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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Conversation between Jean-Pierre Gorin and Pedro Costa
  • Theatrical Trailer

Colossal Youth


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Pedro Costa
2006 | 156 Minutes | Licensor: Bazar do Video

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $79.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #511
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: March 30, 2010
Review Date: March 25, 2010

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SYNOPSIS

Many of the lost souls of Ossos and In Vanda's Room return in the spectral landscape of Colossal Youth, which brings to Pedro Costa's Fontainhas films a new theatrical, tragic grandeur. This time, Costa focuses on Ventura, an elderly immigrant from Cape Verde living in a low-cost housing complex in Lisbon, who has been abandoned by his wife and spends his days visiting his neighbors, whom he considers his "children." What results is a form of ghost story, a tale of derelict, dispossessed people living in the past and present at the same time, filmed by Costa with empathy and startling radiance.

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PICTURE

Currently only available in North America through Criterionís new box set, Letters From Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa, Colossal Youth is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on the third dual-layer disc of the 4-disc set. The image has not been window boxed.

Costa, similar to how he shot In Vandaís Room, used a digital camera to film Colossal Youth and since it has been filmed in standard definition digital itís safe to assume that this is about as good as itís going to get. According to the booklet colour correction is about the only thing to have been applied to the transfer (which has been approved by Costa) and they do look rather striking here despite the overall lack of it. Whites are particularly bright and blacks are on and off throughout, looking fairly deep in some sequences and crushed in darker, low lit scenes. Thereís a couple of scenes where the sky looks black, though Iím unsure if this is intentionalóan attempt at day-for-night maybeóor just an artifact from filming.

The image also looks to be progressive, as opposed to the interlaced image for In Vandaís Room. Artifacts are fewer or at least not as distracting here, trailing and compression artifacts like edge-enhancement and noise being the more noticeable offenders, but this is more than likely in the source. Since itís a long film itís possible some of the artifacts come from the compression in putting the film on the disc, but I doubt more room would make much of a difference. In all it actually does look a bit better than In Vandaís Room, yet I canít say if itís because the film is significantly brighter than that one or if itís because Costa may have been using a newer camera, which I do suspect. Whatever the case may be it does look a touch better than that previous film but is still limited by its source.

6/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The stereo Portuguese track presented here is quite a bit better than the track presented on In Vandaís Room. That filmís stereo track was limited by the source, which was recorded generally from the cheaper microphone on the digital camera. Iím unsure if Costa used a better camera with a better built-in microphone here or the shoot allowed for better audio, but voices sound far better on this track than on In Vandaís Room, even if they still have that hollow echo in them. Sound effects and the occasional bit of music also sound pretty good, but like the previous film this is probably material put in post-production. Itís not an astounding track, still limited by the source elements and conditions of the shoot, but itís a noticeable improvement over the previous filmís audio presentation.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterionís box set Letters From Fontainhas: Three Films by Pedro Costa includes a large wealth of supplements spread across its four discs, with one lone disc devoted completely to supplements. Other supplements have been spread across the other three discs, focusing specifically (for the most part) on their respective films. This supplement review refers specifically to the supplements found on the third disc featuring Colossal Youth and not to the supplements found on the other discs in the set.

Colossal Youth comes with only one supplement, forgetting the trailer, a continuation of the interview between Jean-Pierre Gorin and Pedro Costa, which has been spread across the first three discs of the box set. This one, running 23-minutes, felt to be the least significant of the series, though no less worthwhile. Costa explains his intent behind the film and how he came to use Ventura as the main character. He talks about the changes in the neighbourhood and how thatís effected the residents, including the new apartments, and then of course talks again about the conditions of this particular shoot, the opening and ending, and even has a particularly horrific story about a resident that set his apartment on fire, which he would use as a setting for one scene. Gorin is again primarily the interviewer and only throws a few comments in here and there with the odd question. This is purely Costaís show and he again offers some decent insight into his technique and this particular film. Along with the other interviews in the set itís worth viewing and wraps them up fairly well.

The disc then closes with a theatrical trailer for the film, which looks to come from Japan, though Iím sure someone will correct me if Iím wrong.

The least loaded of the set, but I did like the interview. It should also be worth noting that the box setís fourth disc does come with a selected scene commentary for this film.

(The grade below reflects the supplements found only on this disc and not the set as a whole. The set also comes with a 44-page booklet.)

4/10

CLOSING

The box set is a fantastic release and those familiar with Costa and fond of his work shouldnít even think twice about picking this one up. Those unfamiliar with Costaís work, though, will certainly want to give his films a rental first. Even those who appreciate slower films may find them maddening.

Colossal Youth is another beautifully made film by Costa, and his work with the digital medium is certainly impressive. Itís still not an easy film to view but found I was more involved with this film and its characters than I was with In Vandaís Room. Itís quite the striking and intriguing portrait of the neighbourhood, its changes, and its inhabitants.

As to the disc the source materials limit the overall look, but Criterionís presentation is fine and I feel this is about as good as it gets in look and sound, and the additional interview segment between Costa and Gorin does wrap up their discussion throughout the set rather nicely.


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