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Berberian Sound Studio(2012)
Inventive horror in which a sound engineer working in the confines of an Italian movie studio becomes dangerously absorbed in his work. The tale is set in the 1970s, when Italian horror films, particularly those belonging to the 'giallo' genre, were known for being shot soundless, with the effects and language tracks added later so that the movies could be dubbed into multiple languages and marketed more effectively abroad. The British sound engineer, Gilderoy (Toby Jones), works in one such studio, stabbing and otherwise assaulting vegetables to provide the requisite sounds for a horror flick. However, the more time Gilderoy spends in the studio, the more he is drawn into the world of the films on which he works...
For more about Berberian Sound Studio and the Berberian Sound Studio Blu-ray release, see Berberian Sound Studio Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on December 28, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Peter Strickland
Starring: Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou, Cosimo Fusco, Antonio Mancino
» See full cast & crew
Berberian Sound Studio Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 28, 2012
Winner of four British Independent Film Awards, including Best Director and Best Actor, Peter Strickland's "Berberian Sound Studio" (2012) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The supplemental features on the disc include original trailer for the film; audio commentary by director Peter Strickland; deleted scenes; production design gallery; video interview with director Peter Strickland; and more. In English and Italian, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The main protagonist in Peter Strickland's second feature film is a British sound engineer who has been hired to mix an Italian film. His name is Gilderoy (Toby Jones, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Rite) and he is in his early 40s. He does not speak Italian and has absolutely no idea what type of a film he will be working on.
Once in Italy, Gilderoy is introduced to Francesco (Cosimo Fusco, Angels & Demons), the man in charge with Berberian Studio, where the film is being finished. Francesco quickly shows him around and then they begin working. The first footage Gilderoy is asked to mix genuinely surprises him as he realizes that the film is about witches and sadistic killers. Soon after, he meets the director (Antonio Mancino), an extravagant character convinced that he has created a masterpiece.
The more time Gilderoy spends in the studio, however, the more everyone becomes frustrated with his work. He tries all sorts of different tricks to get the type of sounds and noises he believes are needed in the film, but Francesco repeatedly criticizes him. Eventually, the pressure gets to him and he begins having nightmares. In some of the more intense ones, someone tries to kill him.
Berberian Sound Studio is a fascinating hybrid of a film. Portions of it remind a lot about Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani's Amer, which pays tribute to the classic Italian giallo films from the '70s – the unique use of light and shadow is very effective in creating and sustaining a type of atmosphere which many of the giallo films popularized. The middle section of the film, in particular, has some phenomenal sequences with mini climaxes that easily could have been used in a variety of genre films.
Berberian Sound Studio also has some of the DNA found in David Lynch's early films - it is very tense but also loaded with dark humor film which repeatedly surprises with strange twists. Strickland also treats sound with the same care and attention Lynch does.
The finale probably isn't going to work for viewers who like clear-cut resolutions, but those who appreciate unconventional storytelling will be pleased with it. I personally think that some of the film's magic comes precisely from the ambiguity that is intentionally introduced during its final moments. (I would say that there are at least three different scenarios that could tie the loose ends of this fascinating film).
Jones is sensational as the shy sound engineer. As he tries to get used to life in Italy, he often looks as desperate and totally helpless as Bill Murray's character in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation. His Best Actor Award at the British Independent Film Awards is well deserved.
Strickland and cinematographer Nicholas D. Knowland also deserve a lot of credit for the film's chic retro look - with very little a lot was accomplished. But this should not be surprising considering the fact that Knowland has worked with the Quay Brothers (Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life) and Tony Palmer (Testimony).
Berberian Sound Studio Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio arrive son Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
Shot with the Arri Alexa camera, Berberian Sound Studio looks fantastic on Blu-ray. There is a wide range of very interesting close-ups of faces and objects in the film that boasts terrific depth and excellent definition. Clarity is also impressive, despite the fact that light is often subdued. Excluding the nightmares, contrast levels are also stable. Color reproduction does not disappoint either, though I must point out that some minor manipulations have been performed to give the film an appropriate period look (in this case, capturing and blending colors in a manner observed in some Italian giallo and psychedelic films - see screencapture #5). Finally, there are no purely transfer specific anomalies to report in this review. All in all, this is a fantastic presentation of Berberian Sound Studio that is guaranteed to impress its fans as well as those viewers who are going to see it for the first time on Blu-ray. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Berberian Sound Studio Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. (with portions in Italian). For the record, Artificial Eye have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear only when Italian is spoken.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track opens up the film exceptionally well. It has excellent depth and outstanding fluidity. There are also some very original sound effects throughout the entire film that benefit greatly from the improved audio resolution. In fact, I would say that this film actually has the most impressive range of sound effects I've encountered in quite some time, despite the fact that surround activity is not maximized. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow.
Berberian Sound Studio Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Berberian Sound Studio Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio is easily one of the year's most atmospheric and devilishly funny films. It pays tribute to the Italian genre films from the '70s but it definitely has an identity of its own. Portions of it reminded me a lot of two other very good recent films, Amer and Pontypool, so if these are films you've also seen and enjoyed, do not miss it. As expected, Artificial Eye's presentation of Berberian Sound Studio is very impressive. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Berberian Sound Studio Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Broken, Berberian Sound Studio Win Big at 2012 British Independen... - December 10, 2012
Peter Strickland's Berberian Sound Studio won four awards at last night's British Independent Film Awards, including Best Director for Peter Strickland and Best Actor for Toby Jones. Artificial Eye will release the film on Blu-ray on December 31.
• Berberian Sound Studio Blu-ray (Updated) - November 19, 2012
Independent British distributors Artificial Eye will release on Blu-ray director Peter Strickland's second feature film Berberian Sound Studio (2012), starring Toby Jones, Tonia Sotiropoulou and Cosimo Fusco. The film will be available to purchase online and in ...
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