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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Jean-Jacques Beineix
France 1981

 

Marvelous amalgam of sadistic thriller and fairytale romance, drawing on a wild diversity of genres from film noir to Feuillade serial. The deliriously offhand plot, cheekily parodying Watergates and French Connections, has switched tapes setting a pair of psychopathic hoods on the trail of a young postal messenger, turning his obsessive dream - of romance with a beautiful black opera singer whose performance on stage he has secretly recorded - into a nightmare from which he is rescued by a timely deus-ex-machina (clearly a descendant of the great Judex). The most exciting debut in years, it is unified by the extraordinary decor - colour supplement chic meets pop art surrealism - which creates a world of totally fantastic reality situated four-square in contemporary Paris.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

***

Director Jean-Jacques Beineix (Betty Blue) launched the 'Cinéma du look' movement with this stylish cult thriller that remains as innovative today as when it premiered in 1981. Jules (Frédéric Andréi), a young postal carrier, illegally tapes a concert of a reclusive opera singer (American soprano Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez). Jules’ attempts to woo the diva are interrupted when Taiwanese bootleggers come after the recording. His problems worsen when a prostitute slips another tape, one that incriminates a police chief, into his bag. Now, Jules must escape the police chief, the cop’s henchmen and the bootleggers to keep both precious tapes safe—and to stay alive. Featuring a celebrated chase through the Paris Metro and an early appearance by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie) favorite Dominique Pinon, Diva earned César Awards for Beineix, Vladimir Cosma’s (Le Bal) sumptuous music and Philippe Rousselot’s (Henry & June) eye-popping cinematography.

Posters

Theatrical Release: March 11th, 1981

Reviews                                                                                                       More Reviews                                                                                       DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Lions Gate (Meridian - Canada version)  Region 1 - NTSC  vs. Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 

Box Cover

 

 

  

Bonus Captures:

Distribution Lions Gate (Meridian Collection)
Region 1 - NTSC

Anchor Bay

Region 1 - NTSC

Fox Lorber
Region 1 - NTSC
Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:57:36        1:57:36 1:57:21 1:56:57.760 
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.3 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s
 

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.54 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.64:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.12 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1.66:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,670,062,104 bytes

Feature: 36,220,618,752 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.45 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate Meridian:

Bitrate Anchor Bay:

Bitrate Fox Lorber:

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio French (Dolby Digital 1.0) French 5.1 & 2.0. English 5.1 & 2.0 French (Dolby Digital 1.0)

DTS-HD Master Audio French 1555 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1555 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles English, None English, None English, None English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Lions Gate (Canadian version)

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Screen specific commentary by director (but all in French)

• Featurettes - mostly in French - no subs

DVD Release Date: June 3rd, 2008
Keep Case inside cardboard box

Chapters 27

 

Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with Jean-Jacques Beineix (6 min)
• JeanJacques Beineix Bio
• Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: June 12, 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 27

Release Information:
Studio: Fox Lorber

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 1.64:1

Edition Details:
• Production Notes

 

DVD Release Date: November 10th, 1997
Keep Case

Chapters 33  

Release Information:
Studio:
Kino

 

1.66:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 40,670,062,104 bytes

Feature: 36,220,618,752 bytes

Video Bitrate: 37.45 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• NEW Audio Commentary by Film Critic and Author Simon Abrams
• Scene Specific Audio Commentary by Director Jean-Jacques Beineix (41:23)
• Introduction by Professor Phil Powrie (Author of JEAN-JACQUES BEINEIX) and Eric Grinda (6:21)
• Interview with Composer Vladimir Cosma (10:47)
• Interview with Casting Director Dominique Besnehard (7:20)
• Interview with Star Frédéric Andréi (5:47)
• Interview with Actors Anny Romand and Dominique Pinon (12:02)
• Interview with Actor Richard Bohringer (6:55)
• HOLDING GROUND with Director Jean-Jacques Beineix (11:01)
• IN THE CAFÉ with Director Jean-Jacques Beineix (8:33)
• Interview with Cinematographer Philippe Rousselot (6:05)
• Interview with Set Designer Hilton McConnico (6:50)
• Theatrical Trailer (2:52)


Blu-ray Release Date:
August 11th, 2020
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 11

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Kino Blu-ray (July 2020): Kino have transferred Jean-Jacques Beineix's Diva to Blu-ray. The past DVDs had issues - either being digitized, cropped, stretched - we have documented many of those errors in the DVD comparison HERE. It was also on Criterion LaserDisc. So, as well as avoiding the transfer errors of the DVDs - the Kino Blu-ray  has the film in higher resolution looking to be the same source as the Lions Gate and also, although less, slightly horizontally stretched? It is slightly darker, shows more information in the frame and has better grain structure support. It is not a dynamic appearance but the 1080P is sharper and the visuals have depth now. It is a much-appreciated upgrade from SD - it can look a shade clunky but this is the best we are likely to get on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. Colors aren't rich but they are more pure without the digitization issues of the DVDs. Bottom line - best I have seen Diva look.

NOTE: We have added 68 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE.

On their Blu-ray, Kino use a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel track (16-bit) in the original French language. The film's audio does have effects - moped, subway (chase scene), an arcade and aggression. The score is by Vladimir Cosma (The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe). Of course, we have two operatic pieces performed by Wilhelmenia Wiggins Fernandez; Alfredo Catalani's L'air de la 'La Wally' , Charles Gounod's Tous droits réservés and a pastiche of Erik Satie's Gymnopédies composed Cosma. It sounds beautiful in the lossless. Kino offer optional English subtitles on their Region 'A' Blu-ray.

