Overall | Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973) | Nosferatu the Vampire (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) (1979) | Woyzeck (1979) | Fitzcarraldo (1982) | Cobra Verde (1987) | My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

Herzog Kinski Collection (1973)

Herzog Kinski Collection (1973)

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Released 26-Jul-2005

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Overall Package

    Over 15 years and five films director Werner Herzog and prolific actor Klaus Kinski produced some absorbing and mesmerising cinema, albeit at times reluctantly. Having met briefly in the 1950s when Herzog was a teenager, the two were brought together in 1972 on the set of Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes in Peru. Despite Kinski's outrageous and often irrational behaviour, Herzog would return to the well four more times and in three of those films would elicit a fine performance from his star. While Kinski made well over 200 films, most of these were brief cameos, but with Herzog he was able to put together star performances that he found difficult to achieve under other directors. Herzog meanwhile made several of his best films with Kinski, as if the struggle helped produce great art.

    This box set contains all of their collaborations from Aguirre through to Cobra Verde plus the documentary Herzog made about Kinski in 1999, eight years after the actor's death. While this is a commendable set, based on reviews of the Region 1 box set and my own comparison of one of the titles I suspect that the Region 1 set is of superior quality. If you want these films in the best available quality then it might be worth gambling on the Region 1 set. If you are less concerned about the finer video quality of that set, then the Region 4 is a good alternative.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973) | Nosferatu the Vampire (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) (1979) | Woyzeck (1979) | Fitzcarraldo (1982) | Cobra Verde (1987) | My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973)

Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973)

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Released 21-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Director) And Norman Hill (Journalist)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-In English And German
Trailer-Herzog Collection
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 94:21 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (58:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Werner Herzog
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Klaus Kinski
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Popol Vuh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 1561 the Spanish adventurer Pizarro is looking for the fabled golden city of El Dorado. Seemingly lost in the jungle, he sends a portion of his company down the Amazon with instructions to look around for the city and report back in one week. He delegates Ursua (Ruy Guerra) the command of the company, with Don Lope de Aguirre (Klaus Kinski) as second in command. Both bring women with them: Ursua his mistress and Aguirre his daughter.

    Almost immediately the expedition strikes trouble. One of their rafts is stuck in a whirlpool by rapids, and the remaining rafts are washed away when the river rises 15 feet in one night. Soon Ursua's command is questioned by Aguirre. Aguirre instigates a mutiny and instead of returning to Pizarro he and the company press on down the river, beset by Indians and increasing madness.

    This was the first of five collaborations between director Werner Herzog and actor Klaus Kinski. Shot in Peru using a stolen camera with minimal crew, the film is a remarkable tale of obsession and madness. It achieves a dreamlike quality which makes it spellbinding. It is full of bizarre touches, some of which were planned (a ship hangs in a tree well above the level that the water could reach), and some which were unplanned (the surreal sight of a horse abandoned by the water's edge - the horse was put ashore due to problems on board the raft). The scenes involving the men trapped on the raft in an eddy are surreal and frightening, as the actors involved were in genuine physical danger.

    This film put Herzog on the map, due in no small degree to the remarkable performance by Kinski. He utterly convinces as the brutal, menacing and ultimately deranged Aguirre. He also provides several unexpected bits of comedy, such as when he manages to cause a horse to fall down by yelling at it, and throwing a small monkey away during the final sequences (this film does not have the usual disclaimer about no animals being hurt during the production, for obvious reasons).

    This is a one-of-a-kind movie being released with four other movies of the same kind and a documentary in a six-disc box set called the Herzog-Kinski Collection. Reviews of the other discs in the set will be forthcoming.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film appears to have been originally shot in 1.37:1, and this transfer presented at 1.33:1.

    This is just about the best condition I have seen this film in, though it is by no means perfect. The colour is excellent, with the jungle greens looking natural and flesh tones realistic. The image is quite sharp and clear, though there is a lack of fine detail. Shadow detail is good and contrast is just about right.

    Film to video artefacts are present in the form of some slight motion blurring. At times the transfer is a little grainy as well. There are almost no film artefacts.

