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You're Human like the Rest of Them: The Film's of B. S. Johnson
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Blu-ray: REGION FREE
  • DVD: Region 2/PAL
  • Outtakes from Fat Man on a Beach
  • The Johnson Papers (2013): a look at the B S Johnson Archive of the British Library
  • Extensive booklet with new contributions from Jonathan Coe, David Quantick, Bruce Beresford, Michael Bakewell, Dr Julia Jordan & Dan Fox (Frieze)

You're Human like the Rest of Them: The Film's of B. S. Johnson

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: B. S. Johnson
2013 | 160 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £19.99 | Series: BFI Flipside | Edition: #25
BFI Video

Release Date: April 15, 2013
Review Date: April 14, 2013

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SYNOPSIS

Although best known as the ground-breaking author of Albert Angelo, The Unfortunates and Christy Malry's Own Double-Entry, B S Johnson was also the director of a number of extraordinary and daring films. This extensive collection brings his experimental shorts, humorous animation, provocative agitprop and uniquely personal documentary films together for the very first time.


PICTURE

For their 25th release in their Flipside series, BFI presents the films of B. S. Johnson in their release entitled Youíre Human Like the Rest of Them, featuring the films Youíre Human Like the Rest of Them, Up Yours Too Guillaume Apollinaire!, Paradigm, The Unfortunates, Unfair!, March!, Poem, B. S. Johnson on Dr. Samuel Johnson, Not Counting the Savages, and Fat Man on a Beach. Two of the films, The Unfortunates and Not Counting the Savages are only available on the second dual-layer DVD (along with standard-definition versions of the other films) while the remaining film are all available in high-definition 1080p/24hz on the first dual-layer Blu-ray disc. All of the films are presented in the aspect ratio of about 1.33:1.

The Blu-ray is region free and played without issue on my PS3. The DVD, on the other hand, is locked to Region 2.

Though BFI includes a somewhat apologetic set of notes for the transfers they yet again have nothing to be sorry about. Some of the material is in rough condition through no fault of their own, but a majority of the films are in stunning condition and their digital transfers are of the usual high quality one expects from BFI.

Most of the high-definition transfers look pretty spotless actually. All present crisp, clean images with a sharp details and clean edges where the source allows. Some of the films shot on 16mm (like March! and Unfair!) can look a little fuzzy but itís certainly a condition of the source and/or filming. Film grain remains, heavy in some of the films, but is cleanly rendered and looks natural. The black and white films present excellent contrast levels, with deep blacks and distinct gray levels, while the colour films do vary in their presentations: Paradigm for example has striking colours, beautifully saturated and rendered perfectly, while other films like Fat Man on a Beach and Dr. Samuel Johnson have fairly washed out colours. And then you have March! which can look a little over-saturated.

Of the high-definition presentations B.S. Johnson on Dr. Samuel Johnson contains the heaviest amount of damage. As addressed in the notes the print was damaged heavily by mold and this spotty evidence remains. The notes state that they tried to remove the splotches but this introduced noticeable digital artifacts, which they opted against thankfully (I find digital artifacts far more irritating than film damage.) Though the source damage is noticeable the digital transfer makes up for it and the film is certainly still watchable.

The DVD presents standard-definition transfers of all of the films on the Blu-ray, which all look pretty good themselves, just the usual compression noise one would expect when comparing to the high-definition presentations. The DVD also presents The Unfortunates and Not Counting the Savages. Iím assuming these werenít included on the Blu-ray because the source materials would have made it rather pointless: The Unfortunates is sourced from a digibeta and Savages, long considered lost, has been sourced from a Kinescope master. Basically this means that a film camera was pointed at a video monitor to record program as it aired. The Unfortunates, though littered in heavy damage, actually doesnít look too bad, delivering a fairly sharp if faded film. Savages on the other hand looks rather brutal. Unfortunately you get an incredibly fuzzy image, littered with interlacing, drop outs, and warping of the image. Also the original airing was in colour, but alas the camera was pointed at a black and white monitor. This is unfortunate but itís as good as it will get and Iím thankful BFI was able to round this up at least.

In all BFI has yet again outdone themselves, taking a series of films one would think would never see the light of day on Blu-ray and giving them best presentation possible. A truly splendid job!

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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You're Human like the Rest of Them

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You're Human like the Rest of Them

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You're Human like the Rest of Them

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Up Yours Too Guillaume Apollinaire!

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Paradigm

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Paradigm

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Unfair!

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Unfair!

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March!

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March!

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Poem

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B. S. Johnson on Dr. Samuel Johnson

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B. S. Johnson on Dr. Samuel Johnson

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Fat Man on a Beach

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Fat Man on a Beach

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Fat Man on a Beach

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The Unfortunates (DVD Only)

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The Unfortunates (DVD Only)

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Not Counting the Savages (DVD Only)

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Not Counting the Savages (DVD Only)

AUDIO

The films on the Blu-ray are presented in lossless linear PCM 2.0 mono while the films on the DVD are all presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 mono. Theyíre all limited by their source or shooting conditions (particularly the two exclusive films on the DVD) but they come off fine ultimately. Dialogue is a bit flat but easy to hear, and with films like March!, which presents large crowds outside, background noise can drown out some dialogue. Savages easily sounds the roughest, a product of the Kinescope ďprocessĒ but you can still make out dialogue.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The disc contains a couple of features, starting with one-minute worth of mute outtakes from Fat Man on a Beach followed by the 16-minute The Johnson Papers which presents archivist Joanna Norledge going through the archived materials of B. S. Johnson. She presents a number of scripts, notes, dossiers, books, and more, going over the history of a number of films found in this release.

Thatís unfortunately it for disc supplements, but as expected BFI includes one of their wonderful booklets, which starts off with an introduction by Johnsonís son Steve and an essay about Johnson by Jonathan Coe. It then contains essays on each of the films in the set. As usual with BFIís booklets itís a fabulous read and makes up for the lack of much else.

5/10

CLOSING

BFI has saved a film, or in this case set of films, destined to be forgotten by most. They have gone all out and given the films found here some striking filmic transfers that yet again put some big studio transfers to shame. It comes highly recommended.




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