Review: The Bird With the Crystal Plumage

Blu-ray and DVD: The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970)

Dario Argento hit the screen with a bang (well, multiple stabs to be more precise) with his directorial debut The Bird With the Crystal Plumage. Setting the scene for his many giallo movies to follow, TBWTCP contains twists, turns, clues and red herrings aplenty as you you try to work out who is responsible for a series of murders.

American writer Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) witnesses a brutal knife attack on a woman in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help her as she barely survives from a stabbing to the stomach, Sam becomes increasingly obsessed with the case and is tortured by the thought that he saw something significant that evening that he can now not bring to mind. Inspector Morosini (Enrico Maria Salerno) asks for his assistance, and against the better judgment of Sam’s girlfriend Julia (Suzy Kendall), Sam gets involved personally in the case and puts both himself and Julia on the hit list of the killer. Can the case be solved in time before they are both victims too?

TBWTCP is a beautifully crafted movie in both story and visuals. The narrative twists and turns leaving you convinced that you know the identity of the killer, before various subtle clues are hinted at which makes you doubt your judgement. All supported by luxurious cinematography by Vittorio Stovano and an epic score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone.

The violence, while shocking, is still just a precursor to the even more extreme blood spilling that will be in later Argento movies. However, I have always found the build up to the kills in Argento’s movies far more terrifying than the act itself, and TBWTCP is no exception. The killer toys with victims like a cat with a mouse, looking into their eyes and telling them exactly what is going to happen before the knife plunges into flesh, and then blood splatters across the walls and floors accompanied by a scream of both pain and submission.

TBWTCP is a stunning directorial debut that is a visual and aural pleasure, rewarding repeat viewings as you now look out for those subtle clues that you may well have missed upon first viewing.

It has also never looked or sounded as good as it does on this brand new 4K restoration of the movie from its camera negative in its original 2:35:1 aspect ratio.

To give away too much of the plot would be to take away a huge amount of enjoyment if this would be your first viewing. Suffice it to say, one viewing of TBWTCP is never enough and this is an essential purchase for all Dario Argento fans, and a damn fine entry point if you are new to his movies.

Once again Arrow Films go above and beyond with their special features.


  • Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the camera negative in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
  • English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
  • The Power of Perception, a new visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study
  • New analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger
  • New interview with writer/director Dario Argento
  • New interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp
  • Double-sided fold-out poster
  • 6 Lobby Card reproductions
  • Limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook


Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Fetch Publicity from Arrow Films.