    Optional English subtitles are provided in a yellow font. They are well timed and easy to read. Virtually all of the dialogue is subtitled.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change quite well placed at 58:32.

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

Audio

    The default soundtrack is German Dolby Digital 5.1, with an alternative English dub in 2.0.

    The soundtrack appears to be entirely dubbed, as audio sync is merely approximate throughout. Judging from the English trailer included as an extra the two women on the expedition were speaking their lines in English. Dialogue is clear though some of the audio is a little soft.

    The surround remastering of what must have been a mono track originally is not too bad. Most of the time it is very frontal, with music and effects at a low level in the rear channels. Occasionally it is a bit more enveloping, such as with the sound of the rapids coming from all speakers. The subwoofer is barely used, apart from a couple of cannon shots.

    The excellent music score is by Popol Vuh. Sounding like something out of one of Brian Eno's experimental albums, it adds an eerie tone to proceedings and heightens the sense of unreality that the picture strives for.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The main menu features some audio from the film.

Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Director) And Norman Hill (Journalist)

    Another fine commentary track, with the director recalling many of the problems he had with the production, including at least one instance where he threatened to kill his star. He talks at length about how he would tire Kinski out in order to get a better performance. Also of interest are the recollections about scenes which were shot on the spur of the moment and included for no particular narrative reason. Some information is provided about the real-life Aguirre.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    One text page each for the director and star.

Theatrical Trailer-In English And German (6:42)

    Two trailers are provided. In fact, both appear to be the same trailer but with different audio. The German version has no subtitles.

Trailers-Herzog Collection (13:29)

    Trailers for the other 5 discs in the box set.

R4 vs R1

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

    In comparison to the Region 1 release, the Region 4 misses out on:

    The Region 1 misses out on one of the trailers. Not really much difference between these two. The UK Region 2 has the same specifications as the Region 1.

    There was a previous release of this film in Region 4. I have not seen this release, but I am told that it had only the English language soundtrack. However, the new Region 4 appears to be available only as part of a box set.

Summary

    A remarkable film, one of the best films made in the 1970s. Well worth owning.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The audio commentary is an excellent extra.

There is an Official Distributor Comment available for this review.
read

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, September 18, 2005
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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Availbility - ChickenEater
Umbrella Suck - Anonymous
Aguirre audio - wolfgirv
Official Distributor Response - Umbrella Ent

Overall | Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973) | Nosferatu the Vampire (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) (1979) | Woyzeck (1979) | Fitzcarraldo (1982) | Cobra Verde (1987) | My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

Nosferatu the Vampire (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) (1979)

Nosferatu the Vampire (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) (1979)

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Released 21-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Vampire Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Director) And Norman Hill (Journalist)
Featurette-Making Of
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Herzog Collection
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 102:30 (Case: 107)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Max Schreck
Greta Schroeder
Gustav Von Wangenhelm
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    In 1979 Werner Herzog set out to make a remake of the unauthorised 1922 Dracula adaptation Nosferatu, which was directed by F.W. Murnau. The plot is similar to the 1922 film, but the execution is quite different.

    Jonathan Harker (Bruno Ganz) is sent by his employer to stitch up a property deal with Count Dracula (Klaus Kinski) in the mysterious Transylvanian mountains. On the way he discovers that the locals fear the name Dracula and no-one will help him get there. He eventually has to walk most of the way until picked up by a mysterious carriage driver. The Count turns out to be a bald and weird-looking man, who perks up at the sight of blood. And at the sight of a cameo of Harker's wife Lucy (Isabelle Adjani). While leaving the weakened Harker in his castle, Dracula sets forth for his new residence in search of love, the love of Lucy.

    A slow moving and seemingly ponderous film, this version of the oft-told tale is one of the most stylish. There are some extraordinary landscapes, superb production design and excellent cinematography that make this a treat to look at. Dramatically it may bore some viewers, as the slow pace is accompanied by deliberate and mannered acting. Perhaps this was intended to add a dream-like quality to the proceedings, and in some ways it is quite successful.

    Both Kinski and Adjani are made up to look like their counterparts in the 1922 original, and while Kinski does not look quite as alien as Max Schreck he portrays a more human and sad vampire, cursed by his inability to die and the absence of love in his life.

