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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'The God Game')

Directed by Guy Green
UK 1968

 

An English teacher arrives on a sleepy Greek island to take up a vacant teaching post. The last man to hold the post committed suicide under mysterious circumstances. Slowly but surely, he is drawn into a bizarre game engineered by a reclusive local magician. The deeper into the game he is drawn, the more he senses danger... yet cannot seem to untangle himself from the fascinating and compelling influence that the game is having on his mind.

***

The Magus is one of the weirdest films of the late 60's. A star studded cast and brimming with exquisite cinematography only enhance its Losey-reminiscent appeal. It is from the John Fowles' novel (from a screenplay by the author himself) and it is certainly convoluted. It was panned by the critics - even Woody Allen stated that if he had to live his life over again he would do everything the same... except he wouldn't go to see The Magus. If the lack of comprehension of the film was solely due to ineptness then I would agree - but I really got the feeling that something unique was being attempted. Its success or failure is totally up to the individual viewer, but regardless it follows an unusual structural path with an diverse flow. I was fascinated at times, but those anticipating the standard fare will no doubt be left scratching their head in disquieted belief - their expectations tossed down a well. Those prepared for an unusual and complex cinema experience filled with odd twists and turns.

***

The director, Guy Green, is remarkable in knowing what to show, what to drop, what to put in relief. The camera picks up Empson's book, "The Seven Types of Ambiguity," works by Auden, frescoes that are meant to be (and cannot, because of their location, possibly be) by Fra Angelico — but it does not dwell on them. You can see the movie as just a dense, rather sexy story if you like. Candice Bergen, who is not a remarkable actress, is perfectly cast as a partly unreal character, some of whose essence is her artificiality. For a change, the work a character does to earn his living is shown with care, so that Caine's brief scenes as a teacher in a boys' school include a few classrooms and recesses as they actually are.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 10th, 1968

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Comparison:

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT

Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray  RIGHT

 

 Box Covers

   

   

Distribution 20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC Signal One - Region 'B' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:58:08  1:56:16.594
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.77 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,240,261,728 bytes

Feature: 34,090,276,416 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.01 Mbps

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate:  Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital Mono), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUBs: Spanish mono, French mono  LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles English, Spanish, None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Featurette: John Fowles: The Literary Magus (22:44)
• Trailers 

DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 24

Release Information:
Studio: Signal One

 

2.35:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,240,261,728 bytes

Feature: 34,090,276,416 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.01 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• Enchanted Island: Michael Green On The Filming Of "The Magus" (22:03)
• Guy Green: A Life Behind the Camera (22:22)

• John  Fowles: The Literary Magus (22:45)
• Billy Williams talks about The Magus (12:15)
• Tim Hutchinson talks about The Magus (10:22)
• Stephanie Kaye talks about The Magus (5:44)
• Original Theatrical Trailer (1:01)

DVD

Blu-ray Release Date:
April 24th, 2017
Transparent (UK) Thick
Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Signal One Blu-ray - April 2007 - The1080P image, on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate, is absolutely gorgeous. The SD was strong and the Blu-ray is outstanding in the higher resolution. Colors and contrast are so impressive supporting brilliant detail - so strong you can see the actor's make-up in close-ups. The Magus is filled with the breathtaking scenery of Mallorca, Islas Baleares, Spain. The film is beautiful and the Blu-ray supports an outstanding, rich, lush, image chock-full of impressive depth. 

Signal One stay authentic with a linear PCM mono track (24-bit) that is equal to the strong video with an healthy, subtle, score by John Dankworth (10 Rillington Place, Sands of the Kalahari, The Last Grenade, Losey's Accident and The Servant among his credits). The audio is, likewise, very pleasing in lossless - augmenting the film experience, There are optional English subtitles on the Region 'B' Blu-ray disc.

Signal One stack the package with extras including two Fiction Factory bonus features; the 23-minute Guy Green: A Life Behind the Camera is a never-before-seen interview from 2003 in which the director looks back on his amazing career, while Enchanted Island is described as "a 20-minute documentary on Guy Green’s controversial 1968 film THE MAGUS, adapted from the bestselling John Fowles. In the documentary, it is the director’s son, Michael, who takes us back to the summer of 1967 and gives a first-hand account of how the Spanish island of Mallorca and its gorgeous beaches stood in for the fictitious Greek isle described in Fowles’ novel. There is also a fascinating, and highly personal piece entitled John Fowles: The Literary Magus running almost 23-minutes with those who knew him commenting on the enigmatic individual. We get interviews with DoP Billy Williams who talks about filming The Magus for a dozen minutes, set designer, Tim Hutchinson talks about his work on The Magus, and hair stylist Stephanie Kaye comments for under 6-minutes. There is also an original theatrical trailer and a second disc DVD is included (Dual Format).

A challenging, never boring, film from the pen of John Fowles. I admit I saw significantly more than  my SD viewing years ago. I think it would be a lesser film without the strong cast. The Magus is a fascinating film with themes of mortality, love, fantasy, haunting pasts... and mystery. I'm keen to tackle it again one day in the future, if only to see the magnificent scenery and hypnotic Candy Bergen glowing in 1080P. Let's not forget Anna Karina - and the strange relationship of Caine and Quinn.

This Signal One Blu-ray is a real experience and the extensive extras add true value to bolster appreciation. Absolutely recommended!

***

ON THE DVD: A beautiful 2.35:1 progressive transfer that I could have taken screen captures of all day. Colors are bright and defined and the overall image has some strong detail. The mono audio is a little weak, sounding echoy at times - generally though it is consistent and certainly clear enough to make out all the dialogue. I didn't listen to the stereo track, but suspect it is superior. There are optional subtitles in English or Spanish.

 There is a 20 minute featurette, with many people discussing Fowles and the novel; The Magus. It recounts how highly revered the author still is but nothing of the film is mentioned.

I can't really recommend the film as most will be infuriated with it, but the DVD is certainly up to scratch - a brilliant 16X9 image, an interesting featurette and at a fairly reasonable price.

Gary W. Tooze


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