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The Blue Angel [Masters of Cinema] [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.19:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Audio Codec: German LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/16-bit), English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH (English Language Version Only)
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: PG
  • Run Time: 107 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Eureka Entertainment (Masters of Cinema)
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 28, 2013
  • RRP: £20.42

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
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:4/5]

Josef von Sterberg’s 1930 film The Blue Angel (Der Blaue Engel) was one of the earliest German-language sound films to be produced. The film is also famous for turning Marlene Dietrich into a star overnight. Most would be surprised to learn today that Dietrich wasn’t even billed as one of the stars in the credits. Top billing for The Blue Angel at the time went to Emil Jannings, who just the previous year had won the first ever Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in von Sternberg’s The Last Command and Victor Fleming’s The Way of All Flesh.

The Blue Angel was based on a Heinrich Mann novel and, at its core, is the story of a prudish school teacher, Prof. Immanuel Rath (Jannings) who, during the course of seeking to catch his students in the act of sneaking out to a bawdy cabaret known as “The Blue Angel”, becomes enraptured with that establishment’s star attraction, Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich). An almost whimsical, one-sided, and manipulative seduction ensues on the part of Lola, and Rath ends up like putty in her hands. His involvement with Lola begins a downward spiral of misfortune for Rath.

The film itself is a visual treat, a beautiful cinematographic experience in the use of shadow and contrast, as well as visual symbolism. The subtle gags played with Rath’s handkerchief and nose blowing versus his misappropriation of Lola’s undergarments, for instance, or the gaslit cobblestone streets juxtaposed against the glitz of the electric spotlight of The Blue Angel stage make for a captivating, visually enticing film. Of course, the seductive performance of Dietrich is the main attraction, those passionate eyes, her coquettish charm – they are what catapulted her to stardom.

Von Sternberg and Dietrich would go on to make five more films together after The Blue Angel, moving to Hollywood and furthering their careers. Dietrich was on the rise, but sadly for Jannings, his career was moving in the opposite direction helped along more speedily by his choice to stay in Germany with the rise of the Nazi party and to begin starring in propaganda films for the regime.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

One can’t expect a pristine image from a film produced in 1930, so with all things taken into account, Eureka’s The Blue Angel in this Masters of Cinema series release on Blu-ray looks rather good. Source damage seems to be under control, there’s a reasonable amount of contrast and grain is not too unwieldy. Film softness does tend to be an issue as well as some problems with flicker and occasional tramlines, but overall it looks natural and more than presentable for its age in this AVC/MPEG-4 1080p transfer.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

The original German is presented in LPCM 2.0 mono (48kHz/16-bit) and the English-language version of the film includes an LPCM 2.0 mono (48kHz/24-bit) track. There is a small amount of rumble and hiss that can be heard and little dynamic range is present, but for the year this was recorded, the audio is more than presentable. The dialogue is intelligible and has limited amounts of crackle.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

Both German and English-language versions of the film are included. The audio commentary by the always interesting Tony Rayns will definitely be of interest and is never boring to listen to.

The supplements:

  • Commentary by Tony Rayns
  • English-Language Version of The Blue Angel
  • “Who Am I?” by Tag Gallagher (1.33:1; SD/NTSC; 00:30:01) – This video essay was created for this release by Tag Gallagher in November 2012
  • 1929 Screen Test (1.33:1; SD/NTSC; 00:03:47)
  • 1971 Interview Clip (1.33:1; SD/NTSC; 00:01:26)
  • Dietrich in Concert (1.33:1; SD/NTSC) – These three clips feature “Falling in Love Again” from a 1963 Stockholm concert, and “Lola” and “You’re the Cream in My Coffee” from the 1972 “I Wish You Love” performance in London.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.17:1; SD/NTSC)
  • Re-Release Trailer (1.33:1; SD/NTSC)
  • Booklet: In this booklet, we get 1968 writings on the film by von Sternberg, a timeline of the early history of The Blue Angel originally compiled in 2001 by Werner Sudendorf, a chief curator at the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, and disc and film credits along with rare photos.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

This one is an obvious classic folks, Dietrich in her earliest, star-making turn and Josef von Sterberg being Josef von Sterberg. The early “talkie”, hhot simultaneously in German and an English version (stick with the German), is deserving of a viewing (or two or three) by any cinephile worth his/her salt.

Additional Screen Captures

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

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B009NEK24S[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]



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