    There is no gore and very little blood in this Dracula adaptation, and it relies more on brooding horror for its chills than the current penchant for shocks and violence. It succeeds well on those terms but viewers seeking someone with action in it should look elsewhere. Two versions of the film were made, with one in German and the other in English. Each scene was shot twice, once in each language, though some of the actors (like Adjani) are still dubbed. The English language version supposedly runs about 12 minutes shorter than the German version, however this may simply be due to distributor cuts and not directorial vision. Only the full-length German version is included on this disc.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is transferred in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a reasonable transfer but it is not especially sharp or detailed. Like the other releases from the 1970s in this set it is grainy, and the image is lacking in finer detail. Call me daft, but I prefer it this way. It feels to me that the quality of the image somehow improves the visual aspect of the film. To be honest I have only seen this movie on VHS and television, so I cannot comment on whether it looked better in the cinema.

    I also find the colour pleasing. It is somewhat muted but adds to the period feel. Flesh tones seem washed out, though that could be explained by blood loss.

    There is some telecine wobble visible from time to time. Some Gibb Effect can be seen, and also mild aliasing as well as edge enhancement. None of these artefacts are particularly severe. There are few film artefacts visible.

    Optional English subtitles are provided in yellow font with American spelling. The dialogue all seems to be translated and the subtitles are well-timed.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted. The layer change is foolishly placed at 72:06 during an extended scene which is meant to create horror in the viewer, but only the positioning of the layer change actually creates the horror in the viewer. This is not one of the better examples of layer change positioning that I have seen and it is quite distracting, even though my player negotiated it smoothly.

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

Audio

    The default audio track is German Dolby Digital 5.1, with an alternative German 2.0 track thrown in.

    Dialogue is clear throughout. There is little in the way of hiss or serious distortion, though there is some sibilance at times. Audio sync is variable, though that is due to the dubbing of some actors.

    The surround mix is quite undistinguished. Apart from some of the music being directed to the rear channels, there is little to distinguish the soundtrack from a mono soundtrack. To be fair there is little in the film requiring a substantial soundstage anyway.

    The score is a mixture of some eerie sounds by Popol Vuh and some classical music, notably the Introduction to Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner, well utilised in the scenes where Harker approaches Castle Dracula.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The main menu features some of the music from the film.

Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Director) And Norman Hill (Journalist)

    Another fine commentary in which the director discusses his intentions in making the film, the issues he had on the set with Kinski and some of the problems he faced with certain scenes.

Featurette-Making Of (13:02)

    This is a featurette used for publicity purposes prior to the release of the film. We hear superimposed interview snippets in English from Herzog and Kinski, and we see footage of the latter being made up and directed on set by Herzog. Unfortunately these sequences are in German and there are no subtitles. Oddly this material is presented window-boxed at about 1.85:1 but is 16x9 enhanced. One wonders why it wasn't blown up to full-screen size.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    Single page text biographies of director and star.

Theatrical Trailer (2:27)

    An original trailer in English for the American release.

Trailers-Herzog Collection (14:15)

    Trailers for the five other releases in the Herzog-Kinski Collection.

R4 vs R1

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

    There are two US Region 1 releases from Anchor Bay, both of which contain much the same extras as the Region 4, but the second release also has the English-language version on a second disc. The UK Region 2 has the same specifications as the US re-release.

Summary

    A moody, unusual but compelling vampire tale.

    The video quality could have been better.

    The audio quality is good.

    Some useful extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, September 22, 2005
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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
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nmtwz kuyloim - grvzmo@mail.com

Overall | Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973) | Nosferatu the Vampire (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) (1979) | Woyzeck (1979) | Fitzcarraldo (1982) | Cobra Verde (1987) | My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

Woyzeck (1979)

Woyzeck (1979)

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Released 7-Aug-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Gallery-Photo
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Herzog Collection
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 77:18 (Case: 80)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Werner Herzog
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Klaus Kinski
Eva Mattes
Wolfgang Reichmann
Willy Semmelrogge
Josef Bierbichler
Paul Burian
Volker Prechtel
Dieter Augustin
Irm Hermann
Wolfgang Bächler
Herbert Fux
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is a relatively short film based on the unfinished 1836 play by the German writer Georg Büchner. Woyzeck (Klaus Kinski) is a private in the army. His wife is an attractive young woman (Eva Mattes) who has piqued the interest of the tall, handsome leader of the marching band (Josef Bierbichler). Woyzeck is already showing signs of derangement and his jealous suspicion of his wife as well as the monotony of his existence threaten to push him over the edge.

