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Blu-ray Review: World Cinema Project: Volume 1

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World Cinema Project Volume 1


If we needed any more proof as to how wonderful Martin Scorsese was, here we have a boxset sent from cinema heaven: a box of delights from around the world featuring the weird, the compelling, the uplifting and the disturbing.

Scorsese has been involved in the restoration of these three intriguing films (and many more besides, hence this set is dubbed Volume 1) and here they are presented by Eureka’s The Masters of Cinema strand. This series is the closest thing the UK has to a Criterion Collection and they do their job brilliantly.

Founded in 2007, the World Cinema Project (originally dubbed the World Cinema Foundation) aims to restore and re-present films they believe to be neglected. Their aim refers to the films they restore as ‘masterpieces’, though I have to say that’s a pretty loose term. Not all of the films here could carry that description. However, they are all fascinating works, and some people (as do I) may indeed feel they deserve a much greater audience and appreciation than they currently have and receive. Hopefully this collection will help put this right.

The set begins with Dry Summer, a 1964 film from Turkey. This melodrama is set during a dry summer in rural Turkey. A group of workers fall into disagreements with a landowner. As things get worse, violence develops between the opposing sides leading to scenes of brutality that aren’t easy to watch.

The second feature is a bit of an odd one. Released in 1981, Trances, directed by Ahmed El Maanouni, is on one hand a documentary, on the other a performance film. The movie features Nass El Ghiwane performing their music and discussing experiences and influences. Scorsese has expressed love for this film, saying that it became his inspiration for ‘many of the designs and construction’ of The Last Temptation of Christ.

A Kazakhstani epic is the third film in the set, and for me it was probably the most interesting. Set mostly in Korea and China and spanning over thirty years, this is a story of long-burning hatred and revenge after the shocking murder of a child ruins the lives of a cluster of quiet rural folk. Beautifully shot, the film looks stunning in this new Blu-ray version, especially on a big HD screen. Some viewers may not react favourably to some of the scenes of animal cruelty, however.

This vibrant and varied collection offer superb transfers of each film. Of course, image and sound quality is subject, as always, to the conditions of film negatives, but the transfers Masters of Cinema provide are typically superb. This is the collection every cinefile should be asking for this Christmas.

The World Cinema Project: Volume 1is released on Blu-ray and DVD duel format box set on 25 November 2013. 

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