Masterpieces of the Hermitage-Volume 6 (1992)
|Year Of Production||1992|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||L. Schwartz|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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 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 final disc in this series looks at the collections of French paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries, and more recent, modern works. Again, this disc is narrated by R. Parsons.
The three episodes on this disc are:
The French Classical Style of the 17th & 18th Centuries (28:56)
This interesting episode depicts the works of the reign of Louis XIV and later, including Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Le Brun and Watteau.
The Road to Impressionism: 19th Century France (30:39)
This episode deals with the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, including Monet, Renoir, Pisarro, Degas, Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gauguin.
Modernism: Matisse, Picasso and 20th Century Painting (25:46)
This episode concentrates on the works of Matisse and Picasso, and unlike others in this series, contains readings from their writings. Ludicrously, the voice of Matisse is done by someone with a German accent (he was French), and the Spaniard Picasso has a broad American accent. Very silly indeed. Also included are the Fauvists and works by Henri Rousseau.
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.
Most of the time, the video is not sharp. This has the look of being transferred from a video master. At times, it looks as if it was transferred from a VHS copy, but thankfully most of the time this is not the case. 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 camera rarely remains still, the continual movement brings out aliasing in almost every shot, with some examples being at 1:42, 4:51 and 34:10. This makes a lot of the video 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 5:58 and 31:11.
No subtitles are provided on this single-layered disc.
As with the other discs in this series, there is a loud hum present throughout, possibly due to interference during the recording 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.
|Surround Channel Use|
10 photographs of paintings from episode two on this disc. Of minor interest, if only to see them without aliasing.
Six pages of history tracing changes at the Hermitage from 1850 to 1996. The grammar as usual is not always very good, and the information provided is not detailed, so this extra is really not worth very much.
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.
An interesting series of programmes about the massive art collection held by the Hermitage Museum, which is 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.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Yamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains|
|Speakers||Main: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175|