    Werner Herzog had long wanted to make a film of this play. It fits in well with his standard themes of the thin line between obsession and madness and the triumph or destruction of a man pushed to his extremes. It is very well acted, particularly by Kinski who himself seems to have been perennially on the brink of madness. However, while it can be admired it does not quite gel, perhaps because Woyzeck is already close to madness when the movie begins. There is very little change in Kinki's performance over the course of the film, though as always when directed by Herzog he is mesmerising to watch, and it is surprising (and a pity) that he never became a major international star. Perhaps he needed a director who was as driven by his demons as he was.

    This release is somewhat scant in terms of extras, but as it is only available as part of the boxed set of the Herzog-Kinski collaborations this may not be a barrier to purchase.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    For the most part this is a very good transfer. Sharpness is reasonable if lacking in finer detail. Colours come across well, though they are mostly muted. The uniform of the marching band leader is quite bright, so the overall colour scheme must have been intentional. The transfer is bright and clean with good contrast.

    There is some telecine wobble, mainly visible during the opening credits. There is also some minor artefacting in the form of a slight blurriness in motion. I noticed this mainly on the faces of the actors. There is some evidence of excessive noise reduction. There are few film artefacts, which are limited to faint scratches (a darker one at 40:53) and the occasional tiny fleck of dirt or dust. At 14:46 there seem to be a couple of frames with a different palette which make the image flicker for a couple of seconds. Whether this is in the original material or in the print used for this transfer I do not know.

    Optional English subtitles are in clear yellow font and follow US spelling conventions. They contain some Americanisms, such as the cost of the knife being a couple of "dimes". The subtitles are well-timed and easy to read.

    The disc is single-layered.

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

Audio

    The sole audio track is German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    The audio is quite good considering the source material. Dialogue comes across clearly with little distortion or hiss. There are few effects and little that would be gained by remastering into a surround track, and besides this is how the soundtrack would have sounded in a cinema. There is occasional sibilance.

    Audio sync is very good, though the singing of the marching band leader seems to be looped.

    The music is provided by a group of fiddle players called Fiedelquartett Telc. The music is occasionally discordant but still in the style of the early 19th century. The instruments seem to be period ones, adding to a slightly strident and wiry sound.

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

Extras

    Unlike the other fiction films in this set, there is no audio commentary.

Main Menu Audio

    The main menu features music from the score.

Gallery-Photo (0:51)

    Some stills and posters.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    Single-page biographies for director and star.

Theatrical Trailer (3:08)

    An original German release trailer with subtitles.

Trailers-Herzog-Kinski Collection (13:37)

    Trailers for the other releases in the Herzog-Kinski Collection.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 release looks like it is taken from one of the Anchor Bay releases. The US Region 1 release included longer biographies and filmographies, plus a single page insert with production notes in addition to the extras found on the Region 4.

    Anchor Bay's UK release has some film notes in addition to the extras found on the Region 4.

    I suspect that the Region 4 is a direct copy of the Region 2. Reviews tend to indicate that the video quality on the Region 1 is slightly better than the Region 2, so on that basis the Region 1 is probably to be preferred if you want the best possible quality. That said, there is nothing seriously wrong with the Region 4.

Summary

    Another interesting collaboration between Herzog and Kinski - not one of their greatest achievements, but perhaps more accessible than others to many viewers.

    The video quality is good but not great.

    The audio quality is satisfactory.

