Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Blu Bilitis

Fingers crossed, folks; the search for a definitive Bilitis may finally be over. On the second of October, German DVD company Alive are scheduled to release Bilitis on blu-ray. It would take a lot of nerve to issue the lousy sourced-from-VHS transfers we've been living with up 'till now onto blu-ray, and Alive is a pretty credible company, so it feels safe to assume this is going to be a proper restoration taken from a 35mm print, if not an original camera negative... though of course there's no knowing that for sure at this stage.

There's no artwork yet (hey, October is a long way away still), but their official website promises us 1080p and, intriguingly, a "Making Of" feature. All of this is very promising news, but I can't help but notice that the only language option they list is "Deutsch DTS-HD 2.0" audio.  Now, it's certainly possible that, since the release is still so far off, additional specs are pending for this release. But while fans may be divided on whether the French or English is the preferable audio track, I think we can all agree just having the German dub would be really disappointing. Furthermore, since there's no mention of any subtitles, we non-German speakers may be well left out in the cold completely with this release.

Still, there's a lot to hope for here. It would seem easy enough for this company to throw on the other audio and subtitle tracks, even if they don't bother to remaster them into nice, lossless tracks, to bring in our international collector dollars. And, even if they don't... once a high quality master has been struck, there's a good chance another company in a different region will license it to release the film on blu to their market. Hopefully an English-speaking one.

So there's nothing for it but to wait and see at the moment. In the meantime, pre-orders are already up at

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Australia's Difficulty With Romance

Breillat's Romance had a bit of a sticky time getting released in Australia ...although they still got it on DVD a good year before we did in the US. But for its intended theatrical run in January 2000, it was banned by the Office of Film and Literature Classification. This ban was appealed and eventually overturned after almost a full year, in December. But the legacy of that banning has been preserved on DVD.

Pictured in the upper left is the Australian DVD, released in 2001 by Madman. For those interested, it's a fine DVD release of the film... uncut, in its original 1.66:1 ratio, and includes the original theatrical trailer, as well as bonus trailers for Breillat's Fat Girl, as well as Betty Blue, Paris, Texas  and Show Me Love. It features the original French audio with forced English subtitles. It's all region, but US fans should note that, like most Australian DVDs, it's PAL.

But it has one more bonus feature unique to this particular disc: The Australian Censorship Controversy. This is a text-only feature, but it's 27 pages long and details the decision of the censors, their subsequent correspondence and contains their full report. As a text-only feature, it may not make the disc worth going to the trouble of importing; but does make for a fun little bonus for the film's Australian fans, who probably still remember the initial banning incident fairly well.