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Death Of A Cyclist
The Criterion Collection

review by Zach B.



Not Rated

Running Time: 88 minutes

Directed by: Juan Antonio Bardem



Studio: Criterion

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, 2008



This 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. 


"Death 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.


A 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.