That Man: Peter Berlin (2005) (NTSC)

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Released 2-Mar-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Deleted Scenes-(6:50) : Same quality as feature.
Interviews-Cast-(19:36) : Extensions of those included in feature.
Gallery-Photo-Forty-eight erotic studies of Peter Berlin.
Audio Commentary-Director's excellent feature length comments.
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 80:02
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Jim Tushinski
Studio
Distributor
Waterbearer
Beyond Home Entertainment
Starring Peter Berlin
Robert Boulanger
Rick Castro
Guy Clark
Lawrence Helman
John F. Karr
Jack Wrangler
Armistead Maupin
Daniel Nicoletta
Wakefield Poole
Robert W. Richards
John Waters
Case Alpha-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Jack Curtis Dubowsky


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Smoking Yes, As the period dictates.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Narration begins immediately.

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

Plot Synopsis

     Beyond Home Entertainment have recently released the 2005 documentary That Man Peter Berlin, directed and produced by Jim Tushinski. Born in Poland, Baron Armin Hagen Von Hoyningen-Huene became Peter Berlin, a major icon of the emerging 1960s/1970s gay subculture and this documentary has introduced the man, still living in San Francisco, to an entirely new generation of admirers.

     Tushinski’s documentary details Berlin’s beginnings in war torn Poland and his subsequent move to the United States. Initially going by the name Peter Burian, a legal threat from another actor with the same name forced a change to Peter Berlin. The young man designed and made his own clothes and photographed his favourite model, himself. Berlin's jeans, taking skin tight to a new level, were taken apart and resewn by Berlin to emphasise his buttocks and generous genitalia. Claiming to have invented the low-rise jeans, he outrageously flaunted his sexuality. Muscled torso gleaming, with motorcycle cap topping his blonde Dutch bobbed hair, he strutted the streets of San Francisco becoming an erotic one man event. Painstaking care was taken in photographing himself, generally in some self worshipping attitude, either partially clothed or naked. The ultimate narcissist, Berlin perfected a technique of double exposure, enabling him to pose with himself, often with one semi-clothed Peter admiring his naked, sexually aroused counterpart. Rarely does another figure enter the photographer's frame, except for his lover James, whom Berlin nursed during the worst days of the Aids epidemic.

     Stacked with countless stunning photo studies of Berlin, the documentary also utilises footage from his two feature movies, Nights in Black Leather (1973) and That Boy (1974). The director also uses private "home movies", many of which were found undeveloped under the subject's bed. Tushinski has chosen not to show any hardcore sequences from Berlin’s films, or even an erect p****. Andy Warhol would not permit his famous close-up of Berlin’s p**** to be included. Nudity is only seen in the context of Berlin’s solo photographs, one sexless picnic sequence from one of the films and a video of James in bed. There are plentiful interviews with others who have come into contact with Berlin, mostly during his younger years. Author Armistead Maupin of Tales of the City fame, John Waters, director of Hairspray and legendary male porn star Jack Wrangler feature heavily. These are all fascinating, literate men, who have telling comments to make both on Berlin and the state of gay sex and porn in the 70s. Wrangler is particularly charming, here seen a couple of years before his death and still strikingly handsome. Wrangler, as well as being one of the original icons of gay porn, was long-time partner and husband of another legend, songstress Margaret Whiting and they were together up to his death.

     Through these extensive interviews Berlin emerges as an enigmatic creation, rather like a rough trade male version of Garbo or Dietrich. Most revealing are the generous interview sequences with the subject himself. There are stories about Andy Warhol, Nureyev and Berlin's long-time lover, James. Interviewed surrounded by dozens of aggressively naked images of himself, Berlin is initially reticent to reveal his inner self. Gradually he opens up and, by the time we learn of his relationship with his lover and its sad outcome, we come to feel a compassion and ultimate admiration for this man who has lived his life rather simply and in such a straight forward manner. During a period of enormous social upheaval and the emergence of gay rights, Peter Berlin marched, or strutted, to a different drummer. Rather amazingly, he has been able to survive. He is a man who dared to turn himself into his own ultimate sexual fantasy. In this documentary, still an attractive, slim man in his early sixties, he lives surrounded by his favourite things - beautiful images of his finest creation; himself.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The film is presented in a 16x9 transfer of the original 1.33:1 image.

     Although the documentary is composed of material from various sources, including many still images, the quality is consistently good. The image is basically sharp and clear, with rather subdued colours. The black and white images look especially fine. There is no low level noise and only moderate artefacts in the older footage.

     This is a single layer disc.

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

Audio

     There are three audio streams on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 encoded at 448 Kbps, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround Encoded at 192 Kbps and English Dolby Digital 2.0 Director's Commentary, Surround Encoded at 448 Kbps. I was unable to access the 5.1 audio, despite trying on three different DVD players.

     The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack is fine for a documentary such as this. All dialogue is very nicely recorded, without any distortion, crackle or hiss. The dialogue is crystal clear and there were no apparent sync problems, despite the fact that the commentary indicates that there was some post dubbing.

     The music, which is electronic and rather ordinary, is evocative of bad porn movies, and does employ the surround speakers.

     The director's commentary is similarly very nicely recorded.

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

Extras

Extras

     All very interesting, but these could really all be bundled together, as they are all extensions of interviews already used in the completed film. The Deleted Scenes section has a rather lengthy "present day" interview done as the subject is walking the streets of San Francisco, and another lounging in his bed. The More Interviews section has some arresting moments as Berlin recounts his lover's suicide attempt, and an aids scare. The Other Interviews section has more with Robert Boulanger, John Waters, Jack Wrangler, Robert W. Richards and Wakefield Poole.

Photo Gallery :

     Forty-eight shots of Peter Berlin, a mix of black and white and colour and all very good quality.

Director's Commentary

     This feature length commentary is only available through the audio button on the remote control. Delivered solo by the director, it is an excellent commentary, personal and unaffected, with the unfolding documentary used as the starting point for the comments. The documentary becomes an even more enjoyable and

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    Our Region 4 release misses out on Cast and Crew Biographies.

Summary

     This excellent documentary may only be of interest to those of us who were around when Peter Berlin was in his full glory. It is well documented, simply and efficiently filmed with excellent use of archival footage from under Berlin's bed. Ultimately moving and touching, this is an account of a man who turned his body into his own sexual fantasy, and, in doing so, became an enduring icon of gay male sexuality.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Saturday, April 09, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSONY BLU RAY BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA55A950D1F : 55 inch LCD HD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

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