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Amarcord [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Italian LPCM 1.0; English Dolby Digital 1.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rating: R
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 8, 2011
  • List Price: $39.95

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Purchase Amarcord on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

Amarcord, the Romagnolo word for “I Remember,” is Federico Fellini’s 1973 semi-autobiographical film about is youth in 1930’s fascist Italy. Set in the fictional town of Borgo, which stands in for Fellini’s hometown of Rimini, the film is a wonderful blend of comedy, drama, and satire. It takes place in a nearly dream-like world of prostitutes, peasants, aristocrats, and religious leaders. Like most of Fellini’s films, there is little in Amarcord that is strictly based in the real world. It is a neo-realist tapestry from start to finish.

In Amacord, Fellini lampoons the fascist movement, ridicules the Catholic church, and exposes the rural population’s provincialism. It is a world where men are stuck in a state of pubescent sexual crudeness and women are hyper-sexualized creatures with enormous breasts and rotund derrières.

The film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film and probably even more than Fellini’s other well known masterpieces, 8 ½ and La dolce vita, is a prime example of surreal, neo-realism in film. From its opening scene of puffballs floating on a gentle breeze to the very last frame, Amarcord is an adventure best experienced rather than explained.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 35mm interspositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI’s DRS system and Pixel Farm’s PFClean system, while Digital Vision’s DVNR system was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.

The film appears in its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from Criterion. Amarcord was originally released on DVD by Criterion in 1998 with a second DVD release in 2006 from this new digital master. This new high-definition transfer far surpasses both the original DVD release and and the second DVD release from the same master. Certainly, as one can see in the Restoration Demonstration featured on the disc, this current transfer looks far cleaner than the 1998 release, has a finer grain structure, and much more accurate color reproduction. Overall, Amarcord on Blu-ray looks wonderfully film-like, has strong detail, and lots of high frequency information.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm magnetic soundtrack. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube’s integrated audio workstation.

The original Italian audio is provided in LPCM 1.0 and an English dub is also provided in a Dolby Digital 1.0 encodement. The original Italian soundtrack sounds about as good as a monaural mix can get, with well-defined separation of sounds and good depth to the dialogue. There isn’t much audible clipping to be heard either.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4.5/5]

The supplements are typically strong for a Criterion release. There is an abundance of interviews with Fellini’s friends and family, plus lots of photos, sketches and more. The audio commentary is particularly enlightening as is the booklet’s essay by Sam Rohdie.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Audio commentary recorded exclusively for the Criterion Collection in 2006 features film studies professors Peter Brunette and Frank Burke (Burke is also the author of the book Fellini’s Films).
  • Fellini’s Homecoming (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 0:44.18)– Having danced around the subject in such films as I vitelloni, director Federico Fellini finally addressed his childhood head-on in Amarcord. In this documentary, friends who knew Fellini throughout his life discuss his complicated relationship with his hometown, Rimini, and the art that he created out of it.
  • Magali Noël (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 0:15.34) – Chosen at the last moment to play Gradisca, Magali Noël threw herself into the role with typical verve and charm. She also appeared in Federico Fellini’s La dolce vita and Satyricon, in addition to such films as Rififi and Z. This interview with Noël was conducted by and appears courtesy of Allerton Films.
  • Fellini’s Drawings (1080p/24)
  • Felliniana – From Don Young’s extensive Fellini archive comes this selection of stills and media related to Amarcord. :
    • Stills (1080p/24)
    • Radio Ads
  • Gideon Bachmann Interviews – Critic Gideon Bachmann was a friend and intellectual sparring partner of Federico Fellini’s for over thirty years. As a radio broadcaster and then a filmmaker, he interviewed Fellini and many of those who knew him at length. What resulted is an oral biography of the great director.:
    • Fellini Interview
    • Friends and Family Interview
  • Restoration Demonstration (1.85:1; 1080p/24; 0:05.10) – The Criterion Collection originally released Amarcord on DVD in 1998; it was spine number 4 in the collection. In 2006, Criterion released a new DVD with a high-definition transfer and digital restoration of a new, far superior film element. The Amarcord Blu-ray edition uses that high-definition transfer. This restoration demonstration, originally created for the 2006 DVD, has been updated with high-definition footage for the Blu-ray edition.
  • Deleted Scene (1080i/60; 0:03.04) – This scene, found among some early film elements of Amarcord, has no sound and was apparently cut from the film. It is described, however, in the novelization published by Rizzoli in 1973 and involves the contessa’s loss of a diamond ring down her toilet. Carlini, or “Eau de cologne,” the man who empties the cesspits for the town, is called to retrieve it.
  • Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)
  • Booklet: This is a particularly lengthy booklet, even for a Criterion release, weighing in at 63 pages. It features an enlightening, informative essay by scholar Sam Rhodie, plus Fellini’s own essay, “My Rimini” in addition to film credits, stills, and information on the transfer.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

Criterion once again steps up to the task of releasing a film classic in a reference quality Blu-ray transfer and scores big with this must-have release of Fellini’s Amarcord. Loaded with quality supplements and a beautiful, film-like transfer it is a release that every serious cineaste will appreciate having in their collection.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right”]B004CGUC06[/amazon-product]

Purchase Amarcord on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4.5/5]

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