 Blu-ray

Audio Italian (Mono)  Italian (Mono), German (Mono)  LPCM Audio Italian 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, None German, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Infinity Arthouse

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.30:1

Edition Details:

• The Scent Of A Primrose Silvana Mangano (31:11)
• Italian Portraits Suso Cecchi DAmic (48:10)
• Documentary On Luchino Visconti Directed By Carlos Lizzani (1:00:46)

DVD Release Date: June 19th, 2006

Double Slim Transparent Keep Case inside slipcase
Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio: Kinowelt Home Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Documentary On Luchino Visconti Directed By Carlos Lizzani (with German subtitles) (1:00:34)

DVD Release Date: Oct 13th, 2000

Double Slim Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 36 (in total)

Release Information:
Studio:
Arrow

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-rays

 

Disc Size 1: 47,787,343,908 bytes

Feature: 34,471,672,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Disc 2:

Disc Size 2: 46,169,977,829 bytes

Feature: 16,801,713,600 bytes + 14,940,832,704 bytes

Video Bitrate: 34.67 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
Disc 1

• Brand-new interview with actor Helmut Berger (16:05)
• Luchino Visconti, an hour-long documentary portrait of the director by Carlo Lizzani (Wake Up and Kill, Requiescant) containing interviews with Burt Lancaster, Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Rosi, Claudia Cardinale and others (1:00:35)

English Soundtrack Excerpts: 1:28 + 0:21

Disc 2

Producing Ludwig - interview with producer Dieter Giessler (14:16)
• "I am Only a crftsman' - Speaking with Suso Cecchi d'Amico, an interview with the screenwriter (48:12)
• Silvana Mangano: The Scent Of A Primrose, a half-hour portrait of the actress (31:12)
• Theatrical trailer (3:49)
• FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet containing new writing by Peter Cowie

2 DVDs

 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 11th, 2017
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters:12

 

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray April 2017: The 4K restored Arrow (advertised as being 'from the original film negative') offers two viewing options: the full-length theatrical cut or as five individual parts (labeled as 'Television Presentation'.) These seem to differ by about 10-minutes. This is spread over 2 Blu-rays and it looks like the cuts are seamlessly-branched if I am reading my software correctly. This means the image quality for both will be the same. Cinephiles have been anxiously awaiting this release on a reasonable, English-friendly, digital release since these formats began. The Arrow looks very heavy, rich and film-like. This is not a pristine, glossy image but a clean and dense one that showcases the film's impressive visuals beautifully in-motion. Colors are significantly well-balanced , compared to the SDs with flesh-tones looking far more realistic and primary colors seem tight, deep and controlled.  There is a minor shift in the frame to the right - as compared to the German DVD image. There is both depth and texture in the 1080P visuals and close-ups show some pleasing tightness. Overall - this is a revelation, in terms of presentation. The decade old Infinity Arthouse DVD can be thrown in the bin.

Arrow use mono liner PCM tracks providing both original Italian and an English DUB - of sorts. The English presentation reverts to the original Italian soundtrack for portions where English audio does not exist. Subtitles can be displayed for these Italian part only or throughout via an English (SDH) choice. The film's music is exclusively classical with Offenbach's La Périchole, Wagner 's Elegy for Piano in A Flat Major, Prelude to "Lohengrin" and Liebestod from "Tristan und Isolde. It sounds exquisite but, obviously flat. The Arrow is really Region 'A + B' but I've yet to see a region 'C'-locked Blu-ray so let's just consider this region FREE. We presume that the UK and US packages are, more or less, identical (Region 1 or 2 for the included DVDs - and in the latter case the video standard is NTSC, to maximise compatibility). The booklets are also identical, but there are minor cosmetic differences on the disc labels and sleeve to do with differing copyright info and barcodes, and the US release doesn't have BBFC logos.

