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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Literature > British TV > Mini-Series > Comedy > Drama. > Counterculture > WWI > Action > Adventure > Brideshead Revisited: 30th Anniversary Collection (1981/Acorn Blu-ray + DVD Sets)/Joanna (1968/BFI Flipside series/Region B Import Blu-ray w/DVD/Dual Format Edition)/Riddle Of The Sands (1978/VCI DVD)

Brideshead Revisited: 30th Anniversary Collection (1981/Acorn Blu-ray + DVD Sets)/Joanna (1968/BFI Flipside series/Region B Import Blu-ray w/DVD/Dual Format Edition)/Riddle Of The Sands (1978/VCI DVD)/Robin Of Sherwood: Jason Connery – Limited Edition (1983/Season Three/Network U.K. Region Free Blu-ray set)/Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979/Acorn DVD Set)/The Trip (2010/IFC/MPI DVD)


Picture: B-/B/C/B/C+/C+     Sound: C+/B-/C+/B-/C+/C+     Extras: B-/B-/C-/B-/C/C     Main Programs: B/B-/C/B-/B-/C+



PLEASE NOTE: The Blu-ray edition of Joanna and Robin are only available in the U.K., with Joanna (which will only work on Region B Blu-ray players) issued by our friends at BFI (British Film Institute’s home video arm) in the U.K., Robin (will work on all Blu-ray players) from Network U.K. and can be ordered from them at the website address links provided below at the end of the review or at finer retailers.  The other four titles are U.S. releases.



And now for some British favorites back in new upgraded and reissue editions, plus a new entry and two titles some may feel are overdue.



After the disastrous 2008 feature film, it is nice to see the original 1981 Brideshead Revisited back in 30th Anniversary Collection versions, but along with DVD finally comes a Blu-ray edition we’ve been waiting for.  The filmed episodes were restored for its 25th anniversary and issued on DVD and you can read about the mini-series and that set at this link:





It was and still is a big deal that the whole show was restored from the original 16mm film and note this was shot with professional 16mm cameras and not the old consumer models from decades ago.  With that said, the 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image is just superior enough to the DVD versions to recommend them narrowly over those previous editions, both of the new format versions of which offer the same exact transfers and all three being from the same HD masters.  Like the Regan pilot to the British TV classic The Sweeney we recently covered as a Blu-ray import (see elsewhere on this site), this is the best the Brideshead has ever looked or ever will with only some limits to the color, detail and depth, but the film does not always show its age and it has been restored as far as can be expected.  Unlike Regan, the sound has not been upgraded to PCM but is the same Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo-upgraded sound as the DVD sets, but the Blu-ray is still now the best way to see this landmark mini-series.


Extras repeat the original set include a fine booklet inside the DVD case with a letter from Sturridge, cast and crew information, a brief piece on Waugh’s life, synopsis of each episode, and a great piece on the shooting locations form the earliest edition, adds the new extras from the 25th Anniversary set including the 50-minutes-long documentary, outtakes (10 minutes) and two new audio commentary tracks from the previous DVD set and the new extra is Director Michael Lindsay-Hogg’s own 40 minutes audio commentary piece.



Michael Sarne’s Joanna (1968) is his bold counterculture comedy/drama that has often been compared to Lewis Gilbert’s original Alfie with Michael Caine, but has not been seen as much or discussed as much as you might expect.  Reasons include that it is a victim of 1980s rollback politics (she gets involved with a black male), Sarne directed the disastrous film version of Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge (1970, reviewed elsewhere on this site) and in its mixed commercial success.  Now on Blu-ray as a Region B import disc from BFI (from their great Flipside series, but not yet available in the U.S. despite being a film from 20th Century Fox) and it deserves rediscovery.


Genevieve Waite is the title character (17 years old in the film) and is pretty effective, interesting and believable in the role as a young lady going to London at the height of the new fashion and music, enjoying the new freedoms involved until reality slowly sinks in and she has to deal with adult realities.  She meets all kinds of interesting people and some dull, but gets involved with Gordon (Calvin Lockhart) who owns a nightclub and is black.  She gets pregnant by him and the situation starts to take some unexpected twists.  Among the fine supporting cast as Donald Sutherland, Christian Doermer, Glenna Forster-Jones, Anthony Ainley and Fiona Lewis, so this is a must-see for anyone serious about British cinema.


