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An intimate documentary portrait of underground artist Robert Crumb, whose unique drawing style and sexually and racially provocative subject matter have made him a household name in popular American art.
For more about Crumb and the Crumb Blu-ray release, see the Crumb Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on July 24, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Robert Crumb
Director: Terry Zwigoff
» See full cast & crew
Crumb Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, July 24, 2010
Winner of the Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Award at the Sundance Film Festival, Terry Zwigoff's "Crumb" (1994) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include a new audio commentary with director Terry Zwigoff; second audio commentary with director Terry Zwigoff and film critic Roger Ebert; unused footage; and stills gallery. The disc also arrives with a 28-page illustrated booklet as well as a replica of a hilarious talent test. In English, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Terry Zwigoff's Crumb is a fascinating documentary film about famous underground artist Robert Crumb. During the 60s, Crumb became incredibly successful after he created the Keep on Truckin' character and Fritz the Cat.
Director Zwigoff knew Crumb very well. He also shared some of Crumb's obsessions. More importantly, director Zwigoff liked Crumb's work a lot. When shooting of Crumb began, however, neither of two knew what type of a film it was going to be.
Director Zwigoff needed six years to complete his film. He interviewed Crumb, his brothers Max and Charles, their mother, as well as a number of people who played an important part in Crumb's life. The stories they shared in front of director Zwigoff's camera are hilarious, sad, explicit and even offensive.
Crumb will surely resonate differently with different people. Some viewers will be enormously entertained by its frank and unapologetic tone; others are likely to be disturbed by the abundance of vulgarity in it. Anyone who sees Crumb, however, is likely to remember it. There are just no other films like it.
It is important to clarify that Crumb is not a film about art. Rather, it is a film about the process of creating art and an artist who seems locked in a world no one else is allowed to enter, one ruled by very strange obsessions and inexorable desires.
Crumb's work evolved enormously during the years. His early comics, for instance, are not as intense and personal as a lot of the ones he created later in his career. What Crumb has been working on in recent years, after relocating to France, are also a lot more elaborate projects, such as illustrating Kafka's life and work, and the book of Genesis.
During the years Crumb's work has been just as passionately critiqued as it has been defended by different individuals who felt qualified to express an informed opinion on it. Once you see Crumb, however, you will quickly realize that critiquing or defending Crumb's work from a position of authority is indeed an exercise in futility.
Though director Zwigoff has allowed critics and defenders of Crumb's work to speak freely in his film, he conveniently does not side with any of them. For the most part director Zwigoff is nothing but a casual observer with a film camera who enjoyed access to the strange world of an artist teetering on the fine line between genius and insanity.
Crumb has a distinctively raw look. The editing is also somewhat inconsistent, and during the second half of the film it clearly shows (in the second audio commentary provided on this Blu-ray disc director Zwigoff and Roger Ebert spend a good amount of time discussing the film's editing; director Zwigoff specifically addresses a number of scenes which he believes should not have been part of his film's final version).
Prior to the film's premiere, Charles Crumb committed suicide.
In the early 90s, the Crumbs moved to France. They live in a small village near Suave, southern France.
In 1995, Crumb won the Grand Jury Prize and Cinematography Award (Maryse Alberti) at the Sundance Film Festival. In 1996, the film also won the Best Documentary award at the National Society of Film Critics Awards.
Crumb Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Terry Zwigoff's Crumb arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Approved by director Terry Zwigoff, this new high-definition transfer was created on a Spirit Datacine from a 16mm interpositive. Thousands of instances of dirt, debris, scratches, slices, 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."
This is a very strong high-definition transfer. Considering the original source, fine object detail is very good, clarity pleasing and contrast levels convincing. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not a serious issues of concern. Some mild noise corrections have been performed, but the healthy film grain has been preserved. Additionally, there are absolutely no stability issues whatsoever. While viewing the film, I also did not see any large cuts, marks, stains, or debris to report in this review. All in all, Crumb looks great on Blu-ray. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Crumb Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English LPCM Mono. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature. (Please note that the subtitles can be turned on only via your player's remote control).
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"The monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from 35mm monaural magnetic track. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated audio workstation."
I don't have any reservations. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable and mostly easy to follow (however, I did have to use the optional English subtitles during a couple of scenes). While viewing the film, I also did not detect any pops, cracks, hissings, or dropouts to report in this review.
Crumb Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Commentary - an audio commentary with Terry Zwigoff recorded in San Francisco in April 2010. This is a wonderful, relaxed and very informative commentary. Director Zwigoff spends a great deal of time discussing the production history of Crumb, his relationship with Robert Crumb, his work, etc.
Commentary - an audio commentary with film critic Roger Ebert and director Zwigoff, which was recorded in Austin, Texas, in 2006. The overwhelming amount of the comments here focus on specific portions of the film, director Zwigoff's fascination with Crumb, his work, etc. Ebert apparently was very impressed by Crumb after he saw it at the Sundance Film Festival.
Unused footage (52 min, 1080p) -
-- Squirrely The Squirrel
-- The Early Days
-- The O'Farrell Theatre*
-- Sex Life Before And After Fame
-- Robert's Collections
-- Stories About Charles Sr.
-- Family Comics And Letters From Charles
-- Going To The Mall
-- The Politics Of Rich And Poor
-- Robert's Artistic Musings
-- Cheap Suit Serenaders*
-- Letters To Marty Pahls
-- Maxon's Hostility
-- Defining Great Art
(*with optional commentary by director Zwigoff).
Stills gallery -
Booklet - 28-page illustrated booklet containing film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum's essay "Crumb Reconsidered", reproductions and more.
Crumb Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Terry Zwigoff's Crumb is a strange but fascinating documentary about an incredibly talented and often misunderstood artist. As usual, Criterion have made sure that the film looks and sounds as best as possible on Blu-ray. The disc also contains two outstanding audio commentaries. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Crumb Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion Blu-ray in August: Black Orpheus, Crumb - May 15, 2010
The Criterion Collection has announced two titles for release on Blu-ray in August. On August 10, the studio will release the award-winning documentary Crumb (Terry Zwigoff, 1994), and a week later, the classic Black Orpheus (Orfeu negro, Marcel Camus, 1959). Both ...
Crumb Blu-ray Screenshots
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