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Bronco Bullfrog [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free) Blu-ray + Region 0 (Region-Free) DVD
  • Classification: 15
  • Discs: 2 (Blu-ray + DVD)
  • Studio: BFI
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 13, 2010
  • RRP: £19.99

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]

Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]

Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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]

Whether you look upon writer/director Barney Platts-Mills 1969 film as one about youth in revolt or simply an extension of the British New Wave’s fascination with the working class, there’s no escaping the gritty realism of Bronco Bullfrog. A slice-of-life piece utilizing amateur actors culled from the famous stage director Joan Littlewood’s theatre, Platts-Mills film captures the era in Britain in which youngsters were transitioning from the “Mods” of the Swinging Sixties, into suedeheads, or what would eventually become skinheads. It’s one of the ultimate tales of disenfranchised youth.

The film plays out against the backdrop of Stratford, East London. It’s bleak, it’s dismal, it’s boring and Del (Del Walker) and his 15-year-old girlfriend Irene (Anne Gooding) meet trouble at home. They want something new, something fresh, but mostly they want out. Del and his crew have taken up with Bronco Bullfrog in a theft ring, but that’s not the crux of the story. The story is boy meets slightly younger, underage girl, trouble ensues, and they run away. That’s all one need know about Bronco Bullfrog’s story. It’s not the story that makes the film, but the realism and the forever angst-driven disenfranchisement of teenagers in society. This is also the dawn of skinheads — non-political skinheads. That alone makes Bronco Bullfrog an historical statement rather than just any other film.

A timely, period-inflected soundtrack by the band Audience also aids the film along.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Bronco Bullfrog was transferred in high definition from the original 35mm negative. The picture was restored using HD-DVNR and MTI restoration systems, removing dirt, scratches, and warps, repairing torn or missing frames, and improving stability issues. Director Barney Platts-Mills supervised the transfer.

The picture quality is top-notch for Bronco Bullfrog given its age. There is still some minor source damage apparent and the production doesn’t always yield the greatest results, but the image looks film-like, grain structure is natural, and detail quite strong. Processing issues aren’t apparent and it is a pleasant viewing experience overall.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

A 48kHz/24-bit LPCM 2.0 monaural soundtrack is provided for Bronco Bullfrog. It adequately gets across the heavily accented dialogue, occasional sound effects and the rock soundtrack from Audience. Some sibilant distortion remains, but it is mild.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

A heavy dose of quality supplements make this release a true bargain.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Everybody’s an Actor, Shakespeare Said (1968;1.33:1; 1080p/24; 0:30.19) — Platts-Mill’s documentary charts Joan Littlewood’s theatre work with the teenagers who would star in Bronco Bullfrog.
  • Joan Littlewood Interview (1968; 1.33:1; 1080p/24; 0:21.49) — The theatre director discusses here career in this 1968 interview.
  • Seven Green Bottles (1975; Eric Marquis; 1.33:1; 1080p/24; 0:35.06) — A cautionary tale of seven young delinquents played by non-professional actors.
  • Booklet: This is one of the better booklets the BFI have done in a while, with no less than four essays, a film review from 1970 by Nigel Andrews and bios on Joan Littlewood and Barney Platts-Mills.
  • DVD: standard definition DVD of the film

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Bronco Bullfrog is an amalgamation of a specific moment in time, partially improvised dialogue, and real youth coming together to form a film about the dawning of a new social structure in society. This excellent Blu-ray release from the BFI, overseen by the director himself, is a superb way to experience it.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B003NW1XQ2[/amazon-product]

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