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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Italian DTS-HD 5.1 Surround
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES
  • Conversation between Sorrentino and Italian cultural critic Antonio Monda
  • New interview with actor Toni Servillo
  • New interview with screenwriter Umberto Contarello
  • Deleted scenes
  • Trailer

The Great Beauty

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Paolo Sorrentino
Starring: Toni Servillo, Carlo Verdone, Sabrina Ferilli, Carlo Buccirosso, Iaia Forte
2013 | 141 Minutes | Licensor: Medusa Film

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #702
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: March 25, 2014
Review Date: March 25, 2014

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SYNOPSIS

For decades, journalist Jep Gambardella has charmed and seduced his way through the glittering nightlife of Rome. Since the legendary success of his only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the city's literary and elite social circles. But on his sixty-fifth birthday, Jep unexpectedly finds himself taking stock of his life, turning his cutting wit on himself and his contemporaries, and looking past the lavish nightclubs, parties, and cafťs to find Rome itself, in all its monumental glory: a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty. Featuring sensuous cinematography, a lush score, and an award-winning central performance by the great Toni Servillo, this transporting experience by the brilliant Italian director Paolo Sorrentino is a breathtaking Fellini-esque tale of decadence and lost love.

Forum members rate this film 8.5/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Paolo Sorrentinoís The Great Beauty, the 2014 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Film, makes its North American home video debut on a new dual-format edition through The Criterion Collection. Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the film receives a 1080p/24hz high-definition transfer on the dual-layer Blu-ray disc, while the first dual-layer DVD delivers a standard definition transfer enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Since itís such a new film I canít say I was shocked at how great this ended up looking. The digital transfer, the source of which was the original 35mm negative (yes, this was actually shot on film,) delivers what is ultimately a clean and natural representation. The image is sharp, with a stunning amount of detail delivered in every shot, delivering an outstanding sense of depth and textures. Colours bring excellent saturation, with reds looking particularly bold, without any sign bleeding, and black levels are rich without any crushing.

The transfer is free of any noticeable artifacts. Film grain is very fine and looks entirely natural, with nary an instance of pixilation, and edges around objects are cleanly defined. I donít recall a single blemish at all throughout the filmís running time, though since the film is so new I was pretty much expecting this to be the case.

The DVDís transfer is noticeably weaker in comparison to the Blu-ray, but only because of limitations of the format. Detail isnít as sharp and compression is a more noticeable problem, but itís still about as good as one can expect from a DVD presentation.

In the end it looks great, with the Blu-rayís delivery coming off far more natural and filmic.

10/10

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AUDIO

The filmís 5.1 surround track, presented in DTS-HD MA on the Blu-ray and Dolby Digital on the DVD, is a startlingly active one. Even the quieter more reflective moments in the film deliver some excellent surround effects, whether it be elements in nature like the wind blowing through trees or birds chirping in the distance. Clubbing and partying sequences are of course where the track predominantly shines, filling the environment with techno music with an effective, yet never over-bearing use of bass, and a superb use of direction through the speakers, putting you right in the middle of the party it would seem. Most importantly these sequences donít seem to drown out anything else, but of course since most North American audiences will be watching the Italian language films with subtitles, this probably wouldnít have been too much of an issue to begin with.

Audio quality is sharp, lacking any sign of distortion or damage, and range is superb. The DTS-HD track is noticeably sharper than the Dolby Digital track, and actually delivers more subtleties, specifically in the partying sequences. But both still deliver rather immersive experiences that goes above and beyond what I would have expected from the film.

9/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Since itís a new film I canít say I was too surprised to find very little in the analytical side of things here, yet I somehow still came away from the extras very disappointed.

The extras are primarily made up of interviews, the lengthiest one being an interview between Antonio Monda and director Paolo Sorrentino. Running at 38-minutes the two talk a little about Sorrentinoís career up to The Great Beauty, with Monda recalling how he first came across the filmmakerís work. From there the two talk a little more specifically about his latest film, covering the themes and politics that can be found in it and throughout his other films, and mention similarities to Felliniís La dolce vita. Itís rather lengthy and it can be a bit dry, but itís really the only substantial supplement to be found on this set, offering a decent primer on the film and Sorrentinoís career.

Following this are two far shorter interviews, the first of which is a 13-minute interview with actor Toni Servillo. For 13-minutes the actor talks about working with Sorrentino (heís worked on a number of films with him) and how the two get along. He also talks a bit about the character of Jep, and how he sees him, simply as a man keeping one foot in high-society and the other elsewhere. Screenwriter Umberto Cantarello then speaks for 12-minutes about writing the film, with the film intending to be about Rome, developing the character of Jep, and also compares it (yet again) to Felliniís La dolce vita.

Admittedly I was really struggling in taking anything of real substance out of these interviews. They are harmless viewing and enjoyable enough but other than maybe some of the analysis between Monda and Sorrentino I took very little out of all of this.

The disc also includes a deleted scene and a montage of deleted footage that looks like it was put together for marketing. The less-than 3-minute deleted scene involves Jep interviewing an aging director (with the suggestion heís about as old as Manoel de Oliveira,) who goes over his ďgreat beauty.Ē Unfortunately the 2-minute montage we get suggests some other interesting footage was cut but we only get a taste. Thereís a bit more with the director (which is actually fairly funny) and then a series of quick edits, with the most intriguing addition possibly being a further subplot involving the stripper Jep befriends. Other bits seem to be alternate shots from parties or extensions to other scenes.

The disc then closes with the filmís American theatrical trailer. The included booklet features a decent essay on the film and Sorrentinoís work by Phillip Lopate.

For the DVD all supplements are found on the second single-layer disc, with the first disc devoted solely to the film.

Itís a new film of course, but considering all of the praise and awards thrown at it I would have expected a more analytical perspective to be provided for the release. I guess the Sorrentino interview adds some value, yet as it stands it still feels like a fairly general DVD/Blu-ray edition.

5/10

CLOSING

The transfer is unsurprisingly great, looking bright with excellent definition, and the surround track delivers a surprisingly active mix, with superb range and volume levels. Unfortunately I found the supplements as a whole quite underwhelming and the release feels no different than what Iím sure any other studio would have done.


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