Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 3 (1992)

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Released 28-Oct-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Art Gallery-Photo
Notes-History
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 76:57 (Case: 85)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By L. Schwartz
Studio
Distributor

Warner Vision
Starring R. Parsons
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music W. A. Mozart
Ludwig Van Beethoven
J. S. Bach


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The State Hermitage Museum of St Petersburg is one of the largest museums in the world, with a collection of around 3,000,000 works of art. It is housed in seven buildings constructed by Catherine the Great and her successors, starting in the mid-Eighteenth Century. Following the construction of the Winter Palace, Catherine decided that she wanted a smaller, less formal building to hold balls and parties. This new building was known as the Hermitage, literally the dwelling place of a hermit, after the French fashion.

    The third disc in this series looks at art of the Classical era and the Middle Ages. This material is interesting, but sadly the video transfer reduces the pleasures to be gained from watching it.

    Again, this disc is narrated by R. Parsons.

    The three episodes on this disc are:

The Art of Ancient Egypt (25:58)

    There are almost 10,000 pieces in the Hermitage collection from Ancient Egypt, ranging from stone and bronze statuary to stone pottery, including sarcophagi and tablets covered in hieroglyphics.

The Classical World of Greece and Rome (24:32)

    This episode covers the Greek and Roman collections, which consists mainly of statues and other sculptures, together with pottery. The development of the art of decorating pottery in ancient Greece is covered in detail. The influence of Greek art on Roman art is also addressed, with numerous examples shown.

Art of the Middle Ages (26:26)

    There is a fascinating selection of artworks shown, including paintings, statues in the Gothic and Romanesque style, and the substantial collection of armour held by the Hermitage. Reliquaries, icons and other religious items form the major part of this episode.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    As with the other discs in this series, the video quality is quite disappointing.

    The video is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, being a series made for television.

    The video is not sharp. This has the look of being transferred from a video master, at times looking like it was transferred from a VHS copy. Shadow detail is not really an issue with this sort of material.

    Colour is somewhat muted, but I suspect that this is due to the colour of a lot of the works of art, which have faded over the years. Bright colours appear when paintings and frescoes that include such colours appear, though as I am not familiar with the originals, I cannot comment on the fidelity of the image to the original.

    There is some grain present, particularly in the opening and closing sequences, which are repeated from episode to episode and look different to the rest of the material, as if they were from a different source, such as stock footage. This footage also has some film artefacts, such as dirt and black flecks.

    This transfer is badly affected by aliasing throughout. The museum's interior comprises a lot of intricate straight and curved lines, especially the door surrounds, the ceilings and the balustrades. So do most of the artworks. As the moving camera brings out aliasing in almost every shot, with some examples being at 3:16, 6:29 and 27:40, it is often difficult to watch. This may be less of an issue with small display devices.

    There is also a problem with some of the darker works, particularly those that are dark brown. There appears to be a sort of thin gauze over the image, resulting in a scaly appearance to the image. Some of the more obvious examples are at 29:54 and 52:23.

    There is an example of a Moire effect at 58:02.

    No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.

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

Audio

    As in the other discs in this series, there is a loud hum present throughout, possibly due to interference during either the recording or transfer process. It is not dissimilar to the background hum you get from a record player or turntable. This is annoying at times, although as it is continuous the ear adjusts to a point.

    There is one audio track, in English Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand, the narrator's foibles notwithstanding. Audio sync is not an issue.

    Classical music excerpts are played in the background. The sound is a little thin and the dynamic range is that of video. Not all of the musical excerpts complement the images, but this is not a major distraction.

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

Extras

Gallery

    10 photographs of statuary and sculpture from Ancient Egypt. Of minor interest, if only to see them without aliasing.

History

    Six pages of history relating to the acquisition of artworks by Catherine the Great, as well as her accession to the throne. The grammar is not always very good, and the information provided is not detailed, so this extra is really not worth very much.

R4 vs R1

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

    This series has been released as a 2 disc set in Region 1. I have not been able to locate any reviews of this set to determine whether the transfer is better or the same, so at this time the best version cannot be determined.

Summary

    An interesting series of programmes about the massive art collection held by the Hermitage Museum, spoiled by the transfer.

    The video quality is very poor.

    The audio quality would have been satisfactory if it was not for the omnipresent hum.

    The extras are not substantial.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, January 25, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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