Mother of Tears Blu-ray impressions
Mother of Tears recently became the first Dario Argento film to get a high definition release (well, discounting his Masters of Horror episode Jenifer, put out by Anchor Bay last year), having been released on Blu-ray by French label Seven Sept. I ordered a copy, and it arrived today. Unfortunately, as I suspected would be the case, it’s coded for Region B only, which is less than thrilling for Region A people such as myself. It also insists on enabling French subtitles whenever you select the English audio track, but neglects to provide you with a means of turning them off again (this “feature” afflicts a number of French DVDs and BDs). Luckily, those of us in PC-land who are armed with a copy of AnyDVD HD can easily correct both of these errors.
The disc is a single layer BD-25, and the film has been treated to a VC-1 encode. Unfortunately, while there are some nice things about the transfer, there are also a number of problems. Chiefly, the image appears to have been quite heavily noise reduced, resulting in waxy facial features and textures, with some edge enhancement added on top to give it that unnatural, digital look. It’s not a dreadful transfer by any means, and it’s a noticeable step up from Optimum’s DVD, but, as I always say, saying a high definition release looks better than a DVD is about the most back-handed compliment you can pay it. Screen captures are, as usual, below.
Mother of Tears
(Seven Sept, France, VC-1, 16.7 GB)
Posted: Friday, September 26, 2008 at 10:35 PM
| Comments: 10
| Dario Argento
That's some pretty strong EE there.
Posted by: Kram Sacul, September 27, 2008 12:48 AM
I still haven't jumped on the HD-anything bandwagon but I'm curious: is 16.7 GB considered a small size for an HD transfer since its a 25 GB disc or does the file size depend on the codec used (VC-1, here)? You mention the edge enhancement and noise reduction but would any more detail be wrung out by a transfer that uses more of the disc space (as much as the audio part of the bitrate would allow)?
Posted by: , September 28, 2008 5:45 AM
Given that it’s a single layer discs, I suppose 16.7 GB is a little on the small side by not unusual. Most of the Blu-ray releases I’ve bought of late have been BD-50s, in which cases the encode generally takes up at least 30 GB, but a lowish bit rate isn’t automatically the kiss of death. VC-1 especially is often marketed in terms of its efficiency, and on HD DVD it wasn’t unusual to see encodes as low as 12 or 13 GB. In any event, Mother of Tears is a reasonably short film, so it’s not surprising that the file size is smaller than that of the average Blockbuster.
As for the edge enhancement and NR, I’m not sure, but I have a feeling that these flaws are endemic to the master rather than something done especially for this BD release. Both these problems affected the DVD from Optimum to a similar degree, and it’s worth pointing out that the opening and closing credits, and the location type, aren’t affected by the EE. This suggests to me that the digital manipulation was done before the final compositing was done, in which case we may never see a copy of this film free of EE and NR. Of course, I could easily be wrong, but that’s how it looks to me.
Posted by: Whiggles
, September 28, 2008 11:00 AM
Optimun have released 4 upconverts as HD so far which i find shocking....Their Total Recall disc is also misframed.
The size of the disc isn't the problem....25 gigabytes is fine for films which are around the 2 hour mark or even slightly more.
I am a fan of Argento's work and look forward to the Argento classics being released on Blu Ray.
Posted by: FoxyMulder, September 28, 2008 6:21 PM
"As for the edge enhancement and NR, I'm not sure, but I have a feeling that these flaws are endemic to the master rather than something done especially for this BD release. Both these problems affected the DVD from Optimum to a similar degree, and it's worth pointing out that the opening and closing credits, and the location type, aren't affected by the EE. This suggests to me that the digital manipulation was done before the final compositing was done, in which case we may never see a copy of this film free of EE and NR. Of course, I could easily be wrong, but that's how it looks to me."
I was fortunate enough to see this under ideal conditions - a good 35mm print, well-projected on a nice size screen. The EE and NR were very much in evidence. The film was definitely given a Digital Intermediate, likely by Italian technicians, and I don't think they did all that great a job on it.
Posted by: Jeffrey Allen Rydell, September 30, 2008 4:46 AM
Thanks for the clarification, Jeff. Your experience of seeing it theatrically would appear to confirm my suspicions that the problems evident on the BD made their way into the master at a comparatively early stage. That’s too bad. :(
Posted by: Whiggles
, September 30, 2008 12:49 PM
What about all of the excessive noise ("ringing?") during the line drawings used to illustrate the flashback?*
I much prefer the way the three mothers were represented in earlier films solely through the architecture and decor and just the slightest view of the painting in INFERNO rather than this laborious explanation full of wolves, rats, and plagues.
Posted by: , September 30, 2008 10:25 PM
What about all of the excessive noise (“ringing?”) during the line drawings used to illustrate the flashback?
Damn it, I knew there was a shot I’d forgotten to include. Oddly enough, the “comic book” segment shows grain and print damage (in addition to the ringing, made all the more noticeable by the fact that the entire image is comprised of high contrast black on white), which leads me to believe that it was probably actually shot on film rather than simply scanned and manipulated digitally.
Posted by: Whiggles
, October 1, 2008 9:18 PM
With films edited on a DI, do they even bother to keep the actual 35mm film anymore? Not that I'd expect a full film based re-edit of a $3.5 million dollar horror film, I'm just curious if it'd even be physically possible. At the very least I'd guess CG shots would have to be re-rendered, so unless Il Maestro decides to create some sort of 'Final Cut' years from now... well again, I'm not expecting it, I'm just curious.
I thought the film was pretty awful myself when I saw it dubbed in Italian (Or should I be impressed that he made a Lucio Fulci film?), but honestly, any Dario Argento on Blu-ray is a good thing, and a bigger step toward his other films getting on the format as well. I just hope that when SUSPIRIA shows up it's not that terrible Technicolor restoration...
Posted by: Kentai, October 2, 2008 7:41 AM
So Dimension's dual-layer transfer wouldn't likely be any better than the Optimum disc (was that dual-layer?)
Posted by: , October 2, 2008 12:00 PM
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