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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > Character Study > Boxing > Silent Film > Native Americans > Nature > Literature > Teens > Raging Bull 4K (1980/MGM/UA*)/Silent Enemy (1930/Flicker Alley Blu-ray)/The Virgin Suicides 4K (1999/Paramount/*both Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays w/Blu-ray)

Raging Bull 4K (1980/MGM/UA*)/Silent Enemy (1930/Flicker Alley Blu-ray)/The Virgin Suicides 4K (1999/Paramount/*both Criterion 4K Ultra HD Blu-rays w/Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B Sound: B/B-/B Extras: A-/B-/B Films: A-/B-/B

Now for new classic film releases worth going out of your way for...

Another Martin Scorsese classic gets the ultimate in Ultra High Definition treatment as Criterion issues what is now the definite edition of his 1980 classic with Raging Bull 4K (1980) featuring the ever-remarkable performance by Robert De Niro as boxer Jake La Motta. We have covered two older Blu-ray editions and one DVD edition, showing the film has slowly found a larger audience over the years, though still not enough as far as I am concerned.

You can read about the 30th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray we covered (now 12 years ago!) at this link:


The film just continues to age well and after all this time, remains one of the greatest biopics of all time. The performances are all amazing down to the stunning lengths De Niro went to to play La Motta in different periods of his life. The chemistry between the actors as amazing as ever, even if we are more familiar with them now then when the film was first released, and yet, I still hear odd criticisms of the film. One was that it was not a realistic boxing film, which missed the point that it is a character study, yet the boxing remains intense, even when it gets surreal. Especially considering the mostly bad boxing films we've seen since, it has been more than vindicated in that regard. You just have to see the film to believe it, if you can handle the realism and honesty, now with its 4K release you can really experience its impact in a way only previously possible with a mint 35mm or maybe 16mm print that was made correctly.

The 2160p HECV/H.265, 1.85 X 1, black and white (save one spot of color,) HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image is often stunning, with Scorsese's use of monochromatic film so diverse, that only Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove can rival it. Black and white has made a comeback of sorts recently, but some films have been better at it than others. This is also a film that remains one of the greatest character study films of all time and certainly one of the greatest ever made about the Italian-American experience.

The 1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition on the Blu-ray is better than the previous Blu-ray editions, as well as all the older video formats (DVD, Laserdisc, VHS, etc.) coming from the new 4K master, but you (again) have to see it in 4K to really see it.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 2.0 Stereo mix has some moments that sound older, but like the image, some of that is intended and this comes from the original magnetic soundmaster, still with its Dolby Pro Logic surround encoding, so be sure to play it back that way if you have a home theater system. It has never sounded so good and this time, I could hear sound and even vivid sound I never heard on this film before.

Extras are expanded including some new items and include another thick, high quality booklet on the film with tech info, stills, illustrations and essays by poet Robin Robertson and film critic Glenn Kenny, while the disc versions add (per the press release):

NEW video essays by film critics Geoffrey O'Brien and Sheila O'Malley on Scorsese's mastery of formal techniques and the film's triumvirate of characters

Three audio commentaries, featuring Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker; director of photography Michael Chapman, producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler, casting director Cis Corman, music consultant Robbie Robertson, actors Theresa Saldana and John Turturro, and sound-effects supervising editor Frank Warner; and boxer Jake La Motta and screenwriters Mardik Martin and Paul Schrader

Fight Night, a making-of program featuring Scorsese and key members of the cast and crew

Three short programs highlighting the longtime collaboration between Scorsese and actor Robert De Niro

Television interview from 1981 with actor Cathy Moriarty and the real Vikki La Motta

Interview with Jake La Motta from 1990

Program from 2004 featuring veteran boxers reminiscing about La Motta

and an Original Theatrical Trailer

H.P. Carver's Silent Enemy (1930) likely wanted to duplicate the massive, surprise success of Nanook Of The North, was actually made in the Canadian Northwest (Paramount had a particularly solid presence in Canada) and tries to capture the lives of the Chippewa/Ojibway Native North American tribe. The film comes up with fictional situations (based on written accounts of French visitors,) but sadly, they were dying as the film was being made since the disease Europeans had brought with them were starting to plague the members of the tribe and many did not live long after the film arrived.

What is made here includes some beautiful footage of a people and the lands they lived on for very long periods of time and becomes an experience to see that sometimes even exceeds what the makers intended by the production to begin with. We have seen some other silent films that offer similar struggles-with-nature scenarios and we still see them today (like that recent Leonardo DiCaprio film) so you could consider this a minor classic of sorts for such filmmaking. It also proves once again that silent cinema is much stronger than lingering stereotypes of it would have you believe. Silent Enemy is a great example of a silent film that took risks and tried something somewhat new and sometimes different.

The 1080p 1.33 X 1 black & white/tinted digital High Definition image transfer can show the age of the materials used, but it is in surprisingly good shape and that the nitrate film materials (and likely some acetate dupes) have survived in such good shape is incredible, but work has also been done here to clean, further restore and preserve the film. In many sections, save the fact that it was hand-cranked and originally produced in silent speed, you could not guess the film is as old as it is. The tint colors are not bad and look authentic, though tinting always cuts down the definition and detail somewhat, it looks the way one would expect for such a film.

This silent film has one spoken piece at the very beginning, but the rest of the two PCM 2.0 Stereo track has two soundtracks to choose from: an original orchestral score composed by Siegfried Friedrich and a new orchestral score compiled and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. I like the original more, as it just flows better for me, but the new one is not bad.

Extras include an excellent series of interviews by legendary film scholar Kevin Brownlow with the film's Producer W. Douglas Burden, here as an audio commentary track that works well, a paper pullout with tech info, stills and excerpt on the film by Brownlow from 1979 and the disc also adds an Image Gallery of promotional and production materials.

That is a very impressive package overall, especially for a silent film form the time and we are again lucky it survived.

Last by absolutely not least, Sofia Coppola's remarkable feature-film debut is also back and now in Ultra High Definition. The Virgin Suicides 4K (1999) gets a fine upgrade, even though the regular Blu-ray Criterion edition was pretty impressive as discussed in our coverage of that release here:


It also has the same cover art, which I like. The new 4K is much closer to the 35mm film print I saw when it first opened 33 years ago and this means better Video Red, White and Black, plus the ability to show the wider-range of color and lighting choices Coppola and Director of Photography Ed Lachman achieved in what remains one of the best visual captures of the 1970s still in a feature film to this day.

Thus, the 2160p HECV/H.265, 1.66 X 1, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image is a great step up from the previous Criterion Blu-ray, even if it does not use Dolby Vision. Detail and depth are also better and subtle detail increases that the other disc just cannot capture.

The 1080p 1.66 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on the Blu-ray is the exact same one as the stand-alone Blu-ray we reviewed before and still looks good, but not as much as the 4K. You also get the same, excellent DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix and extras as the previous Blu-ray, so the 4K is now the way to go with this underrated film.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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