Piano (The) (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Icon Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (15th October 2013).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Mute pianist, Ada, arrives in 19th Century New Zealand, with her daughter and beloved piano, as the reluctant participant in an arranged marriage. Of all her belongings her husband abandons only the piano, selling it to his illiterate neighbour, Baines. Unable to bear its certain destruction, Ada strikes a bargain to earn back her piano despite the unusual conditions attached.

A tour de force in filmmaking, The Piano received three Academy Awards including Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress.

Video

Icon Home Entertainment release the critically acclaimed movie The Piano onto blu-ray for the Australian locality in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It uses an AVC MPEG-4 codec and is 1080i/50. Unfortunately, the picture quality is not to the standard one would hope for such a title.

The biggest problem with the transfer is how inconsistent it is. Some scenes can look rather stellar, before the film cuts to the next scene and we get a large amount of grain and a complete lack of detail. In many scenes, there is no clarity between the various shades of dark clothing, and there is no detail in the threads, or cuts of the clothing - resulting in a poor amount of shadow detail. Skintones are generally okay, though in scenes in the beginning that feature Harvey Keitel, the colour tones feel a little washed out. Although there are no large amounts of damage to the print by way of scratches, there was some occasional artifacting, but it wasn't overly noticeable. The picture here is of a higher quality than the DVDs I have viewed, but there is certainly room for a lot of improvement.

The disc is a BD25 and the feature runs 115:36. It's also region free.

Audio

There is a single audio option available here:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

It's not a bad track, and with it being dialogue heavy (even though the main character is a mute!), the surrounds perhaps aren't used as much as other movies. Still, you get the very subtle sound of insects and wind which are very well done, and then the score also makes good use of the surrounds. I did find that the volume levels of the piano were sometimes a little high in comparison to the rest of the track, but nothing that warranted worrying about. Dialogue was clear at all times, and there were no dropouts or scratches to speak of. Some background hiss does make a couple of appearances, but the hiss is slight and short-lived.

There are English subtitles for the hard-of-hearing with sound effects appearing on-screen in parenthesis.

Extras

The main extra on the disc, is an audio commentary with writer/director Jane Campion and producer Jan Chapman. Campion takes charge, with Chapman only chipping in to keep the conversation going. They discuss the usual topics, from the casting and the story, to various roles the crew had in the production. There are several anecdotes dotted about, but the commentary remains a semi-serious and professional affair. There are no dull spots, and it is a pleasant track to listen to. Although Campion is the main contributor, I think she would've perhaps struggled without Chapman.

The next extra is a making of featurette entitled "Inside the Piano" (15:07). This featurette is obviously from a poor source from when it was produced, as it is presented here in a rather beat-up appearance. It's quite a typical making of, using clips from the movie interspersed with interviews from the principal cast and crew. Interviewed are director Jane Campion, actress Holly Hunter, actor Harvey Keitel and actor Sam Neill.

We finish up with a theatrical trailer (2:26).

Overall

The Film: B+ Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: C Overall: B-

 


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