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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New interviews with director Liliana Cavani and screenwriters Barbara Alberti and Amedeo Pagani
  • Women of the Resistance, a fifty-minute 1965 documentary by Cavani, composed of interviews with female partisans who survived the German invasion of Italy, with an intro by the filmmaker

The Night Porter

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Liliana Cavani
Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Dirk Bogarde, Philippe Leroy, Gabriele Ferzetti
1974 | 113 Minutes | Licensor: Cinecitta

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #59
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: December 9, 2014
Review Date: December 4, 2014

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SYNOPSIS

In this unsettling drama from Italian filmmaker Liliana Cavani, a concentration camp survivor (Charlotte Rampling) discovers her former torturer and lover ( Dirk Bogarde) working as a porter at a hotel in postwar Vienna. When the couple attempt to re-create their sadomasochistic relationship, his former SS comrades begin to stalk them. Operatic and disturbing, The Night Porter deftly examines the lasting social and psychological effects of the Nazi regime.

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Liliana Cavaniís The Night Porter receives a much needed upgrade from Criterion, who present the film in its original aspect ratio of about 1.85:1 on a dual-layer disc. The new transferómade from a mix of the original 35mm negative and a 35mm interpositiveóis presented in 1080p/24hz.

Though a marked improvement over the old non-anamorphic DVD, I guess Iím a little mixed on this new presentation. Itís certainly sharper than the old DVD, with finer details and textures coming through far clearer. Edges are sharp and well-defined, and all of the compression noise, jagged edges, edge-enhancement, and other artifacts found on the old transfer are all gone, with the transfer looking more natural and filmic in nature.

The print is much cleaner, though some of the hairs and other bits of debris noticeable at the edges of the frame in the previous DVD are still there, suggesting these were present during filming. The film is fairly grainy, getting heavier at times, but itís not distracting and thankfully looks naturally rendered, and I didnít notice any clumping or blocky patterns.

Where Iím unsure about the transfer is admittedly the colour presentation. I have a feeling that the colour scheme here is closer to what was intended, but they do have a washed out look to them. Some sequences, primarily flashbacks, have a greenish tinge to them as well. Itís certainly a dreary looking film, even drearier than the DVD but considering the filmís subject matter Iím sure itís intentional. Where Iím mostly bothered, though, are the black levels. They look okay generally speaking, but shadow delineation can be rather lousy, with details consistently getting crushed out. This can really throw off the balance in some scenes of the sequences.

In all the transfer is significantly better than the DVD, so for those stuck with that disc the Blu-ray is certainly worth getting for the upgrade, though I was still disappointed with a couple of aspects of it.

8/10

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AUDIO

The filmís mono track is presented in lossless linear 1.0 PCM. Itís not a show track at all, and is a bit flat but fidelity is noticeably better in comparison to the DVD, and both dialogue and music sounds better. The track has also been cleaned up a bit more and noise and damage isnít a concern.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterionís previous DVD had no special features other than a short and disappointing essay by Annette Insdorf. Criterion more or less remedies that here with a couple of supplements. The big one would probably be Cavaniís 1965 made-for-television documentary Women of the Resistance. The 50-minute documentary goes over the women fighters that were involved in the Italian resistance, giving a great overview over their contributions to the cause. Cavani also manages to get a number of first-hand accounts from survivors. Itís an absolutely fascinating documentary, though quite harrowing at times: the film opens with letters condemned women write to their loved ones, knowing they are about to die, and then some of the firsthand accounts, particularly when we get to a portion about the torture the women had to endure when captured, leaves an impression. Thereís also some details about various missions they participated in, including one involving the attempt to break out prisoners, as well as some battles. Itís a great documentary, nicely assembled together, showing an aspect of the resistance rarely shown. Itís disappointing Criterion doesnít include other TV documentaries by Cavani.

(The documentary is also accompanied by an introduction by Cavani, running about 5-minutes. She simply covers how the project came to be while also recalling the impact of some of the interviews.)

Criterion also includes a new interview with director Liliana Cavani. I was really looking forward to this feature but it turned out to be a big letdown. Running only 8-minutes Cavani simply talks about the production, going over casting (interestingly she had considered casting Mia Farrow in the role that eventually went Charlotte Rampling) and talks about the filmís photography and the ending. She also talks a little about the reactions to the film, with the Catholic Church reacting most poorly to it (not surprisingly I guess) and then expresses some annoyance at how some critics seem to indicate Ramplingís character is Jewish (sheís actually not and is the daughter of a social activist, Cavani trying to show that there were a number of people of different types terrorized by the Nazis). Itís a somewhat disappointing interview, only touching the surface of the film. I think I was hoping for something a little more in-depth.

Insdorfís essay doesnít get carried over but the included fold out features a new essay by Gaetana Marrone on the film that I found quite a bit more satisfying in its analysis of the film and Cavaniís work. Thereís also the reprint of a more satisfying interview performed with Cavani, that was done for the magazine Films and Filming in 1975, where she talks more about the filmís themes and subject matter.

Overall, though an improvement over Criterionís barebones DVD, itís a disappointing set of supplements. The insert provides some decent analysis and the included documentary is a great inclusion, but I guess I was hoping for a more scholarly slant to a film that can easily divide audiences.

5/10

CLOSING

The new Blu-ray certainly improves over the old DVD in every way, with better audio and video, as well as some supplementary material, but the presentation still looks a little off, at least in blacks, and the film still seems to be open to more scholarly materials. Worth the upgrade for sure, but still a bit disappointing.


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