    A small array of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, September 23, 2005
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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
image flicker.. - wolfgirv
ohypkqfz vsztbix - ynwmz@mail.com

Overall | Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973) | Nosferatu the Vampire (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) (1979) | Woyzeck (1979) | Fitzcarraldo (1982) | Cobra Verde (1987) | My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Fitzcarraldo (1982)

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Released 21-Jul-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Dir.), Lucki Stipetic (Prod.) & Norman Hill
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo-Stills
Theatrical Trailer-In German
Trailer-Herzog Collection
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 150:44 (Case: 157)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Werner Herzog
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Klaus Kinski
José Lewgoy
Miguel Ángel Fuentes
Paul Hittscher
Huerequeque Enrique Bohorquez
Grande Otelo
Peter Berling
David Pérez Espinosa
Milton Nascimento
Ruy Polanah
Salvador Godínez
Dieter Milz
William L. Rose
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Popol Vuh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald (Klaus Kinski), the Fitzcarraldo of the title, and his brothel-keeping girlfriend (Claudia Cardinale) travel 1,000 miles across South America to see a performance of Ernani with Enrico Caruso and a dubbed from the pit Sarah Bernhardt (the latter played by a man for no apparent reason). Inspired by the experience, Fitzcarraldo decides that he will bring opera to the settlement of Iquitos. The area is amongst the wealthiest on earth thanks to rubber plantations, but Fitzcarraldo's own money-making schemes, like a trans-Andean railway and an ice manufacturing concern, have been failures.

    After a discussion with one of the rubber barons he is inspired to purchase a claim to an area of the Amazonian jungle that is rich with rubber trees but lies upstream of impenetrable rapids on a tributary of the Amazon. But according to a map, another tributary almost joins it beyond the rapids, and Fitzcarraldo buys an old steamship with a scheme in mind to get the steamship across the gap - by dragging it over the steep mountain between the two rivers.

    In some respects the movie seems to be an excuse for Werner Herzog to drag a boat over a mountain, and can be seen as a depiction of the filmmaker's obsessions as well as those of Fitzcarraldo. After a shaky beginning as Fitzcarraldo tries to convince the local businessmen to invest in his schemes, the film really takes off once he and his reluctant crew head off up the river. The seemingly untouched rainforests form an eerie backdrop to the action, involving a tribe of seemingly hostile Indians who see the white-suited Fitzcarraldo as a god of ancient prophecies. Whereas Herzog's earlier collaborations with Kinski dealt in madness and eventual destruction, this film is warmer and more upbeat, and it is this aspect that raises it above the ordinary.

    The production was fraught with difficulties. Kinski was not the original choice for the role, but after a few setbacks the original leading actors Jason Robards and Mick Jagger withdrew, and Herzog was forced to call on his old colleague. The problems with the shoot are well captured in the Les Blank documentary Burden of Dreams, which is just as impressive as the movie. It is a pity that this documentary is not included as an extra on this release. Kinski produced his usual tantrums, so much so that the local Indians being used as extras offered to kill Kinski on Herzog's behalf, an offer which he reluctantly declined.

    A compelling study of obsession and achievement, this film gets its second DVD release in Region 4, this time as part of the Herzog-Kinski Collection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is transferred in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    It is possible to imagine that the transfer could be better. While it is reasonably sharp, detail is lacking most of the time. Fine detail such as grass and leaves seems blurred and lacking in definition. I suspect that it is due in part at least to this being an NTSC to PAL conversion, though I cannot be completely certain of this. Colour is not especially vivid, with the greens of the jungle coming across best. Blacks are solid enough for undistracted viewing.

    Some mild aliasing is present. There is also mild motion blurring. Grain is omnipresent, and much of the time there is more than I would have liked.

    Film artefacts are few, with occasional faint scratches and a darker one at 58:32.

    The real problem with this disc is the subtitles. They are provided in a yellow font and are quite easy to read, although the spelling is American. But not all of the dialogue is translated. In a lot of the dialogue the first line is translated but the second is not, so often the point of things is missed. This reaches its peak (or nadir if you prefer) when Fitzcarraldo and his remaining crew are atop the platform in the jungle, and Fitzcarraldo reveals what he wants to do with the ship. We hear it in German (with the words "schiff" and "berg" - "ship" and "mountain") but the line is untranslated. This is extremely shoddy and very annoying, and reduces the worth of the set in which this film is released.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change placed at 82:33 at a cut.

