Home Page  
 
 

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English PCM Mono
  • Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Italian PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
  • The Power of Perception, a new visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil's Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study
  • New analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger
  • New interview with writer/director Dario Argento
  • New interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp
  • Limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Dario Argento
1970 | 98 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: Arrow Video
MVD Visual

Release Date: June 20, 2017
Review Date: August 23, 2017

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

Share:

SYNOPSIS

In 1970, young first-time director Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria) made his indelible mark on Italian cinema with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage - a film which redefined the 'giallo' genre of murder-mystery thrillers and catapulted him to international stardom. Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante, We Own the Night), an American writer living in Rome, inadvertently witnesses a brutal attack on a woman (Eva Renzi, Funeral in Berlin) in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help, he grows increasingly obsessed with the incident. Convinced that something he saw that night holds the key to identifying the maniac terrorising Rome, he launches his own investigation parallel to that of the police, heedless of the danger to both himself and his girlfriend Giulia (Suzy Kendall, Spasmo)... A staggeringly assured debut, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage establishes the key traits that would define Argento's filmography, including lavish visuals and a flare for wildly inventive, brutal scenes of violence. With sumptuous cinematography by Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now) and a seductive score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time in the West), this landmark film has never looked or sounded better in this new, 4K-restored limited edition from Arrow Video!"


PICTURE

Dario Argento’s debut feature film, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, receives a new 4K restoration in its full aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 (not the Vittorio Stararo 2.00:1 ratio). The new restoration is presented here on Blu-ray, in a new dual-format edition, with a 1080p/24hz encode on a dual-layer disc. Performed by L’Immagine Ritrovata, Bologna, the restoration was taken from a scan of the 35mm Techniscope 2-perf original camera negative.

This is one of the better looking presentations from Arrow for an Italian giallo, with other titles I’ve viewed presenting heavy yellow tints, harming other areas of the image, particularly black levels. Though there isn’t that heay tint here there is still some crushing going on here in places, and shadow details can get lost in a few low-lit sequences, but I think on the whole both colours and black levels look quite good, aiding in delivering a sharp and clear image. The film does have a generally darker look to it, with a somewhat muted colour scheme, but it still has some pretty vivid bursts of colour thanks to a few blues, bright reds (mostly found in blood), and the yellow jacket of a would-be assassin (and then the yellow jackets of a number of people this assassin tries to blend in with).

The overall encode and restoration, though, are things of beauty. The restoration has really managed to wipe out just about all traces of damage, with only a few minor blemishes remaining. The image also doesn’t show any unnatural digital artifacts and it retains that film look I’ve come to expect from Arrow, right down to the excellent looking film grain. It’s a sharp, lovely looking image.

8/10

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.

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

AUDIO

Arrow includes two lossless PCM mono tracks and both are about the same in terms of quality. Both tracks were dubbed over in some way so both have a bit of a detached feel in regards to spoken dialogue, and I’d say dialogue is a bit flat as well. But neither track presents any significant damage and they’re free of distortion.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Arrow’s limited edition (sporting a nice slip box, poster, and booklet) comes loaded with special features, starting with a new audio commentary featuring Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films. It’s a fairly fun track that manages to cover a lot of ground around the film and the giallo genre. He gives a highly detailed overview of the film’s production (interestingly, for me at least, Argento had no plans to direct his script for the film) and gives wonderful detailed backgrounds to the actors that pop up in the film. He then talks about Argento’s career as a whole, admitting that his current films are nowhere near as good as his older ones, providing some examples. Impressively Howarth keeps the track going and nicely moves from one topic to another naturally. It’s a good track.

Black Gloves and Screaming Mimis is a new video essay by critic Kat Ellinger, offering a look at the film and how it fits into the giallo genre, as well as its relation to a story by Frederic Brown called The Screaming Mimi. Ellinger makes comparisons to the novel, pointing out the similarities and what has been changed, and other than some character motivations the book and film are really close to one another, at least according to this. It even brings up another adaptation of the book. Ellinger also goes over some of the common giallo elements, including archetypes, and even points out aspects uncommon for the time, particularly the film’s treatment of homosexual characters. It makes for a rather engaging 32-minutes.