The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image may show its age at times, but ha some fine color throughout to offer showing the work of Director of Photography Walter Lassally. B.S.C. (A Taste Of Honey) and the PCM 2.0 24/48 Mono sound is also solid despite being more limited and also showing its age.  The combination is as good as we could expect from the film and will impress.  Extras include a DVD version that contains a PDF version of the novelization, 2010 interview with Sarne (16 minutes), an informative illustrated booklet on the film with technical information on it and essay about it by Chris Campion, while the Blu-ray adds Frankie Dymon Jr.’s experimental short Death May Be Your Santa Claus (1968, 37 minutes) about interracial relationships and Sarne’s own short Road To Saint Tropez (1966. 31 minutes) which got him this film.



Tony Maylam’s version of Erskine Childers' Riddle Of The Sands (1978) reunited Jenny Agutter and Michael York only two years after their hit Science Fiction/Action film Logan’s Run and has York and Simon MacCorkindale as two yachtsman who find out the Germans plan to invade England’s east coast, headed by no less than Kaiser Wilhelm (Wolf Kahler).  Even with a cast that includes Alan Badel and Michael Sheard, the film is more drama than action and tends to move more slowly than it needs to not unlike York’s 1977 version of The Island Of Dr. Moreau.  Now you can see for yourself, but even in widescreen scope, I was not impressed.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is softer than I would have liked, even when color is not bad, but Director of Photography Christopher Challis, B.S.C. (Arabesque) makes it a good looking film just the same.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono fares better despite showing its age.  Howard Blake (Flash Gordon (1980)) did the score, which is not bad, but only helps so much.  A photo gallery is the only extra.



Though the first episodes were issued on Blu-ray in the U.S. and U.K., Robin Of Sherwood: Jason Connery – Limited Edition is only available so far from Network U.K. in a Region Free Blu-ray set as an import, though it did arrive on DVD and you can read more about it at this link:




The 1080p 1.33 X 1 digital High Definition image is superior to the DVD versions with nice HD masters from the soft, somewhat stylized film shoot.  The sound is here in several editions including PCM 2.0 Stereo with Pro Logic-type surrounds and original PCM 2.0 Mono, while we also get a very welcome PCM 2.0 Stereo isolated music track on the episodes and even the audio commentary tracks are upgraded to PCM 2.0 simple stereo.  Extras repeat the nine audio commentary tracks on the episodes then adds four more, plus we again get two documentary/featurette pieces, behind-the-scenes footage, Clannad: Scoring Robin of Sherwood, the U.S. credit sequence, outtakes and text cast filmographies, then adds an HD image gallery, PDF material including early screenplay drafts, It’s Showtime promo piece, Robin Hood 1-2-3 Screen Swordplay and Esta Charkham’s Photographic Retrospective.


For a show that was going for $100+ on questionable VHS copies not that long ago, this will make fans extremely happy and does as much justice to the show as anyone could have ever expected.



With the Gary Oldman remake coming to movie theaters this season, Acorn is reissuing their DVD set of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) that we previously covered at this link:




A glossary is on this version of the set I do not recall from the last set, but they are basically the same exact edition as last time and Smiley’s People is also being reissued and though we did not get a new copy of that version, here is our coverage of the original DVD release we expect is also pretty much the same set:




Needless to say Mr. Oldman and company have much to live up to, but we look forward to that remake just the same.



Last but not least is Michael Winterbottom’s comedy The Trip (2010) which is a very simple British road trip comedy in which two friends (played by comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon) spend most of the time talking and often doing dueling impersonations of everyone they can think of, especially Michael Caine.  This is meant to be stupid/funny on some level, but despite its repetition is at least amusing for the insane, endless impersonations if they do not drive you up the wall.  I was mixed on this as a novel idea for such a comedy, but it is not for everyone.  You’ll have to see for yourself if you are not certain, but it could have been worse.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image is a little soft, but not bad throughout and more stable than usual considering we get so many talking head scenes, while the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is dialogue/joke-based and only engages the surrounds so often.  Extras include a Making Of featurette, Behind The Scenes footage, Trailer and Deleted Scenes.



As noted above, you can order the Joanna Blu-ray import exclusively from BFI at this link:





…and the Robin Of Sherwood Blu-ray import set can be ordered exclusively from Network U.K. at:









-   Nicholas Sheffo


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