Review: ‘The Bird With the Crystal Plumage’ Limited Edition UHD
4K UHD Blu-ray: 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 UHD release, with hitherto details that were lost in the darkness now being visible, as well as highlighting the use of colour that Argento is always so good with.
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.
This limited edition release also comes loaded with extras that flesh everything out in an interesting and informative way.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
- New 4K restoration from the original negative by Arrow Films
- 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
- Restored original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
- English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
- Audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
- Black Gloves and Screaming Mimis, an interview with author and critic Kat Ellinger exploring the film’s themes and its relationship to both the giallo and Fredric Brown’s novel The Screaming Mimi
- The Power of Perception, a visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexanda Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria and The Giallo Canvas: Art, Excess and Horror Cinema, reflecting on the recurring theme of perception and the role of art in Argento’s filmography
- Crystal Nightmare, an interview with writer/director Dario Argento
- An Argento Icon, an interview with actor Gildo Di Marco
- Eva’s Talking, an archival interview with actor Eva Renzi
- Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
- 2017 Texas Frightmare trailer
- Image galleries
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook, and a new essay by Rachael Nisbet
- Fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative
- Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards
- Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring originally and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative
Review by Dave from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films via Fetch Publicity.