Monday, April 28, 2008

Bilitis (1977)

Bilitis is a coming-of-age story based on the novel Les chansons de Bilitis by Pierre Louÿs, which follows the exploits of a young girl (Bilitis, played by Patti D'Arbanville) over the course of her summer vacation. It was written by Breillat with Jacques Nahum and Robert Boussinot, and directed by the English erotic photographer David Hailton in 1977.

Bilitis is available on a lot of cheap DVDs... they mainly all seem to be VHS rips. Jef Films put it out in both the US and the UK. They're fullscreen, low quality and missing at least one scene. Jef has also put out a boxed set of three of Hamilton's films, including their Bilitis disc, as well as fullscreen copies of Laura, Shadows of Summer and A Summer In Saint Tropez.

There's also a Chinese disc from Castaway with English language options that's pretty widely available, which is essentially the same as the Jef discs.

There are two DVDs released in Australia. There's the NTSC R0 disc from Blue Sky Video, which you can get from (where I get all my Aussie discs from) and similar places. That one's pretty much the same as the Jef and Chinese discs.

But a write-up on the IMDB boards, however, says the second Australian disc, "comes from a different master an is PAL. This is quite better compared to the others and the only one which is uncut. The picture quality is average and the colors are quite good. It also respects the aspect ratio (which is about 1.66:1) The source used for this DVD appears to be a VHS tape. The quality of the source though is reasonable good for a VHS tape. Sadly it doesn't have interactive menus or chapter search. But this is definitely the one to buy, for the moment."

I realize a message board post is pretty flimsy evidence, but a lot of surfing seems to confirm (from what very little information is available online - not a lot of people seem interested in detailing the finer points of budget DVDs) that this PAL disc is the best (albeit still pretty crappy), and seems to be the only version that's uncut as well. At any rate, it ain't much, but it's the best there is for now. Hamilton has a following, though... so hope eventually someone will capitalize on that and put out a beautiful, restored DVD.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There was a Russian DVD release which sounds fairly similar to the Australian PAL release.

Some prints cropped off some of the left side of the picture, others the right. There was also some variations in the opening sequence of Bilitis between prints.

If the original was shot on 35mm then a Blu-ray release would give vastly better quality than a DVD release ;)