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Carmen: The Restored Edition [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: French LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/24-bit); French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English (Forced)
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Classification: PG
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Second Sight Films
  • Blu-ray Release Date: July 18, 2011
  • RRP: £19.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004ZK45B6[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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]

This is Francesco Rosi’s 1984 film version of Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen. Filmed on location, it removes the opera from the stage and presents it as a true musical film, rather than simply presenting a stage production from an audience perspective. This offers the advantage of the moodiness of Spanish backdrops and glorious details that enhance the story being told. Furthermore, this version of Carmen is the true original as Bizet intended, with sections of spoken dialogue interspersed throughout, not the 1875 version by Ernest Guiraud with this dialogue turned into recitative.

The film features the outstanding performances of Julia Migenes in the role of Carmen, one she had to work long and hard at to make her voice fit into the sultry role, a young Plácido Domingo in his prime as Don José and Ruggero Raimondi as toreador Escamillo with Maestro Lorin Maazel conducting the Orchestre national de France.

The synopsis:

The film begins with an inventively cut sequence of an actual bullfight with the actor Ruggero Raimondo as Escamillo, the story’s important bullfighter, convincingly edited in. As he thrusts his sword into the bull for the fatal blow, the Prelude, Les Toréadors begins.

The young and naïve soldier Don José falls hopelessly in love with the sultry and seductive gipsy factory worker Carmen. When she is arrested for attacking a coworker with a knife, Don José helps her to escape from jail. Carmen promises to meet him and she falls in love with him as well, but he is demoted and sent to jail for a month. Upon being released, he goes to find Carmen and the two lovers finally consummate their love, but Don José is slated to return to the army. Carmen convinces him to give up everything, desert, and run away with her. Soon after, however, she spurns him for the triumphant toreador Escamillo. Don José’s desperate pleas to win back Carmen’s affections are only met with further scorn and humiliations, leading to a violent conclusion – Don José stabs Carmen to death in a bullring, causing the crowds to flee. The opera ends with him kneeling over her body mournfully confessing his guilt.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

This is a competent restoration of this film which arrives in the correct 1.66:1 aspect ratio and maintains a film-like appearance. Source damage is not an issue, but darker portions of the image show a bit of video noise and look a bit greenish, rather than completely black. Other than these slight issues, Carmen’s beautiful costumes and cinematography comes across rather well here even if grain is a bit coarse at times.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

This is not your typical opera recording made to sound like a live performance as closely as possible. In fact, all of the music for this film was recorded prior to the vocals which were then dubbed over the musical score. As such, the vocals are far more forward in the mix than usual and overall there is a drier sound to this even in the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, where the surround channels include very little sense of space. The LPCM 2.0 Stereo mix offers a relatively wide stereo field, but is quite similar in tonality to the lossless 5.1 track.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

There are two rather informative and interesting behind-the-scenes and making of featurettes offered here that give good insight into the film’s evolution.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Carmen, A Shooting Diary (1.78:1; PAL; 00:47.35) – The making of the film.
  • A Propos de Carmen (1.33:1; PAL; 00:12:07) – On the set of the film.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

This is a splendid and unique way to experience this classic opera with one of its foremost performers, Domingo, in one of the starring roles. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Additional Screen Captures


[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004ZK45B6[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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