The Kino Blu-ray has all the extras of the US Lions Gate (the introduction by Professor Phil Powrie - author of JEAN-JACQUES BEINEIX, and interviews with many including a two-part-er with Beineix - his first feature as director!) plus there is a new commentary by film critic Simon Abrams (author of Guillermo del Toro's The Devil's Backbone and an admitted Opera fan.) He discusses themes of Diva including technology and art, the 'Cinema du look' genre - as a rejection of French New Wave - see Luc Besson (Subway, The Big Blue, Nikita and Leon) and Leos Carax (Lovers on the Bridge, Mauvais Sang). Diva discussed as a 'Comic Book movie', how the film was ahead of its time, Thuy An Luu (who I believe was only 14 or 15 at the time the film was made but her character is 13 in the book) and he reads many interviews including comments from Pauline Kael and John Simon (ex. negative sexism.) He apologizes for the brief fire-engine siren in the background. I thought it was great - seeing the film on much deeper levels than I was aware.

Many film fans just love Jean-Jacques Beineix's Diva - myself included. I wish it had spawned a whole series of Daniel Odier's eccentric Gorodish and Alba characters in film. It's fun, artsy, sexy and a thriller all at once. The Kino Blu-ray commentary helped me understand by I enjoy 'Cinema du look' so much. The improved a/v and multitude of extras make this essential, imo. A very strong recommendation!

Gary Tooze

ON THE DVDs: ADDITION: Lions Gate - Region 1 - NTSC June 08':

NOTE: My Canadian Lionsgate DVD edition differs from other reviewers in the US. MINE CATEGORICALLY HAS FRENCH ONLY MENUS AND NO ENGLISH (SUB or DUB) ON THE EXTRAS. I obviously received some sort of 'Quebecois' edition but the exclusion of English options is ridiculous.

From IMDb: "Lion's Gate released a DVD (under the "Meridien Collection" banner) in the United States with 6' of deleted shots (all extensions of existing scenes) that were intentionally cut in the original by the director before the initial release, with those deleted shots not as bonus material on the DVD but actually edited back into the film, and advertised on the DVD as a "restored version". The resultant timing was 123'. This is not an official version, but an unauthorized re-editing by a DVD company. The correct timing of the film is 117'25".

The US edition - sold from the links above - DOES indeed have English-friendly options on the supplements. Make sure you get that one not the one sold in Canada.

These excellent extra features include: a scene specific commentary by director Beneix (about 40 minutes worth). Director-writer Beneix speaks in French but there is a clearly audible English voiceover. There is also "Searching for Diva" which consists of the following interviews (some in English but mostly in French with English voice-overs):

  • Introduction by Professor Phil Powrie & Eric Grinda (6:22)
  • Vladimir Cosma (the film's composer) (10:45)
  • Dominique Besnehard (Diva's casting director) (7:19)
  • Frederic Andrei (plays "Jules") (5:46)
  • Anny Romano (plays "Paula") & Dominique Pinon ("Le Curé") (12:01)
  • Richard Bohringer (plays "Gorodish") (6:52)
  • Jean-Jacques Beneix (writer-director), 2 - parts (11:00 + 8:33)
  • Philippe Rousselot (the cinematographer) (6:04)
  • Hilton McConnico (the film's production designer) (6:50)

The edition is worthwhile if only for the supplements - a lot of effort went into them and it is VERY much appreciated. Great for he many fans of the film!

On the image: As for the Lions Gate image - it has obvious manipulation (see zoomed-in edge enhancement capture below) and is cropped with the Anchor  Bay having significantly more information on the right edge. The bitrate is appallingly low and it has lost detail in many sequences. The Anchor Bay shows a bit more noise but the colors are far truer.  the Lionsgate is also horizontally stretched (see below)!

This is a fabulously clandestine/cultish film and the extras are wonderful - it's a shame Lionsgate didn't put the same effort into the image stated as approved by director Jean-Jacques Beineix'. He may have approved the source but not the final encode... but I'm sure he approved the viable supplements. The Anchor Bay is much more authentic to the theatrical appearance but the Lionsgate supplements make it very appealing if only for the scene specific commentary and interviews. I hope we see more of these type of relevant compiled extras in the future from Lionsgate and we wish they were as diligent on the image transfer. 

ON the ANCHOR BAY vs. the Fox/Lorber: This is a pretty easy choice - the newer Anchor Bay is much sharper, anamorphic, has better sound and better Extras. The Fox is interlaced. I see a greenish tinge on the Anchor Bay, but that may be part of the film itself. The Anchor Bay has a little cropping, which I would guess is about 4% in anamorphizing the picture. It is quite negligible. I'll be buying the Anchor Bay myself next order as I quit enjoyed this film.

 - Gary W. Tooze

 


Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


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

 

1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND 

3) Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND 

3) Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND 

3) Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND 

3) Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND 

3) Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


1) Lions Gate (Meridian) Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC - SECOND 

3) Fox Lorber - Region 1 - NTSC THIRD

4) Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE

 

 

 
Box Cover

 

 

  

Bonus Captures:

Distribution Lions Gate (Meridian Collection)
Region 1 - NTSC

Anchor Bay

Region 1 - NTSC

Fox Lorber
Region 1 - NTSC
Kino - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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Gary Tooze

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