Blu-Ray Review: Arrow Video’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage

Garon CockrellBlu-Ray Review, Horror, Movies, ReviewsLeave a Comment

Dario Argento

In 1970, young first-time director Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria) made his indelible mark on Italian cinema with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, a film which redefined the ‘giallo’ genre of murder-mystery thrillers and catapulted him to international stardom.

Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante, We Own the Night), an American writer living in Rome, inadvertently witnesses a brutal attack on a woman (Eva Renzi, Funeral in Berlin) in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help, he grows increasingly obsessed with the incident. Convinced that something he saw that night holds the key to identifying the maniac terrorizing Rome, he launches his own investigation parallel to that of the police, heedless of the danger to both himself and his girlfriend Giulia (Suzy Kendall, Spasmo)…

A staggeringly assured debut, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage establishes the key traits that would define Argento’s filmography, including lavish visuals and a flare for wildly inventive, brutal scenes of violence. With sumptuous cinematography by Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now) and a seductive score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time in the West), this landmark film has never looked or sounded better in this new, 4K-restored limited edition from Arrow Video.

LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the camera negative in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
The Power of Perception, a new visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil s Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study
New analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger
New interview with writer/director Dario Argento
New interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp
Limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook

Dario Argento

I have to admit, as a horror fan, there is a pretty gaping hole in what films I’ve seen and it’s basically shaped like Italy. I’ve seen a few of the classics (The Beyond, Demons to name a couple) but I haven’t yet really dived into the works of Dario Argento. In fact, I’ve only seen two of his films: Phoenomena and Suspiria. Now, thanks to Arrow Video, I can jump into the works of this horror legend starting from his very first film, The Bird With The Crystal Plumage.

More of a mystery thriller than a horror film, the film centers around a writer who stumbles across an attempted murder and finds himself first a suspect and then searching for the real killer himself. As the bodies of young women pile up, the killer starts with threatening phone calls and eventually our hero becomes a target himself.

Surprisingly, this movie turns out to be tame – I was expecting far more gruesome scenes based on my expecations for this genre. On the contrary, it’s all rather subtle. While it’s not the scariest of films, it’s definitely a great mystery. I was running through the suspects for the entire film and never guessed what the actual outcome would be. It’s a pretty well done story in that regard, even if it is a little unbelieveable that this American writer is off solving murders.

I did enjoy seeing some hints at Argento’s eventual use of color here. Some scenes really stand out with some interesting decoration and colors in the background.

You do get the dubbed version and the Italian version, although that seemed a bit dubbed as well, so whatever your preference is language wise for these types of films you should be satisfied.

In typical Arrow fashion, they’ve crafted a really stellar release for this film, if you can’t tell from the special features listed above. It’s really exciting that Arrow has been able to start bringing titles to the US and this release is a prime example of why you should be taking notice of their work. It’s a really well designed box and a gorgeous presentation. The picture looks great and the sound is pristine.

Argento fans will love the set for its great features and the stellar presentation of the film itself. New fans will do well to take this as a perfect opportunity to dive into the works of Argento as The Bird With The Crystal Plumage is an excellent place to start.

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage is available now.

Dario Argento review

 

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Garon CockrellBlu-Ray Review: Arrow Video’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage