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Lunch Hour [UK Release] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English HOH
  • Classification: U
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: BFI
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 25, 2011
  • RRP: £19.99

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

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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]

James Hill, known for his BP “trade test transmission” documentaries directed and scored the music for this 1961 late British New Wave film, Lunch Hour. It’s an early look at feminism, ironically written and produced by an all-male production team, before there was the pill and before the sexual revolution of the late 1960’s.

Two co-workers in a wallpaper and textile company, a married Junior Executive (Robert Stephens) and a young designer (Shirley Anne Fields; Saturday Night and Sunday Morning) embark upon an illicit love affair. Sneaking off on their lunch hours to sneak time together, the film captures their relationship in “real-time,” finally culminating in a hotel room rendezvous where their affair will reach the ulitmate conflict.

Hill’s story, from John Mortimer’s play, is based on a tightly-woven story and a realist look at a complex situation, one too controversial for the film to ever see a wide release at the time of its production. This was before the swinging sixties and when the first inkling of women’s liberation were springing up. It will show in the shocking resolution to the affair taken by Sally Anne Field’s character, credited simply as “woman,” in the film’s final act, an indictment of marriage and the subtle male chauvinism that has been exhibited throughout the film.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Lunch Hour was transferred in high definition from a 35mm combined finegrain at the BFI national archive. The picture was restored using MTI restoration software, removing dirt, scratches and warps, repairing damaged frames and improving stability issues.

Lunch Hour does suffer from some softness and a bit of inconsistency of detail, more due to its production than to the AVC/MPEG-4 transfer from BFI. Despite the unavoidable appearance of some source damage from time time, there is a layer of grain straight through and the transfer has a good, film-like appearance with good white levels and deep blacks.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

There’s a simple LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack provided that sounds well enough given the production quality of the original production. There is a lot of noticeable sibilant distortion and not much in the way of dynamics, but dialogue is still intelligible.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

The BFI has included director James Hill’s color shorts for BP, known as “Trade Test Transmissions” on the disc as supplements. As usual, there is also an excellent booklet, which I recommend reading for a better understanding of the film and its director.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Skyhook (1958) (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 0:17.24) – A look at the adventures of oil drilling in Paua New Guinea
  • Giuseppina (1959) (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 0:31.41) – An Oscar-Winning short in which a young girl watches the characters going by here father’s petrol station over the course of a summer’s day.
  • The Home-Made Car (1963) (1.33:!; 1080p/24; 0:28.27) – Man restores his dilapidated Bullnose Morris while his curious young neighbour watches on.
  • Booklet – Illustrated booklet with essay on the film by Sue Harper and essays on James Hill by James Piers Taylor, plus information on the transfer and film credits.
  • DVD

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

The BFI are a true asset to British cinema and the release of these films on their Flipside label are the proof. Lunch Hour is another forgotten classic well deserving of this solid restoration on Blu-ray from the BFI. Get it.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product align=”right” region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004LO2EKU[/amazon-product]

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

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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

Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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