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

Audio

    There is a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in German and English. The default, which I listened to, is the German one but the original filming had the actors speaking their lines in English. In both cases the soundtrack is dubbed, however.

    Dialogue is quite clear throughout. There is little in the way of distortion and no hiss, and the sound would be reasonable if the soundtrack was mono. As it is, the surround audio is not that impressive, being mostly geared to the front speakers. There is occasional surround information but no significant directional effects. The subwoofer springs into life a couple of times in the sequence involving jungle drums and dynamite exploding, but otherwise it remains dormant.

    The fine music score includes material from Herzog's regular collaborator Popol Vuh, as well as excerpts from Verdi and recordings of Caruso.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The voice of Caruso is heard over the static main menu.

Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Dir.), Lucki Stipetic (Prod.) & Norman Hill

    The usual fine commentary by Herzog, with occasional questions from Hill and very little input from Stipetic. It covers the production problems, the frequent tantrums by Kinski, and plenty of background information on the actors and sets. Herzog also points out a few long shots in which a tiny speck he identifies as Mick Jagger appears.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    Single page text biographies of director and star.

Gallery-Photo-Stills (0:39)

    A few production stills and behind the scenes shots.

Theatrical Trailer-In German (3:02)

    The original German trailer with burned-in English subtitles.

Trailers-Herzog Collection (13:44)

    Trailers for the other five releases in this set.

R4 vs R1

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

    By all accounts the content of the Region 1 release is virtually identical to the Region 4, with only an additional text biography of Popol Vuh and alternative stereo soundtracks in both languages being the points of difference. The Region 2 appears to be the same as the Region 4. Based on screencaps I have seen the Region 1 looks better than the Region 2. If the Region 4 is indeed an NTSC to PAL conversion, then the Region 1 is to be preferred.

    There is a German release of the film on two discs which contains the Burden of Dreams documentary, but there are no English subtitles on this release. The documentary has been released in Region 1 by the Criterion Collection.

Summary

    An excellent film, which with Aguirre is the finest collaboration of these two men. A pity it is compromised by the subtitling.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is good.

    Some useful extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Sunday, September 25, 2005
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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973) | Nosferatu the Vampire (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) (1979) | Woyzeck (1979) | Fitzcarraldo (1982) | Cobra Verde (1987) | My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

Cobra Verde (1987)

Cobra Verde (1987)

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Released 7-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Director) And Norman Hill (Journalist)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-In English And German
Trailer-Herzog Collection
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1987
Running Time 110:20
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:08) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Werner Herzog
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Klaus Kinski
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Popol Vuh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Based on Bruce Chatwin's novel The Viceroy of Ouidah, this story tells of Francisco Manoel da Silva (Klaus Kinski), who in a sketchy opening sequence is shown being exploited as a worker and killing his boss. Suddenly he is the feared Brazilian outlaw Cobra Verde, walking into a town where the residents flee as though they were in an old western.

    A sugar plantation owner, impressed by the man but unaware of the fact that he is an outlaw, hires him as overseer. Unfortunately, Cobra Verde soon manages to impregnate all three of his daughters. When the plantation owner finds this out, and also finds out who his overseer really is, he wants revenge. Afraid that attempting to kill Cobra Verde will result in much bloodshed, he and his colleagues decide to send the outlaw to Africa to resume the slave trade which the British had blocked three years earlier. They see this as a death sentence, as the mad King of Dahomey has sworn to kill any white man venturing into his territory. Cobra Verde overhears this but decides to accept the position as Viceroy anyway.

    On arrival in Africa our hero manages to survive and participates in a revolution against the King.

    By Herzog's own account Kinski was now totally crazed. Caught up in the pressures of making his own biography of the violinist Paganini, Kinski seems to have gone over the edge (something he had feared all his life). The production was difficult with the star and director coming to blows, and Kinski walked off the set before it was finished. That probably accounts for the fact that this is, with Woyzeck, the least satisfying of their films together, and also for Kinski's somewhat lacklustre performance. He certainly looks as though he is not himself, and one can believe Herzog when he says in the audio commentary that he was "completely bonkers". While most of the time he looks distracted and his mind far away, he occasionally comes into his usual old screaming self, notably in a sequence where he teaches an army of women how to fight. The choppy nature of the opening sequences can probably be explained by the actor's walkout, as the African sequences were shot first.

