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Le amiche [Masters of Cinema] [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English (Optional)
  • Classification: PG
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 21, 2011
  • RRP: £23.48

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

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

Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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]

Le amiche (The Girlfriends) finds the great Italian filmmaker Antonioni (Blow-Up; Red Desert) in his middle period expanding his filmmaking palette, still in the realm of the traditional narrative. The film shows his mastery of directing an ensemble cast while shining a light on his passion for exploring the emotional intricacies of the modern woman.

When Clelia (Eleonora Rossi-Drago) arrives in Torino to setup her fashion shop, she is drawn into the tumultuous lives of a group of independent, bourgeoisie women when one of them, Rosetta (Madeleine Fischer), attempts suicide int the very hotel Clelia is staying in. The quicksand of complicated love affairs, suicide attempts, jealousies and class warfare becomes an ever-evolving clique that can quickly devolve into an emotional hell if Clelia doesn’t watch herself.

Arguably Antonioni’s first truly great film, the director avoids allowing the film to fall into mere melodrama by deftly handling the cast and the minutia of the ever-changing relationships. He also seems to create lots of motion with the camera, courtesy of cinematographer Gianni Di Venanzo, which creates lots of energy and excitement around the drama. These are all things Antonioni would go on to use to great effect in later films, particularly in the 1960s.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Le amiche has undergone a restoration by Cineteca di Bologna, L’immagine Ritrovata, and Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation. It appears on this Blu-ray release in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.37:1 in a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 encodement that looks rather film-like and certainly very clean and detailed for a film from 1955. There are still too many inconsistencies in the image like wandering black levels and many instances of abundant tram lines for the transfer to score as one of the better catalogue releases of a classic film I have seen, however. It also appears to be lacking just a bit in high frequency information, making it at times wander into some softness even when grain is still present.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The original theatrical mix is provided in a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono mix on the disc. I don’t speak Italian, but dialogue seems to be intelligible and clear, although the sound is a bit thin and the faintest hint of crackle can still be heard.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

The supplements include two highly informative high definition features by film critic and teacher Gabe Klinger, who offers a deeper understanding of Antonioni’s career and the film Le amiche, plus a lengthy booklet and standard DVD that mirrors all the content on the Blu-ray:

  • Gabe Klinger Introduction (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 8:24) – The critic and teacher speaks about Amichi in relation to the arc of Antonioni’s career.
  • Antonioni in the Industry (1.78:1; 1080p/24;10:35 ) – Gabe Klinger speaks of Antonioni’s place amongst the greats of European filmmakers.
  • Booklet: A lengthy booklet with newly translated critical pieces about the film, interviews with Antonioni and more will be of great interest to any cineaste.
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

This restoration of Le amiche offers a superb opportunity to see a cinematic master coming into his own and attaining a mastery over the tools and skills that would go on to make him a “Master of Cinema.” Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures:

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004K0DY5O[/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:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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