Extras include a brand-new 1/4 hour interview with actor Helmut Berger, the previously seen on DVD hour-long Luchino Visconti documentary portrait of the director by Carlo Lizzani containing interviews with Burt Lancaster, Vittorio Gassman, Francesco Rosi, Claudia Cardinale and others. There are also a couple of brief English soundtrack excerpts for the curious. On the second Blu-ray disc we get Producing Ludwig - a 15-minute interview with producer Dieter Giessler, 'I Am Only a Craftsman' - almost 50-minutes with delightful Suso Cecchi d'Amico the film's screenwriter, Silvana Mangano: The Scent Of A Primrose, a half-hour portrait of the actress - the last two both found on the Infinity Arthouse DVD. There is a theatrical trailer and the first pressing gets an illustrated collector's booklet containing new writing by Peter Cowie. Being dual-format two DVds are included.  

Another amazing package from Arrow which should get prominent mention at our year-end poll. Easily a must-own and it gets our highest recommendation!

***

ADDITION: Kinowelt - Region 2, 8 PAL - June 06': A moot comparison for many as the German edition has no English subtitles.

The image of the Kinowelt is obviously superior - It is anamorphic, where the Infinity is not, and I trust the colors more - the Infinity appear to have a brownish haze over them and are artificially brightened in many segments. The Infinity is cropped on all 4 sides.

We have a time difference of about 20 minutes on these but the Kinowelt includes the title screen indicating which of the 5 parts you are watching plus the closing credits for that particular section so I am not 100% convinced that the Infinity has left anything out... although it is possible. The divided segments are helpful in viewing as one tends to need the breaks in my opinion.

Extras - The Kinowelt has the same Visconti documentary (German subtitles) as the Infinity, but the UK disc includes two others AND they all have English subtitles.

If you understand German or Italian then we suggest the Kinowelt - but the Infinity has excellent extra features and, we'll assume for the time being, that it shows the entire film uncut (excepting title segments and respective closing credits).

***

For a film with occasional handsome visuals it is really a shame that this Infinity Arthouse DVD is NOT anamorphic. There is also a border circumventing the frame reducing the horizontal resolution. So there is some weakness inherent in the transfer - skin tones can tend to look too red at time, there is digital noise and some visible artifacts. On the positive some close-ups have decent detail. Overall the lack of 16X9 enhancement is unfortunate but not totally fatal for enjoying the film. Another complaint would be the optional subtitles which are quite large and intrusive - it appears as though Infinity Arthouse did not do their homework to bring out the beauty of Visconti's lengthy masterpiece. The very low bitrate supports these inferiorities. If disc space was the excuse then I personally would rather have seen this film spread over two DVDs.  

I understand that this film was originally cut by 30 minutes and I can't quite be sure which version this represents. The longest version listed at IMdb would be roughly 4 hours and this would coincide with this DVD at 3:47 (being reduced by 4% for PAL speedup). Regardless, it is a very long film. 

The best thing about this DVD package are the 2nd disc of extras. 3 features about Visconti are included.... and they are all interesting. The documentary on Visconti is almost an hour long and goes through Visconti's films with many short clips  - Burt Lancaster and others make some comments in between. We also have a portrait (Suso Cecchi DAmic) and The Scent Of A Primrose, which although only 30 minutes I enjoyed the most with many talking heads reminiscing about Luchino, his films and other Italian filmmakers including Pasolini. All 3 features are in Italian and subtitled in English. 

RE: the film - Visconti appears obsessed with the darker side of bourgeoisie decadence. I really got into parts of this film but for me, personally, it was quite long with some tedious and uninteresting segments. Much of the atmosphere is very dark with many close-ups and those appreciative of this style of filmmaking will have a better chance of lasting through in one session. It might be advisable for those who are not familiar with the film to prepare themselves to view over 2 segments. I certainly don't think this is Visconti's best film but it does have merit as an intelligent exploration of madness. Those keen on classical music will love the score that is almost constantly playing Wagner and Schumann throughout.

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus

 

(Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL LEFT vs. Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL RIGHT)


 

Subsequent menus

 

(Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL LEFT vs. Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL RIGHT)


 

Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

1) Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

Screen Captures

 

 

1) Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

 

1) Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

 

1) Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

 

1) Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

 

1) Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

 

1) Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

 

1) Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL - MIDDLE

3) Arrow - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

More Blu-ray Capturers


Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 

Box Cover

 

  

Arrow's Blu-ray package is also available in the UK:

Distribution Infinity Arthouse - Region 0 - PAL Kinowelt Home Entertainment - Region 2,8 - PAL Arrow Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray




 

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