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Quadrophenia [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English SDH
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 120 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 28, 2012
  • List Price: $39.95

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

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)


The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

Anyone remember the ruckus raised in 1960’s England by the “mods” and “rockers”? These two rival social factions, contrasting the effete, modishly dressed scooter set with the leather-clad bikers eventually clashed in a riot termed “The Second Battle of Hastings.” Quadrophenia, taking its title from The Who’s epic rock opera, is kind of Mean Streets meets Easy Rider. Anti-hero  Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels) is a young scooter-riding mod who is trying to navigate his journey through these unsettled times. The cast is an ensemble of mostly unfamiliar young faces, among which you may recognize Topsy-Turvy’s Timothy Spall (Projectionist) and rock-star Sting (dance hall star Ace Face).  Director Franc Roddam uses a raw cinematic technique that will be familiar to fans of Martin Scorsese. There is a modest amount of dialogue (much of which will prove challenging to understand even for native English-speakers) and loads of intense physicality.  Quadrophenia’s two hours moves in fits and starts, punctuated by music of the era, including a healthy dose of Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Keith Moon, and John Entwistle AKA The Who.

(Editor’s Note: For a different take, read our Quadrophenia [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review by Brandon DuHamel)

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

I am certain that, in the Criterion Collection tradition, every effort was made (and explained in detail in the “about the transfer” section of the accompanying booklet) to achieve the best possible restoration of this 1979 film. Having seen the original, I was prepared for the rather gritty nature of the print. Unfortunately, there are significant stretches of graininess, most noticeable in the night scenes. Detail is also quite variable, being pretty decent in the close ups and indoor shots and fuzzier in the distant ones.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The story gets a bit interesting here. Quadrophenia was originally released in glorious 2-channel stereo and here we get the options of Dolby Digital with Director’s Commentary, and a brand-new DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track highlighting The Who’s songs.  After listening to both stereo and multichannel versions, it is really no contest. The 5.1-channel version is much more immediate and engaging making dialogue as accessible as it is likely to get.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Since the era of this film will be fairly remote to younger viewers, we are given a significant helping of memorabilia:

  • The souvenir booklet contains Howard Hampton’s insightful essay on the film and its period, a memoir by archetypal mod “Irish Jack,”and Pete Townsend’s liner notes from the original album
  • Interviews with Bill Curbishley (co-producer and The Who’s manager), Bob Pridden (The Who’s sound engineer)
  • Segments from a 1979 BBC feature Talking Pictures, and a 1964 French news program about the mods and rockers
  • Sept millions de jeunes: “Mods” a 1965 episode of the French youth-culture program, featuring early footage of The Who
  • Trailers

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Quadrophenia is not the easiest watch out there, as we witness the dissolution of a young man (brilliantly portrayed by Phil Daniels) who starts out with a home, a job, a beloved motor scooter, life-long friends, a possible best girl, and ends up with nothing but drugs and loneliness.  Fans of coming of age films may find the darkness of this one oppressive, with its rapid-fire f-bombs and dialogue that, despite being in English is frequently incomprehensible (fortunately, there is the option of subtitles).  Judicious use of The Who’s soundtrack adds atmosphere, particularly to the inner dialogue of Jimmy’s brain. Unlike many of The Criterion Collection’s previous restoration efforts, this one does not overcome the issues with its original picture quality. The new surround soundtrack helps the clarity of the music that The Who originally intended for multi-channel production.  Going back nearly 50 years in time, Quadrophenia does a creditable job in conveying the fashions and fads of the era. All considered, this film will probably appeal more to nostalgia seekers than to a younger audience that will find it quite visually and musically dated.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Quadrophenia [Criterion Collection] on Blu-ray at CD Universe

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Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com


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

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