Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage – Arrow Video (4k UHD)

Theatrical Release Date: Italy, 1970
Director: Dario Argento
Writers: Dario Argento, Fredric Brown, Bryan Edgar Wallace
Cast: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Enrico Maria Salerno, Eva Renzi

Release Date: July 26th (UK), July 27th, 2021 (USA)
Approximate Running Time: 96 Minutes 44 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 2160 Progressive / HEVC / H.265 / Dolby Vision HDR10
Rating: 18 (UK), NR (USA)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono Italian, DTS-HD Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Region Coding: Region Free
Retail Price: £34.99 (UK), $59.95 (USA)

"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)..." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 5/5

Here’s the information provided about the transfer, "New 4K restoration from the original negative by Arrow Films".

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage comes on a 100 GB triple layer 4K UHD.

Disc Size: 88 GB

Feature: 66 GB

This release uses as its starting point the source that Arrow Video used for their excellent 2017 Blu-ray release. And as great as Arrow Video’s 2017 Blu-ray looked, there are several areas where this new release looks even better. Most notably shadow detail and details in general are noticeably stronger. 

Audio: 5/5

This Release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Italian. Both audio mixes are in excellent shape, dialog is always clear, everything sounds balanced, ambient sounds are well-represented and Ennio Morricone’s score sounds appropriately robust. Included with this release are two subtitle options, English SDH and English for the Italian language tracks.


Extras for this release include reversible cover art, a double-sided fold-out poster, 6 lobby card reproductions, Image Galleries: Posters/Italian Lobby Cards/French Lobby Cards/Spanish Lobby Cards/German Promotional Material/US Publicity Stills, a trailer that created for 2017 Texas Frightmare (55 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), international trailer for The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (2 minutes 48 seconds, Dolby Digital mono English, no subtitles), Italian theatrical trailer for The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (3 minutes 11 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with English subtitles), an archival interview with actress Eva Renzi titled Eva Talking (11 minutes 19 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo German with English subtitles), a visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by author Alexandra Heller-Nicholas titled The Power of Perception (20 minutes 57 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with film critic Kat Ellinger titled Black Gloves and Screaming Mimi’s (31 minutes 54 seconds, Dolby Digital stereo English, no subtitles), an interview with actor Gildo Di Marco titled An Argento Icon (22 minutes 4 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with English subtitles), an interview with screenwriter / director Dario Argento titled Crystal Nightmare (31 minutes 24 seconds, Dolby Digital mono Italian with English subtitles), an audio commentary with Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films and a sixty page booklet with cast & crew information, an essay titled Rogues’ Gallery: Portraits of Fear written by Howard Hughes, an essay titled Sacrificial Knives and Cultic Objects: Reflections of The Screaming Mimi in Dario Argento’s The Bird with the Crystal Plumage written by Jack Seabrook, an essay titled Murder Has Two Faces: The Duality of Dario Argento’s The Bird With The Crystal Plumage written by Rachael Nisbet and information about the restoration/transfer.


Few directors have made the impact that Dario Argento and his debut film The Bird the Crystal Plumage did upon their arrival. That said, Dario Argento like a previous wunderkind Orson Welles would achieve perfection with his first film that he has yet to match with his later films.

The plot and narrative flow of The Bird the Crystal Plumage is flawless in every way as the dialog spoken in the film is not only humorous, at times it is deeply rich in context to what is going on with in the film. A first glance at the cast for The Bird the Crystal Plumage and one would quickly assume that this is some knock off B-film which couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Even at this early stage in his career Dario Argento exhibits his knack for bring out the best in everyone he works with. And nowhere is this clearer, then when it comes to the actresses he's worked with. He photographs woman with the utmost beauty, which makes the criticism that his films are full of misogyny laughable.

Though Tony Musante who portrays the protagonist Sam Dalmas had only acted in a few films before The Bird the Crystal Plumage. He delivers a solid performance that’s arguably his best performance.

Without a doubt, the most surprising aspect of The Bird the Crystal Plumage is Suzy Kendall’s portrayal of the protagonist's girlfriend. Though I have not been a fan of most films I have seen her in. She delivers her most accomplished performance. With the scene where her character Julia who's terrorized by the killer as she's trapped in her apartment being The Bird the Crystal Plumage’s most memorable moment. The emotion she conveys in this scene and her screams of terror are genuine. Also, this scene shows just what a director like Dario Argento can bring out performance wise.

Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, like Dario Argento, was relatively new to his profession and The Bird the Crystal Plumage clearly benefits from his expert use of the camera. Some of the best examples of his contributions is his use of minimal light which helps obscure details which we are not meant to see.

When discussing The Bird the Crystal Plumage one must one forget the invaluable contribution of Ennio Morricone’s score. Just like Bernard Herrmann’s score Psycho is at least 50% or more of the reason Psycho is as terrifying as it is. It’s impossible to imagine The Bird the Crystal Plumage without Ennio Morricone’s score.

Since making The Bird the Crystal Plumage Dario Argento’s films have seemed rushed and in many cases obviously lack the funds he needed to do them properly. Also, as a writer he’s become more focused on style over substance.

The Bird With The Crystal Plumage gets a solid 4K UHD upgrade from Arrow Video, highly recommended.

4K UHD screenshots.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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