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Fitness Freaks

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Robert Green
Robert Green

Subtitle Germany.Year.Zero.1948.BFI.Criterion.1...

Barely overlapping in terms of extras and a definite upgrade in terms of image quality is the limited edition Blu-ray set released in the UK by the BFI, which is hugely recommended if you're Region B capable. The new HD restorations performed in 2013 are extremely impressive if you're familiar with the history of these films; there are still some unavoidable fluctuations and signs of damage, but these look about as good as you're likely to see in a home theater. Paisan is the most erratic of the three for obvious reasons (it's miraculous it's been brought up to the quality seen here), but any admirer should be overjoyed to have these major titles looking like this. Audio is presented in Italian LPCM for the first two films and LPCM German for the third with optional English subtitles. Though the packaging doesn't play it up, you could actually call this a four-film set as it also includes a 2K transfer of L'amore, the 1948 film Rossellini made in the middle of this series with Magnani reuniting with him in front of the camera. It's also notable for the fact that it contains two stories penned by Jean Cocteau and Fellini, a combo that makes this a must see all on its own. The second story ("The Miracle") was something of a censorship sensation in America, incidentally, leading to First Amendment protection of motion pictures like all other art forms. Carried over here is the "Into the Future" piece, while the 2005 "Children of Open City" covers the locations of the film then and now with a ton of historical info and local coverage guided by Vito Annicchiarico. As usual, the liner notes booklet is packed with info thanks to new essays by Rosenbaum, Gallagher, and Geoffrey Nowell-Smith. The three films are also available separately as DVDs only.

subtitle Germany.Year.Zero.1948.BFI.Criterion.1...

New Babylon was restored in a joint venture by Dutch and German broadcasting channels and released, with the Shostakovich score, on DVD. There are Dutch and German versions, as Nieuw Babylon and Das neue Babylon respectively, which are out of print. We have the former. These retain the Russian intertitles, and, despite what the covers say, there are English and French optional subtitles as well as Dutch and German ones. (The booklet, however, is only in Dutch or German.) The quality is acceptable, but this film really needs a better restoration and Blu-ray release. It seems evident that the aspect ratio used in the current release crops the image to some extent.

The next-to-last reel of the film, in which the landowner tries to kill Kuzmina, is missing. A restored version of the film accompanied by a reconstruction of the Shostakovich score was released on Dutch and German DVDs in 2007. (The frames here are from the Dutch DVD.) It includes a long series of intertitles describing action in the missing reel, drawn-out so as to match the length of the music, which does survive. As far as I can tell, these DVDs are no longer available. I am reluctant to recommend a version on YouTube, derived from the German DVD and superimposing English subtitles on German ones, on top of Russian intertitles. It does seem to be the only widely available way to see the film at this point, so for those who can put up with the clutter and the poor quality of the online version, it is here. A complete recording of the charming music is still available.

The film was made in both sound and silent versions. Only the latter survives. I watched the Arte Video/Lobster Films version, still in print. (A Facets release in the US is out of print.) The French DVD has English subtitles, as well as a short, informative video introduction by Serge Bromberg in lieu of program notes. 041b061a72


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