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L’Age d’or [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.19:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: French PCM 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English
  • Classification: 15
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: BFI
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 30, 2011
  • RRP: £19.99

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004LNSFMW[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]

Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
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]

Here is the second and last collaboration of the surrealist artists Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, and arguably only the second film of the official Surrealist movement to be a true classic, L’Age d’or, The Age of Gold (or perhaps, more comfortably in English, The Golden Age).

Surrealism is an opening of the mind without constraints, a free-flow of ideas without strict borders, no tie to symbolism, or worry of intent. Despite the surrealist’s strong political views, in their art, they held tight to not allowing any conspicuous pronouncements of political or religious doctrines in their art – L’Age d’or broke the rules while simultaneously holding steadfast to the surrealist ideal.

That may seem like a contradiction, but, maybe not when one considers the dreamlike juxtaposition of images throughout the film, even odder and more out of place than the perpetual “gag” that was the previous, ten-minute-long Un chien andolou (presented on this Blu-ray release in high definition as well), one realizes that L’Age d’or, just over an hour-long, a bit more cohesive, yet stranger than ever, is more like something extracted from a late-night frenzy than Un chien andalou.

Banned for years shortly after its initial release due to its political, religious, and sexual content, the film centers on two sexually charged lovers who are both drawn to each other and torn apart by violence. Throughout the film, images, both strange and classic to the surrealists, are superimposed – cows appear on beds, men kick violins down the street, or in one of the classic scenes, our heroine daydreams in front of her vanity mirror and sees nothing but clouds as her lover, handcuffed by the police, lusts for her at the same time. The finale, the most controversial of all, shows a debauched Jesus Christ followed by three men – trailing behind them a brutalized young girl they have presumably ravaged.

This film caused a riot, appalling crowds, and, enraged, they destroyed works of surrealist art, leading the wealthy independent backers to withdraw the film from distribution. It was not legally shown in the United States until 1979. Ah, the good ol’ days.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

There is only so far even the best of restorations can go with a source from 1930 in bringing it back to life, so to speak. L’Age d’or‘s AVC encodement from BFI will not likely get any better than this, but taking a heavier hand to it would completely obliterate what little detail is left in this nearly century-old film. So, scratches, dirt, judder, and heavy grain are all par for the course.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

This is an early talkie, so most of it is still approached like a silent film without any dialogue at all, but the PCM 2.0 mono soundtrack will sound nothing like what people are used to today. The recording techniques and equipment of the day were certainly nowhere near the quality of what we now have, or even what was available a couple of decades later. So, there isn’t much dynamic range, there is a lot of crackle, and audio synch issues abound.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

BFI has provided Un chien andolou (1929) the 1960 restoration of the first Buñuel and Dalí surrealist film with commentary by Robert Short, plus selected scene commentary for L’Age d’or by short as well. Additionally, the DVD contains a filmed introduction by Robert Short, and  A Propósito de Buñuel, a documentary film on the artist by José Luis López-Linares and Javier Rioyo. Then there is the wonderful BFI booklet packed with essays from Robert Short, bios, and information the transfer. It is a must-read, truly, to learn not only about these films, but the surrealist movement. The release also includes a standard DVD.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

The “appalling” classic that caused a riot comes to Blu-ray from the BFI looking a bit road weary, but it is still a must see for anyone claiming to be a cinephile.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004LNSFMW[/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]

Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

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