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Jesús Gris is an antique dealer who, with his granddaughter Aurora, discovers a mysterious scarab-like object at the base of an old statue. The statue's previous owner was a 16th century alchemist who sought eternal life and the object turns out to be the Cronos which grants the user eternal life in exchange for blood.
For more about Cronos and the Cronos Blu-ray release, see Cronos Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 29, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook, Tamara Shanath, Margarita Isabel
Director: Guillermo del Toro
» See full cast & crew
Cronos Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 29, 2011
Winner of Best Feature Film Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's "Cronos" (1993) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; audio commentary with director Guillermo del Toro; production galleries; Guillermo del Toro's short film "Geometría" (1987); video interview with actor Federico Luppi; two lengthy interviews with director Guillermo del Toro; and more. In Spanish and English, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
Here's a film that has familiar ingredients but offers something different. The prologue makes it perfectly clear in what direction its story will be heading, and well into the final third of the film there are hardly any surprises, but then things change. The film is called Cronos and is directed by Mexican helmer Guillermo del Toro.
Jesus Gris (Federico Luppi), a lonely antiques dealer, purchases an ancient wooden statue of an archangel and inside it discovers a small toy resembling a scarab. The toy comes alive and tiny mechanical legs stab into his skin. He bleeds. A couple of days later Jesus begins feeling that his body is changing.
The toy, Cronos, invented by a Spanish alchemist in the 14th century, among other things, can make a man immortal. Jesus learns about its powers after a wealthy but seriously ill Mexican industrialist (Claudio Brook) sends his slightly crazy nephew (Ron Perlman) to steal it. He tracks down Jesus and all hell breaks loose.
Cronos was del Toro's debut feature film, a pure labor of love, made with a lot of borrowed money and plenty of passion. In 1993, it went on to become a massive box office hit in Mexico, earn eight Ariel awards (the Mexican equivalent of the Oscars), as well as the coveted Mercedes-Benz Award (for Best Feature Film during La Semaine de la Critique) at the Cannes Film Festival.
Compared to the rest of del Toro's films, Cronos looks genuinely raw. Which, arguably, is what makes it so unique - it pulls in different directions, and instead of trying to retell a familiar horror story it actually manages to evolve into an excellent character study. Cronos also has a distinctive gothic flavor but isn't scary. If anything, it feels like a fairytale for adults.
The key relationship in Cronos is the one between the immortal Jesus and his granddaughter, Aurora (Tamara Shanath). The tiny toy, which Jesus becomes obsessed with, is something of a distraction. There is a special bond between Jesus and Aurora that is far stronger than the one between Jesus and Cronos. With other words, del Toro's film is about love, but not the love of blood.
Like Spanish director Victor Erice's The Spirit of the Beehive, del Toro's Cronos houses various subtle religious and political overtones. Admittedly, Erice's film is a lot more effective in its condemnation of General Franco's regime than del Toro's film is in its exploration of the dark side of the human soul (all of del Toro's horror films insist that humans are the biggest monsters, not the various creatures that populate them) but the manner in which they critique is very similar.
The cast of Cronos is comprised of various cult actors. Luppi, a legendary Argentinean actor who has appeared in such films as Adolfo Aristarain's Time for Revenge (1981), Mariano Barroso's Extasis (1996), John Sayles' Men with Guns (1997), and Miguel Bardem's Swindled (2004) is terrific as the immortal Jesus. Brook, also an iconic actor, who has contributed to some of Luis Bunuel's greatest films, including The Exterminating Angel (1962) and Simon of the Desert (1969), also delivers a memorable performance as the dying industrialist. Perlman, who was at one point advised to reconsider his contribution to Cronos, is also very convincing.
Note: Cronos has been screened at various international film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Sitges - Catalonian International Film Festival, and Moscow International Film Festival.
Cronos Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Guillermo del Toro's Cronos arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment.
Fans of Cronos who could not take advantage of Criterion's excellent Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release will be incredibly pleased with Optimum Home Entertainment's Blu-ray release - because as far as I could tell the two look practically identical. The transfer Criterion used for their Blu-ray release appears just a tiny bit lighter, with some of the browns, reds, and yellows looking ever so slightly brighter, but the discrepancies are so small that they are actually next to impossible to immediately spot. Fine object detail, clarity, and contrast are all very pleasing. Edge-enhancement is never a serious issues of concern. I also did not see any traces of heavy noise reduction. As a result, like Criterion's transfer, Optimum Home Entertainment's transfer conveys excellent depth and fluidity. A layer of healthy grain is present throughout the entire film as well. Finally, there are absolutely no serious stability issues to report in this review. However, I did notice a couple of minor flecks popping up very early into the film. (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).
Cronos Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and Spanish LPCM 2.0 (with portions of English). For the record, Optimum Home Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
I watched the entire film today with the Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track to see how it compares to the Criterion Blu-ray release, which contains only a Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (sourced from the remastered original stereo soundtrack). There are quite a few sequences that benefit rather nicely from the elaborate 5.1 mix; the reception footage and the big fight between Jesus and Angel immediately come to mind -- there is a slightly better range of dynamics and various surround enhancements that work well. Javier Álvarez's music score also gets a minor boost. But I believe that a lot of people will be more than pleased with the Spanish LPCM 2.0 track because its key characteristics are indeed excellent. As expected, the dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and exceptionally easy to follow.
Cronos Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Cronos Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Buy with confidence. British distributors Optimum Home Entertainment have put together a solid package for Mexican director Guillermo del Toro's award-winning film Cronos. Indeed, this Blu-ray release is an excellent alternative for fans of the film residing in Region-B territories who could not take advantage of Criterion's Region-A "locked" Blu-ray release. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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