    One can certainly see that there was a good film here struggling to get out, but unfortunately it was not to be. Still, it's worth seeing if you like the other films in this set of five collaborations between the two, plus one documentary.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a poor video transfer marred by artefacting caused or exacerbated by an NTSC to PAL conversion. Sharpness is not too bad but detail is lacking in a film that is only 18 years old. Colour is also acceptable but less than ideal.

    There are all sorts of MPEG artefacts, mainly that mottled effect that makes the film look like it has been printed on canvas instead of celluloid. Gibb Effect is rife, and there is considerable motion blurring at times. There is also some macro-blocking and mild aliasing.

    Film artefacts are also visible. Most of these are vertical scratches, and most of these are faint.

    The subtitles are in a readable yellow font and use American spelling. They are well timed and all of the dialogue is translated.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change placed at 53:08 just after a cut. It is slightly distracting as a result.

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

Audio

    The default audio track is German Dolby Digital 5.1. There is also a stereo English track, but I listened to the default track.

    This is probably the best audio track in this set of Herzog-Kinski films, but that isn't saying a great deal. Dialogue is clear and there are no serious distortions or problems. Remastering from stereo into surround adds some directional effects, but the main use of the rear channels is for music. There are a lot of low frequency effects, ranging from drums to waves crashing on the beach.

    The music is yet again by Popol Vuh, and again it is a fine score that adds much to the film. It was his last to date for Herzog after numerous collaborations. There is also what I guess is some traditional African music, reprised over the end credits.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The main menu has some of Popol Vuh's music.

Audio Commentary-Werner Herzog (Director) And Norman Hill (Journalist)

    As usual Herzog has plenty of interesting information to impart about the film's production, including the usual Kinski madness. He also speaks at length about Bruce Chatwin, who he met in Australia while filming When the Green Ants Dream. If this commentary is less compelling than the others in the set, it is because there are a few dead spots and a bit too much talking about what is happening on screen. Despite this it is worth listening to.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    The usual single page text biographies of director and star.

Theatrical Trailers-In English And German (6:44)

    The same trailer appears twice, once with German audio and once with English audio.

Trailers-Herzog Collection (13:29)

    Trailers for the other discs in this set.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 appears to have the same content as the Region 2, though the latter also has a German stereo soundtrack.

    I have the US Region 1 release from Anchor Bay, and it is significantly better than the Region 4, though it is not perfect. Like the Region 2 it has an additional German stereo track, but the only other extra is some liner notes. The video transfer is superior, and while it has a lot of grain it does not have the MPEG artefacting of the Region 4. There is some slight motion blurring but not to the extent of the Region 4. The Region 1 is quite clearly the better option.

Summary

    An unfulfilling film which will still be of interest to fans of the director and/or star.

    The video quality is below par.

    The audio quality is good.

    A reasonable selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, September 26, 2005
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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Aguirre, the Wrath of God (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes) (Umbrella) (1973) | Nosferatu the Vampire (Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht) (1979) | Woyzeck (1979) | Fitzcarraldo (1982) | Cobra Verde (1987) | My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

My Best Fiend (Mein Liebster Feind-Klaus Kinski) (1999)

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Released 7-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Herzog Collection
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 98:55 (Case: 100)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Werner Herzog
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Isabelle Adjani
Claudia Cardinale
Justo González
Werner Herzog
Mick Jagger
Klaus Kinski
Eva Mattes
Benino Moreno Placido
Beat Presser
Guillermo Ríos
Jason Robards
Maximilian Schell
Andrés Vicente
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Popol Vuh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Generally speaking, if you see a Hollywood biography, particularly one narrated or even made by someone who knew the subject and worked with them, it turns into a self-serving puff piece about what a fine person/actor/director the subject was and glosses over the less savoury aspects of their life and career. As Marlene Dietrich observed, overpraising someone else who inspired/mentored is one of the best ways to push your own barrow, at least in Hollywood.

