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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Italian PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New interview with film scholar Sam Rohdie
  • The Secret Humiliation of Chaucer (2006), a documentary by Chiesi about The Canterbury Tales
  • New interviews with production designer Dante Ferretti and composer Ennio Morricone
  • Trailers
  • Pasolini-approved English-dubbed track

The Canterbury Tales

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Pier Paolo Pasolini
1972 | 111 Minutes | Licensor: MGM Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $69.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #633
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: November 13, 2012
Review Date: November 28, 2012

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SYNOPSIS

Eight of Geoffrey Chaucer's lusty tales come to life on-screen in Pasolini's gutsy and delirious The Canterbury Tales, which was shot in England and offers a remarkably earthy re-creation of the medieval era. From the story of a nobleman struck blind after marrying a much younger and ultimately promiscuous bride to a climactic trip to a hell populated by friars and demons (surely one of the most outrageously conceived and realized sequences ever committed to film), this is an unendingly imaginative work of merry blasphemy, framed by Pasolini's portrayal of Chaucer himself.

Forum members rate this film 9/10

 

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PICTURE

The Canterbury Tales, the second feature in Pier Paolo Pasoliniís Trilogy of Life, is presented in its original aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 on the second dual-layer disc of Criterionís new box set for the trilogy. The film is presented in a new 1080p/24hz high-definition digital transfer.

Itís a notch below the lovely transfer Criterion delivered in their Blu-ray of the first film in the trilogy, The Decameron, but a slight notch. We still get a very film-like presentation, yet again delivering some wonderful looking colours with some particularly striking reds, and excellent definition with a high level of detail. Film grain is yet again nicely rendered, though some minor bits of noise are more noticeable here and there in its rendering. There are a few moments that also come off a bit softer in comparison to the rest of the film but this looks to be an issue in the source materials and not a problem with the transfer.

The print is in excellent condition with a few minor blemishes noticeable during the first two-thirds of the film. The last bit of the film presents a pretty pesky tram-line that keeps popping in and out. Past this and the other minor problems itís still a genuinely pleasing looking transfer.

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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AUDIO

Criterion delivers two tracks with this one. The default is the Italian track presented in lossless linear PCM 1.0 mono. The second track is Pasoliniís approved English track, presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono.

The Italian track is a bit clearer and sharper than the alternate track but I think both manage to sound rather pleasant. Dialogue in both is clear and articulate, and music has some decent range. Distortion isnít an issue and the tracks donít present any noticeable damage. Both are a little flat, though, and lack fidelity.

As to which to go with will come down to personal preference. If the Italian has one issue itís the fact it has been obviously dubbed over, so lips never match dialogue and it can feel a bit detached from the feature. The English track on the other hand is a bit better in this regard as the voices match the lip movements since the film, which was shot primarily in England, was made with primarily English actors speaking in English during filming. But in terms of quality theyíre both pretty good, with the Italian edging out the English one ever so slightly.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Currently only available in Criterionís Trilogy of Life box set, the disc for The Canterbury Tales presents a number of features about the film, the trilogy, and the director. The first feature is a 14-minute interview with film scholar Sam Rohdie. The interview, about The Canterbury Tales, concentrates on Pasoliniís obsession with the past and the comic aspects of the film, particularly a sequence that pays homage to Chaplin and silent comedy, and then the almost absurd final sequence in Hell. He even mentions comic aspects to other films by the director, including Salo. Not an excessively insightful interview but it offers some decent insights into the filmís humour.

Next is a 47-minute documentary from 2005 entitled Pasolini and the Secret Humiliation of Chaucer, which looks a little at the making of the film but eventually focuses on the many edits the film went through and all of the footage deleted (all now lost of course,) which included one entire sequence and then about 20 scenes from the other stories. It looks at the various cuts that were made before it finally premiered for the jury at the Berlin Film Festival, and then offers an edit of sorts for the removed sequence using photos and translations of the script. A little long yet not all that engaging when it looks at some of the production, itís worth watching just for the material on the deleted sequences.

Criterion then includes the filmís English language inserts as a supplement. Pasolini had also made an English language version of the film he had approved of, the alternate English track being included on this release. For this version he had to replace most of the scenes that showed Italian writing with similar shots featuring English writing. Criterion collects 55-seconds of material for this. As to why they didnít just edit it into the main feature utilizing seamless branching when the English version was selected I canít say, but I appreciate the inclusion of the material here, which is in very good condition.

Criterion has then recorded two new interviews. First is a 9-minute one featuring composer Ennio Morricone who recalls working with Pasolini. Interestingly he talks about how he usually hates it when a director tells him what they want, but with Pasolini, who usually gave Morricone free reign, he didnít mind taking directions, as was the case with the trilogy. Production designer Dante Ferretti then talks about the set designs constructed for the film, and the various paintings that were influences on certain sequences. His interview runs 18-minutes

The disc then closes with three theatrical trailers. The booklet included with the box set contains some material on the film as well.

The lengthier documentary did little for me, though I appreciated the look into the deleted material from the film, but the remaining features, if not very deep, were all informative and worth viewing.

7/10

CLOSING

Another strong disc in the Trilogy of Life box set, delivering a solid video transfer and another assortment of insightful supplements.


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