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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 December 3, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Writer: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Federico Luppi, Ron Perlman, Claudio Brook, Tamara Shanath, Margarita Isabel
» See full cast & crew
Cronos Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, December 3, 2010
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 Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include a fscinating trip of Guillermo del Toro's house; two audio commentaries; Guillermo del Toro's short film "Geometría" (1987); interviews with Guillermo del Toro, Oscar-winning cinematographer Guillermo Navarro, actors Ron Perlman, and Federico Luppi; stills gallery; and the film's original theatrical trailer. The disc also arrives with a 42-page illustrated booklet. In Spanish and English, with optional English SDH subtitles. Region-A "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 1.78:1m encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Guillermo del Toro's Cronos arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Cronos is presented in the director's preferred aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Director Guillermo del Toro and director of photography Guillermo Navarro supervised this new high-definition digital transfer, which was created in 2K resolution on a Spirit 4K Datacine from the original 35mm camera negative. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, splices, warps, jitter, and flicker were manually removed using MTI's DRS system and Pixel Farm's PFClean system, while Digital Vision's DVNR system was used for small dirt, grain, and noise reduction.
Telecine supervisors: Guillermo del Toro, Guillermo Navarro, Maria Palazzola.
Telecine colorist: Gregg Garvin/Modern Videofilm, Los Angeles."
Compared to the old Lionsgate Films SDVD release of Cronos, Criterion's Blu-ray release represents a massive upgrade in quality. Fine object detail, clarity, and contrast levels are dramatically improved, and colors substantially better reproduced. Furthermore, there are no traces of edge- enhancement and macroblocking, both of which are prominent on the SDVD release. There are no traces of heavy noise reduction. Naturally, Cronos has a wonderful organic look. There are no serious stability issues to report in this review either. Lastly, I did not see any annoying flecks, scratches, marks, stains, or debris. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Cronos Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (with portions of English). For the record, Criterion have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. For the record, Cronos arrives with two introductions: English and Spanish (original).
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The stereo soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from 35mm LT/RT magnetic soundtrack. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated audio workstation."
The Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is excellent. It has a wonderful range of dynamics and plenty of depth. The dialog is clean, crisp, stable, and very easy to follow. There are no serious balance issues with Javier Alvarez's music score either. Lastly, while viewing Cronos I did not detect any disturbing pops, cracks, hissings, or dropouts to report in this review.
Cronos Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Cronos Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I really cannot think of another successful director that is as passionate about cinema and modest as Guillermo del Toro is. To be honest, I think that the audio commentary and various interviews with him that are included on Cronos are a good enough reason to highly recommend it. Make sure to see Welcome to the Bleak House. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Cronos Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Guillermo del Toro to Sign Copies of Cronos Blu-ray - December 7, 2010
To support the Blu-ray release of Guillermo del Toro's Cronos by The Criterion Collection, the filmmaker will be signing copies of the movie today at the Amoeba Music store in Hollywood. Following the signing, a special screening of the movie Cronos, as well as ...
• Criterion Blu-ray in December: Cronenberg, Del Toro - September 15, 2010
After the bonanza of Blu-ray titles that The Criterion Collection is lavishing upon film enthusiasts in September-November, the studio's December slate looks comparatively spare. Two movies have been announced for Blu-ray release on December 7: Cronos (Guillermo ...
• Del Toro's Cronos Criterion Blu-ray Coming Soon - June 25, 2010
Yesterday, director Guillermo del Toro attended the 36th Annual Saturn Awards and gave a 20-minute impromptu interview backstage. After the interview finished, Del Toro revealed off-camera to Collider's Steve Weintraub that the Criterion Collection is going to ...
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