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Tributes — Pulse: A Requiem for the 20th Century Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • Resolution: 1080p/24
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 Stereo; DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1
  • Subtitles: None
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Dacapo
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 30, 2011
  • List Price: $29.99

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Tributes - Pulse -

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Overall
[Rating:1.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:1/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:1/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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:1/5]

Tributes is avant-garde movie making which might grace New York’s Museum of Modern Art or as we would say in the 60’s, a “happening” at a trendy club. This music video was the collaboration between American filmmaker Bill Morrison and Danish composer Simon Christensen. Director Morrison has incorporated deteriorating early nitrate films with a soundtrack featuring the electronic group Kundi Bombo. The images include a buffalo stampede, a crying baby, women and men in early 20th Century bathing suits, outdoor bandstands, industrial age machines, biplanes in military formation and, in the final sequence, a harbor with rusting boats. The four movements, said to represent the elements of  Air, Earth, Water and Fire, are here named Shifting, Multiple, Across, and Beat as characterized by the rhythms of the “music.” Christensen cites four American 20th century composers, Charles Ives, Conlon Nancarrow, Steve Reich, and Trent Reznor (of Nine Inch Nails). Listening to the score, it is not obvious that any of the above musicians could be readily or remotely found in the final product.  More to the point, this hour-long video will move very slowly for all except the most hardcore avant-gardistes. The experience of watching images of old films gone bad gets quite old quite quickly. The difference between the experience of this film and a NYC MOMA visual exhibit is that you can walk out of the latter at your own pace. Here, the only options, beyond continued viewing, are the fast forward or eject controls on your BD player’s remote.

Video Quality

[Rating:1/5]

The stated intent of the film makers is to incorporate “ancient” films that are disintegrating, a process aided by the “special” effects of the videographers. There may be some profound symbolism going on here but it is abstruse at best and mind-numbing when watched in real time. Most viewers will tire of watching blurred images interspersed with psychedelic distortion effects. My duration of novelty lasted about 8 minutes, although I did soldier on through the entire film. The advantage of Blu-ray technology is subverted by the window box displays of  mostly splotchy sepia and black and white reels taken from old, probably forgotten, no, probably forgettable films.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

The soundtrack is very clearly recorded and the sparse instrumentation and electronic effects are tactile. However, the musical content and varying rhythms, corresponding to each section, become monotonous with repetition. The surround channels do augment successfully the hypnotic musical pulse of each “movement” but cannot make the aleatoric music any more palatable for most listeners. This may be a “tribute” to Christensen’s American musical forebears but, when listening to an actual piece of, say Charles Ives or Steve Reich, one will find considerably more substance there than is found here.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

This is one case where I would have wished for anything from either director or composer that could give me an insight into this program. The booklet that accompanies this disc does provide a bit of background but is not nearly as compelling as actual interviews would have been. At least, this reviewer would have had an opportunity to understand the artistic process and its rationale which is all but impossible to derive from the finished product.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:1.5/5]

Avant garde music has always pushed the envelope for the audience. In 1913, the premiere of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring provoked riots in the concert hall. Fortunately, most public responses to new music have been more restrained. In this instance, the first few minutes would have been sufficient to induce most viewers to emulate one of the filmed sequences  in which a parachutist bails out of his plane. Although I watched past this point, when I saw the final scenes of ruined boats in the water, I started to think about going down with one of them. Fortunately, the end credits followed shortly thereafter. The audience for cinéma experimental has typically been a hardy bunch who frequent the small art houses which mount these works. Perhaps Tributes is for them,  as it was not for me.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B0058JDD4I[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B0058JDD4I[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Tributes - Pulse -

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:1.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:1/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:1/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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