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Bill Douglas Trilogy
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Bill Douglas: Intent of Getting the Image (2006, 63 minutes), a new documentary about Bill Douglas' work
  • Come Dancing (1970, 15 minutes), Bill Douglas' remarkable student short
  • Archive interview with Bill Douglas
  • Illustrated booklet containing newly commissioned essays, notes and credits

Bill Douglas Trilogy

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Bill Douglas
2009 | 175 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £24.99 | Series: BFI
BFI Video

Release Date: July 27, 2009
Review Date: August 6, 2009

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SYNOPSIS

My Childhood (1972, 48 mins) My Ain Folk (1973, 55 mins) My Way Home (1978, 72 mins)

Douglas's magnificent, award-winning Trilogy is the product of an assured, formidable artistic vision. These are some of the most compelling films about childhood ever made.

Presented here in a High-Definition restoration, the Trilogy follows Jamie (played with heart-breaking conviction by Stephen Archibald) as he grows up in a poverty-stricken mining village in post-war Scotland. This is a cinematic poetry: Douglas contracted his subject matter to the barest essentials - dialogue is kept to a minimum, and field, slag heaps and cobbled streets are shot in bleak monochrome, yet with its unexpected humour and warmth, the Trilogy brims with clear-eyed humanity, and affection for an ultimately triumphant young boy.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

BFI Video presents Bill Douglasís Trilogy (which includes the films My Childhood, My Ain Folk, and My Way Home) in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1 of the dual-layer Blu-ray disc of this 2-disc set. The image is presented in 1080p. While the first disc is an all-region Blu-ray disc that should play on all players worldwide, the second disc with special features is a single-layer DVD that is locked for region 2 (the content is also in a PAL format.)

All three films look very good considering the shape of the source and yet again BFI Video have outdone themselves. The transfer isnít perfect, limited more because of the condition of the source materials, but itís certainly sharper and cleaner than I ever would have expected.

The first film, My Childhood, is the most problematic, coming from a 16mm source. It presents the most damage and is certainly grainier than the other films. It can also look a little soft and faded with plenty of flickering. The other films come from 35mm sources so they look a lot sharper with more detail, and grain is still present, though not as heavy as the first film.

The transfers all look sharp and present an excellent amount of detail. My only issue was that I felt contrast was boosted a little too much, blacks looking a little too deep and whites almost blinding at times. Otherwise itís a solid high-def presentation.

(Screen grabs have been provided by DVD Beaver. The below grabs have been downscaled from their original source but they should still provide a general idea of picture quality.)

7/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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My Childhood

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My Childhood

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My Ain Folk

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My Ain Folk

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My Ain Folk

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My Ain Folk

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My Way Home

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My Way Home

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My Way Home

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My Way Home

AUDIO

Lossless mono tracks accompany all three films. They sound clean but are fairly weak. Dialogue sounds just fine; I will admit I did have some issues with the accents (Iím thankful for the subtitles.) Altogether theyíre fine for the film.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

BFI unfortunately has put all of their supplements on single-layer DVD thatís region 2 locked with the content in PAL, which may be an issue for those that pick up the disc in North America (again the Blu-ray disc is region free.)

First on the disc is Bill Douglas: Intent on Getting the Image, a 63-minute 2006 documentary on the director. Itís a decent documentary but in comparison to the documentary found on BFIís Comrades release this certainly pales. It gathers together interviews with various friends and acquaintances (including Peter Jewell again,) going through his life showing how it influenced his work. It is a decent documentary that covers more of his work than the doc on Comrades did (even looking at his film school work) and then focusing on the production of his Trilogy, and then thereís still a bit about Comrades.

Interview with Bill Douglas is a 4-minute interview featuring Douglas talking about the Trilogy, surprisingly stating he never intended people to know it was autobiographical, though after director Lindsay Anderson saw the script he figured it out and was the one who suggested the title of My Childhood. It unfortunately closes on a downer note, since Douglas would pass away well too soon, where he asked about his future plans, which did include possibly making more films that would continue the Trilogy. Too short but still an excellent interview.

Mentioned in the documentary and included here is Douglasí 13-minute short student film Come Dancing. I was rather surprised it was a student film as it seems fairly confident and Douglas has definite feel for his style. I donít want to give away too much about the story, except it involves a man possibly trying to ďpick upĒ another man. Itís actually quite good and it didnít really go a route I was fully expecting. An interesting look at Douglas building his techniques early on. Also nice is that BFI have seen fit to give this feature a progressive transfer as opposed to an interlaced transfer like the other supplements here. It doesnít look like itís received much of a restoration but the image is still fairly sharp.

And we yet again get another wonderful booklet from BFI, which includes a wonderful piece about Bill and his work by Peter Jewell, his longtime friend, which leads up to a poem he wrote for the 10 year anniversary of his death. You also get an essay on the trilogy by John Caughie, another on the structure of the films by Matthew Flanagan. Also included are biographies for director Bill Douglas and actor Stephen Archibald, the young boy in all three films. It then concludes with notes on features that appear in this release.

Not as good as what we got with Comrades but a decent extension. But I was so happy to see more of Bill Douglasí work, a director I wasnít altogether that familiar with but whose work I now have a strong fondness for.

6/10

CLOSING

A nice set that I think is worth picking up, even if youíre in North America and donít have all-region capabilities for the DVD supplements. The films are all wonderful works and are alone worth owning, and BFI Video has yet again pulled off wonderful high-def transfers for these films. A high recommendation.




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