Arrow Academy, the “art house” label of Arrow films posted their January 2018 Blu-ray announcements this morning, including a very interesting sounding Italian supernatural anthology film, starring the radiantly beautiful Silvana Mangano (Bitter Rice).
Please note: Not all of the titles below will be released in the U.S., and those that are “U.K. only” are not likely to be playable in American Blu-ray players, due to distribution rights.
Listed below are the disc descriptions directly from the Arrow Academy Facebook page. The releases are clearly marked as either “UK/US” or “UK Only”:
NEW UK/US TITLES: The Witches (Blu-ray and DVD releases)
A stunning homage to Italian comic books.
Release Dates: 8/9 January
In the mid-sixties, famed producer Dino De Laurentiis brought together the talents of five famed Italian directors for an anthology film. Their brief was simple: to direct an episode in which Silvana Mangano (Bitter Rice, Ludwig) plays a witch.
Luchino Visconti (Ossessione, Death in Venice) and screenwriter Cesare Zavattini (Bicycle Thieves) open the film with The Witch Burned Alive, about a famous actress and a drunken evening that leads to unpleasant revelations. Civic Sense is a lightly comic interlude from Mauro Bolognini (The Lady of the Camelias) with a dark conclusion, and The Earth as Seen from the Moon sees Italian comedy legend Totò team up with Pier Paolo Pasolini (Theorem) for the first time for a tale of matrimony and a red-headed father and son. Franco Rosso (The Woman in the Painting) concocts a story of revenge in The Sicilian’s Wife, while Vittorio De Sica (Shoeshine) casts Clint Eastwood as Mangano’s estranged husband in An Evening Like the Others, concluding The Witches with a stunning homage to Italian comic books.
SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY CONTENTS
- Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original Italian mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
- Brand-new audio commentary by film critic and novelist Tim Lucas
- Interview with actor Ninetto Davoli, recorded exclusively for this release English-language version of Vittorio De Sica’s episode, An Evening Like the Others, starring Clint Eastwood
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Pasquale Iannone and Kat Ellinger
NEW UK/US TITLES: Viva l’Italia (Blu-ray and DVD releases)
Restored by Arrow Films from the original negative, this disc marks the first UK home video release of Viva l’Italia in any format.
Release Dates: 29/30 January
“Viva l’Italia is a documentary made after the event, trying to figure out what happened. I tried to place myself in front of the events of a century ago, the way a documentarist would have done who had the good fortune to follow Garibaldi’s campaign with his camera.” Roberto Rossellini
To celebrate the centenary of Italy, the Italian government commissioned Rossellini to make a biopic of Giuseppe Garibaldi, one that would follow his exploits with ‘the Thousand’ and their role in the country’s unification. Rossellini approached the film as he had Francesco, giullare di Dio, presenting the main character in neo-realist mode, as though making a documentary.
Restored by Arrow Films from the original negative, this disc marks the first UK home video release of Viva l’Italia in any format, allowing English-speaking audience to discover another Rossellini classic.
SPECIAL EDITION BLU-RAY CONTENTS
- Brand new 2K restoration from the original negative
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original Italian mono soundtracks with optional English subtitles
- Garibaldi, an alternate shorter cut of the film originally prepared for the US market
- Brand-new interview with Roberto Rossellini’s assistant on the film, Ruggero Deodato, recorded exclusively for this release
- “I Am Garibaldi”, a brand-new visual essay by Tag Gallagher, author of The Adventures of Roberto Rossellini: His Life and Films
- Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by filmmaker and critic Michael Pattison
NEW UK TITLE: The Mystery of Picasso (Blu-ray and DVD releases)
One of the greatest documentary portraits of an artist at work.
Release Date: 22 January
Henri-Georges Clouzot, best known for his classic French thriller Les Diaboliques, took on a different mystery in 1956: the creative process and the essence of an artist, namely Pablo Picasso.
Utilising transparent canvases so the camera of Claude Renoir could directly capture an artwork’s creation, Picasso created 20 artworks for the film. At first, these are simple sketches in marker, but each grows in complexity until the final reel, when The Mystery of Picasso switches to a CinemaScope ratio and bursts into colour.
One of the greatest documentary portraits of an artist of work, this release is accompanied by two other films of Picasso: Paul Haesaerts’ BAFTA-winning A Visit to Picasso from 1949 and a charming ‘home movie’ by fellow artist Man Ray.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation, from materials supplied by Gaumont
- Original French mono audio (uncompressed LPCM)
- Optional English subtitles
- A Visit to Picasso, Paul Haesaerts’ 1949 BAFTA-winning documentary on the painter, capturing Picasso at work in his Vallauris studio
- La Garoupe, a 1937 ‘home movie’ by Man Ray, in black and white and colour, of Picasso and friends holidaying near Antibes
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by maarko phntm
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by author and illustrator John Coulthart
NEW UK TITLE: Three Films by Jia Zhangke (Dual Format Blu-ray + DVD) Limited Edition
This collection presents three of Jia Zhangke’s most compelling works together on DVD and Blu-ray.
Release Date: 29 January
Jia Zhangke has become widely regarded as one of world cinema’s most accomplished filmmakers and a leading figure of the Sixth Generation movement of Chinese cinema. This collection presents three of Jia’s most compelling works together on DVD and Blu-ray.
In 24 City (2008) Jia skilfully combines documentary and fiction film as he charts the transformation of a military hardware factory into a complex of luxury flats, and the social impact this has.
The Cannes prize-winner A Touch of Sin (2013) focuses on four people living across China who are driven to acts of violence. An angry miner, enraged by corruption in his village; a migrant who discovers the infinite possibilities of owning a firearm; a receptionist at a sauna who is pushed to the limit by a client, and a young factory worker drifting through the foreign-owned factories and nightclubs of the south.
Jia’s eighth feature film, Mountains May Depart (2015) is an intimate and moving drama spanning several decades which charts the impact of China’s capitalist experiment on the lives of one family.
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS:
- Limited Edition Dual Format Collection [2000 copies]
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of each film
- Original 5.1 surround sound audio (DTS-HD Master Audio on the Blu-rays) for each film
- Three interviews with director Jia Zhangke on each film, by critics including Scott Foundas and Tony Rayns
- Introductions to each film by Tony Rayns
- From Fenyang to the World: a visual essay on Jia Zhangke, looking in particular at his style and evolution as a filmmaker, by author Michael Berry
- Jia Zhangke, A Guy from Fenyang (2014, 105 mins), a feature length documentary on the life and work of the director by celebrated filmmaker Walter Salles [Limited Edition Exclusive]
- Reversible sleeves featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Scott Saslow for all films
- Booklet featuring new writing on the films by Chris Berry, Geoffrey Macnab, Jonathan Rosenbaum and Tony Rayns [Limited Edition Exclusive]