Great Beauty, The (La Grande Bellezza) (Blu-ray) (2013)

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Released 4-Jun-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Palace Films releases x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 140:58
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paolo Sorrentino
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Toni Servillo
Carlo Verdone
Sabrina Ferilli
Giovanna Vignola
Carlo Buccirosso
Galatea Ranzi
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Lele Marchitelli


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, a long glide up the Tiber

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Plot Synopsis

†††† The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) begins with the death of an elderly Japanese tourist in Rome and a loud party. The party is to celebrate the 65th birthday of Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo). Forty years ago Jep had published a successful novel and come to Rome; since that time he has lived in an apartment opposite the Coliseum and enjoyed the decadent high life of parties, women and events. But amid this beauty he has not written another novel and instead he works as a writer for a magazine. Jepís 65th birthday and the news that his first love, who abandoned him 35 years ago but had apparently never forgotten him, had died causes Jep to re-evaluate this life.

†††† The Great Beauty is a film about life, ambition, morality, the passing of time, love, death, beauty and art. Art abounds in Rome in many forms and the film shows a diverse range: a woman who, naked, runs and butts her head against a stone aqueduct, the young girl who publically tosses paint against a canvass, a knife thrower who creates a painting by piercing paint filled balloons around a womanís torso, performance strippers, a struggling playwright and an exhibition of pictures, one taken every single day of an manís life since childhood. And lying behind everything is the ageless beauty of the artworks, statues, buildings and galleries of the Eternal City.

†††† Through this great beauty travels Jep, talking and drinking with his circle of friends, making love, attending parties, exhibitions, funerals and a wedding as well as looking up an old friend. The Great Beauty is essentially plotless but each encounter adds something to Jepís, and our, understanding of the human condition, of loves lost and ambition unfulfilled. As Jep Toni Servillo is wonderful: he is grizzled, constantly smoking, sad and reflective, caustic and blunt with those who practice pretence and affectation and he is seldom off screen, holding the various episodes together effortlessly. Because of this episodic nature, the other characters flit in an out of Jepís life but some who make an impact include his friend and budding playwright Romano (Carlo Verdone), aging stripper and daughter of an old friend Romana (Sabrina Ferilli) and his female editor Dadina (Giovanna Vignola). Other plusses within the film are the exquisite photography of Rome by Luca Bigazzi and the music of Lele Marchitelli to which were added numerous beautiful classical and choral pieces.

†††† The Great Beauty won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2014, and for good measure won the Golden Globe and BAFTA awards in the same category. The awards are deserved; it is a wonderful, hypnotic film, sumptuous and very European, beautifully shot, scored and acted, a feast for the mind, the ears and the eyes.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† The Great Beauty is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† A lot of The Great Beauty takes place at night and as well director Paolo Sorrentino and cinematographer Luca Bigazzi have chosen a dark colour palate and look for the film. The result is some shots that are exquisite, such as the iconic buildings of Rome and statues lit and standing out from the blackness, but many other scenes are intentionally dark so that the backgrounds and shadow detail are indistinct. Elsewhere however detail is crisp, colours deep and natural, blacks completely solid, skin tones good, contrast and brightness consistent.

†††† Apart from some slight aliasing I did not notice any marks or artefacts.

††††Burnt in English subtitles are in an easy to read white font. They seemed to be timely and error free.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† Audio is an Italian DTS-HD MA 5.1 track.

†††† This is a loud and enveloping audio track. Dialogue was clear, except at loud parties, and centred. The surrounds and rears were used extensively for ambient effects such as birds, insects, running water in fountains, the wind, childrenís voices and voices in crowds and the music. Indeed, the music in the party scenes was intentionally very, very loud. The subwoofer added bass mostly to the music, especially the party music.

††††Lip synchronisation was fine.

†††† The original score by Lele Marchitelli was an essential part of the film, sad and reflective in places, loud in others. It was supported effectively by a wide range of classical, pop and choral pieces.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Backstage (15:45)

†††† A very elegant and artistically shot behind the scenes short film. It has no interviews or dialogue, but includes on set footage, split screens showing rehearsals and film footage, and other split screens with on set and film footage, all accompanied by the filmís music. Rome looks beautiful!

Theatrical Trailer (2:04)

More from Palace Films (9:14)

†††† Trailers for The Gilded Cage, Stories We Tell, After May and Tabu.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† Our Region B release of The Great Beauty is identical to the Region B UK version. However, the Region A US version is a Criterion release which includes interviews with Paulo Sorrentino (37:59), Toni Servillo (12:35) and co-screenwriter Umberto Contarello (11:44) plus deleted scenes (2:46) and the theatrical trailer. Our extra is quite good, but some information about the film from those involved would be well worthwhile.

Summary

†††† The Great Beauty is a wonderful film about life, ambition, morality, love, death, beauty and art. It is beautifully shot in and around Rome, the score is wonderful and Toni Serillo is excellent. This is a very European film, episodic and sometimes slow, but those who enjoy a feast for the mind, ears and eyes should love it. The film runs 140 minutes but it goes quickly and I was sad when it was over.

†††† The video is fine, the audio good; the extra is worthwhile but we miss out on the interviews available in Region A.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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