There’s another visual essay, this time by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, called The Power of Perception which focuses on a common thread in Argento’s films revolving around characters looking to solve something they see or misinterpreting what they see. The 21-minute segment is nicely put together but it is loaded with spoilers not just for this film but a number of Argento’s other films including Cat O’ Nine Tails, Four Flies on Gray Velvet, Suspiria, and Deep Red, so if you’re planning on checking those ones out and haven’t yet I highly recommend skipping this one.

Dario Argento provides a new 31-minute interview for this edition under the heading Crystal Nightmare. Argento talks specifically about this film and its production, from his script to the film’s multiple releases (its initial release didn’t do all that well after being buried by the studio). This being his first film all of the execs behind the film were unsure of him and he came close to being fired at least once. His inexperience also could make things tense when working with others as demonstrated in his story of suggesting to Ennio Morricone that he should listen to music samples to get an idea of the score he wanted (apparently Morricone wasn’t impressed by this suggestion). The film was mostly a learning experience, with Storaro helping him a lot along the way and that stigma of him being a newcomer more than likely led to the film being buried by the studio before being rediscovered. Argento isn’t the most energetic speaker but he manages to keep it engaging and he comes off very forthcoming.

An Argento Icon is a bit of an out-of-left-field interview addition and I’m seriously impressed Arrow went to the trouble of getting it. In his commentary Howarth mentions one actor, Gildo Di Marco, who he couldn’t track down much information on since he disappeared from the movies shortly after this one. Well, Arrow has found him and we get a rather wonderful interview out of the man. Di Marco talks about being discovered and making his way into a couple of Argento’s films before explaining why he disappeared from the movies. He shares a few stories about this film and others he worked on. Despite being a bit of an outsider and not much of a career outside of a handful of films Di Marco still offers a rather wonderful account of what it was like working with Argento and within the Italian film industry of the time. Really great addition.

The next feature is an interview with actor Eva Renzi, recorded in 2005 just before her death. This interview really blew me away. It’s only 11-minutes long but it is easily one of the best interviews I’ve seen. It starts out sounding like a fairly basic career spanning discussion but Renzi doesn’t sugarcoat things at all, talking about the mistakes she has made, how she has been screwed over in the business (from her husband talking her out of one role to Harry Salzman blocking her career after she decided she didn’t want to be a “fucking Bond girl” in one of his films), and how she feels The Bird with the Crystal Plumage probably killed her career. Though she actually has wonderful things to say about Argento she was not impressed with her costar, Tony Musante (comments in the included booklet seem to confirm he was a bit of an ass to everyone so), and she even shares some unkind words about Klaus Kinski, who she describes as “very unpleasant” (this is mentioned after the main part of the interview, added as a sort of Easter egg). The best part is that while Renzi is being completely honest she’s not being mean spirited in any way and never comes off bitter, but just wants to point out how difficult it can be for women in the industry. It’s an absolutely fantastic interview.

The disc then closes with a number of theatrical trailers for the film, including the Italian trailer, and international trailer (which I think is the same as the Italian but is missing a narrator) and then a 55-second trailer made for the 2017 Texas Frightmare media event.

This being a limited edition Arrow adds on a few other bells and whistles. First the release comes in a nice looking (and sturdy) cardboard sleeve, accompanied by a large 32-page booklet featuring three excellent essays: one on the film and the Argento’s “Italian Hitchcock” moniker, written by Michael Mackenzie; another by Howard Hughes on the film’s place alongside other giallo films; and then the third by Jack Seabrook about the film as an adaptation of The Screaming Mimi. They also include a reversible poster featuring the new artwork on one side and an English language poster on the other, and 6 lobby card reproductions.

Overall Arrow’s special edition offers a rather wonderful set of supplements with a nice mix of production-centric and scholarly material. It should please both fans of the film and giallo, as well as newcomers to the film and sub-genre.

9/10

CLOSING

A really terrific special edition for the film. This sharp looking release comes packed with some wonderful and engaging supplements as well as an impressive new restoration and presentation. It comes very highly recommended!




Share: 



Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca  




Join our Facebook Group (requires Facebook account)

This site is not affiliated with The Criterion Collection