    When he came to make a documentary about his friend and colleague Klaus Kinski, with whom he made five films, Werner Herzog avoided this approach. Instead he draws a picture that those who worked with Kinski would have been familiar with: a half-mad, petulant egomaniac. He does this not by detailing Kinski's life and career but by chronicling his own interactions with the actor. This starts much earlier than most people imagine, as when Herzog was 13 he went to live in a boarding house with his mother and two brothers. In the same boarding house for three months was Kinski, then a young actor. Herzog revisits this house which is now a private residence, and tells the surprised owners about the havoc that Kinski wreaked, including breaking down a door and screaming abuse at his landlady for not ironing his collars properly, and having a two day fit in the bathroom in which he reduced all of the fittings to rubble that could be sifted with a tennis racket.

    Herzog revisits the locations of Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo, and interviews some of the cast members from those films, including Claudia Cardinale. He speaks with Eva Mattes, Kinski's co-star in Woyzeck. This footage is interspersed with film clips and Herzog's own reminiscences about their quarrels, and his plan to firebomb Kinski's house, thwarted only by Kinski's pet Alsatian. There are also some behind the scenes excerpts from Fitzcarraldo (presumably from Burden of Dreams) in which we see Kinski throwing a major tantrum at a cook. Although Kinski made several hundred films, only one is represented by a clip: Kinder, Mutter und Ein General, an early film appearance in which Kinski orders the death of a soldier played by Maximilian Schell.

    Despite Kinski's behaviour he and Herzog remained friendly until near the end of Kinski's life. Herzog avoids pumping himself up at Kinski's expense, which makes this documentary revealing about both. While it could not be described as a detailed portrait of the actor, it gives much insight into the relationship between the pair and why their collaborations tend to be superior to their solo work (perhaps more so in Kinski's case than in Herzog's).

    As a pendant to the five collaborations included in this set, this documentary is more than worthwhile.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    For a film that is only six years old, it does not look as good as it should, and I suspect that it may be an NTSC to PAL conversion. The new footage of Herzog and the interviewees is grainy and lacking in detail. The transfer is sharp up to a point. Colour is acceptable but a little muted. Contrast is good but as in all of the releases in this series the shadow detail is no better than average.

    The archival footage varies from good to average, with the usual artefacts. The quality seems to be much the same as the complete films in the rest of the set, though such material as was originally in 1.33:1 is cropped to 1.78:1.

    Optional subtitles are provided in English in yellow font. Just about everything not in English is subtitled and the subtitles are clear. However there are a few spelling errors. Also, during the interview with Eva Mattes the timing of the subtitles seems to move in and out of synch with the dialogue, with the titles sometimes being a little behind. This issue resolves itself after a couple of minutes.

    The disc is dual-layered but there is no layer break during the film.

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

Audio

    The audio is German Dolby Digital 2.0 without surround encoding. There are a few bits and pieces in English or Spanish (or maybe Portuguese, I'm not certain). The last of these are overdubbed in German by Herzog himself. There is also an English language version, again with Herzog's narration. He has a pleasant and distinctive speaking voice in both languages.

    Dialogue is clear throughout, though some of the interviewees speak quite softly. All of the audio comes across well with no distortion. There is no significant stereo activity, and none is really needed for the documentary to have an impact. In fact, anything like that probably would have been a distraction.

    The music seems to be mostly taken from the film scores by Popol Vuh, which makes it very idiomatic.

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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    The audio is music from the film.

Theatrical Trailer (1:29)

    An original trailer in German with English subtitles.

Trailers-Herzog Collection (15:16)

    Trailers for the other discs in this set

R4 vs R1

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

    Both the US Region 1 and the UK Region 2 have identical specifications. The video quality of the Region 1 is reported to be better than the Region 2, so I would have to plump for that release.

Summary

    A fascinating and compelling documentary about two men who could both be reasonably described as mad, though one claims to be clinically sane.

    The video quality is acceptable.

    The audio quality is good.

    There are no substantial extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
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.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Umbrella's NTSC - PAL transfers - Very annoyed