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Death Of A Cyclist
The Criterion Collection
review by Zach B.
Running Time: 88 minutes
Directed by: Juan Antonio Bardem
Retail Price: $29.99
Features: Calle Bardem Documentary
Specs: 1.33:1 Full Screen, Spanish Mono, English Subtitles,
Chapter Selection (23 Chapters)
Released: May 22nd,
new Criterion edition of "Death Of A Cyclist" is presented in 1.33:1
full screen, with very slight windowboxing. It's a pretty lovely
restoration that, while not perfect (keep the age of the source
material in mind - it is over 6 decades old) is still quite excellent.
The print used features light scratches, and not all the dirt pieces
and blemishes were cleaned out. But the black and white cinematography
is stark and bold, the film's texture appears quite lush (even the
grain is not distracting), and overall, the transfer looks remarkably
sharp. Well done.
Of A Cyclist" also features a restored Mono track in Spanish. The track
is very crisp, with everything being very audible: the dialogue, the
musical cues and the sound effects. Fidelity is very high, and it's a
clean listen: no hisses, pops or any kind of distortion. Simply put,
and given the film's age, it's great.
English subtitles are included.
The sole supplement on the disc is Calle Bardem.
Presented in non-anamorphic widescreen (maybe to maximize the bit rate
for the main feature?), this 44 minute piece by Alberto Leal gives a
phenomenal overview of the life, influences and work of Juan Antonio
Bardem. Scholars, filmmakers and past collaborators (including frequent
co-writer Luis Berlanga) paint a detailed portrait of the filmmaker:
his early family life (his parents' did not want him to be in the
arts), his schooling, his literary influences, his filmmaking style and
his reaction to Spain's political climate at the time - namely
communism. Also explored are Bardem's involvement in unions and his
work on the Spanish television shows such as Jarbado,
with stories of behind-the-scenes drama. The underlying current though
is Bardem's artistry, and how the themes of some of his films (such as
"Death Of A Cyclist") became lighting rods for controversy. This is a
must view, and stupendous in how concise it is: there's a lot to learn
from these 44 minutes.
Also included inside the keepcase is
a handsome booklet featuring a fantastic essay by USC professor Marsha
Kinder (adapted from her book Blood Cinema), an intriguing essay by
Bardem himself from 1955 (translated by Mariana Carreņo King) and notes
on the transfer, DVD credits plus the chapter listing.
fascinating psychological study, as well as a superb glimpse into the
class structure of 1950s Spain, "Death Of A Cyclist" is a masterpiece
that is worthy to be part of the esteemed Criterion Collection.
Criterion's presentation is excellent, and the included documentary on
director Juan Antonio Bardem gives additional insight into the themes
of the film, as well as the filmmaker himself. This is a must see for
fans of world cinema.