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The Blue Angel(1930)
Professor Immanuel Rath, the sexually-repressed instructor of a boys' prep school, after learning of the pupils' infatuation with French postcards depicting a local nightclub songstress, decides to personally investigate the source of such indecency. But as soon as he enters the shadowy Blue Angel nightclub and steals one glimpse of the smoldering Lola-Lola, commanding the stage in a top hat, stockings and bare thighs, Rath's self-righteous piety is crushed. He finds himself fatefully seduced by the throaty voice of the vulgar siren, singing "Falling in Love Again." Consumed by desire and tormented by his rigid propriety, Professor Rath allows himself to be dragged down a path of personal degradation.
For more about The Blue Angel and the The Blue Angel Blu-ray release, see the The Blue Angel Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 28, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Josef von Sternberg
Writers: Heinrich Mann, Carl Zuckmayer, Karl Vollmöller, Robert Liebmann, Josef von Sternberg
Starring: Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich, Kurt Gerron, Hans Albers, Rosa Valetti, Reinhold Bernt
» See full cast & crew
The Blue Angel Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 28, 2013
Josef von Sternberg's "Der blaue Engel" a.k.a "The Blue Angel" (1930) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment. The release contains the German and English-language versions of the film; original trailers; short clip from an interview with Marlene Dietrich; video essay by critic and film scholar Tag Gallagher; audio commentary by film critic and scholar Tony Rayns; and more. The release also arrives with 48-page illustrated booklet featuring Josef von Sternberg's "The Blue Angel", written in 1968 for the English publication of the original continuity script of the film, and Werner Sudendorf's "Chronicles", a timeline of the early history of the film which was originally compiled in 2001 by the chief curator at the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen, In German or English, with optional English subtitles for the German-language version of the film. Region-B "locked".
Professor Immanuel Rath (Emil Jannings, The Last Laugh, The Last Command) is a respected middle-aged man who follows strict rules in his life. He is still a bachelor, but he isn't lonely. His work keeps him busy.
One day, Professor Rath accidentally discovers that his students have started visiting a local cabaret, The Blue Angel, made popular by its star, the beautiful singer Lola Lola (Marlene Dietrich, The Scarlet Empress). He confiscates a few photos from them which immediately reveal to him why Lola Lola is so popular amongst young men - the photos leave little to their imagination. Seriously concerned about his students, Professor Rath heads to The Blue Angel to confront Lola Lola.
But Lola Lola steals Professor Rath's heart the moment he enters the cabaret. In her dressing room, while she is getting ready to perform, the half-naked singer also nearly gives Professor Rath a heart attack. Before he reluctantly leaves, a few of his students see him, steal Lola Lola's silk panties, and slip it into the pocket of his coat.
On the following night, Professor Rath visits The Blue Angel again to return Lola Lola's panties. Sensing that he has fallen under her spell, she easily seduces him and the two spend the night together. The experience has a profound impact on Professor Rath – for the first time in his life he enters his classroom late and loses his desire to be as strict as possible with his students.
Some years later. Professor Rath has lost his job and possibly his mind. But he has married the woman of his dreams and joined the cabaret performers. He has even become popular amongst the cabaret's regular clients, amongst them many of his former students and colleagues, but for all the wrong reasons. Each night, when he goes on the stage dressed as a clown, Professor Rath is humiliated by a skillful magician.
Josef von Sternberg's first film with the great Marlene Dietrich is a fascinating time capsule. It is witty, erotic, and remarkably modern for its time but also sad and strikingly cynical film. It was completed in 1930, shortly after the Wall Street crash that devastated the Weimar Republic.
There is an unusual shift in the middle of The Blue Angel. It feels like the film attempts to follow a certain set of rules up to a specific point, but then it suddenly abandons them. Then a series of surprising character transformations are revealed, all of which have something to do with morality. Professor Rath's transformation is particularly disturbing – he becomes a spineless, seriously disillusioned man who does not have the desire to defend his principles and even himself. Knowing what would take place in Germany, and Europe, after 1930, it is difficult not to view The Blue Angel as sort of a warning for the ongoing erosion of old values which will will push the country into the hands of a madman.
The Blue Angel was shot simultaneously in German and English (and both versions of the film are included on Eureka Entertainment's Blu-ray release). The majority of the principal actors were fluent in English, so shooting multiple sequences in German and English was not an issue. However, the German version of The Blue Angel, is arguably the better one. The actors clearly sound more relaxed and at ease with the lines they utter.
The film was lensed by Günther Rittau, who was also one of Fritz Lang's camera operators on his legendary film Metropolis (1927). Rittau was also Joe May's cinematographer on his brilliant silent film Asphalt (1929).
The Blue Angel Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.19:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Eureka Entertainment.
The release contains the German and English-language versions of the film. The former runs at approximately 107 minutes, while the latter runs at approximately 104 minutes. Please note that screencaptures #1-11 are from the German-language version, while screencaptures #12-22 are from the English-language version.
The German-language version looks slightly darker when compared to the English-language version of The Blue Angel. Blacks and grays are marginally better saturated as well. Generally speaking, detail and clarity range from decent to very good, but various contrast fluctuations affecting the overall integrity of the image are present on both versions. Around the edges of the frame occasionally there is also extremely light shimmer. The best news is that there are no traces of excessive sharpening or degraining corrections. On both versions there are various small scratches, damage marks, and even small vertical lines (on the English-language version I also noticed small frame skips), but the integrity of the image has been preserved as best possible -- damaging corrections to remove larger cuts, splices, and vertical lines have not been performed. Naturally, even though there are areas of the two versions that look a bit rough, both have solid organic looks. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Blue Angel Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this release: German LPCM 2.0 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record. Eureka Entertainment have provided optional English subtitles for the German-language version of The Blue Angel. There are no optional English subtitles for the English-language version of the film.
While clarity is quite good on the two lossless tracks, both are plagued with light to moderate background hiss. On the German-language version, however, its presence is at times more prominent. This said, the background hiss never becomes overly distracting, and the dialog remains easy to follow. Additionally, there are no serious audio dropouts or distortions to report in this review.
The Blue Angel Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blue Angel Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I like Eureka Entertainment's release of Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel a lot. It contains the superior, in my opinion, German-language version of the film, as well as the English-language version, which isn't included on Kino's U.S. release of the film. I think that this is an essential film to see and own that should have a reserved spot in every serious collection. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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The Blue Angel Blu-ray, News and Updates
• The Blue Angel Blu-ray - November 30, 2012
British distributors Eureka Entertainment have officially announced and detailed their upcoming Dual Format edition of Josef von Sternberg's Der blaue Engel a.k.a The Blue Angel (1930), starring Emil Jannings, Marlene Dietrich and Kurt Gerron. The release will ...
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