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The Duke Of Burgundy (Blu-ray Review)

Duke-Of-BurgandyDripping with sumptuously surreal imagery, the critically acclaimed The Duke of Burgundy is a deliciously twisted tale of erotic obsession. Written and directed by Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio), this romantically lush yet darkly humorous film will make its Blu-ray and DVD debut September 29th from Shout! Factory, in partnership with Sundance Selects.  A mesmerizing ode to Giallo and European art house cinema, The Duke of Burgundy features a lush chamber pop score by Cat’s Eyes and comes loaded with bonus features, including an interview with director Peter Strickland, audio commentary track with Peter Strickland, deleted scenes, a Cat’s Eyes music video, Peter Strickland’s short film Conduct Phase and more!

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Film 

In a crumbling European estate, butterfly researcher Cynthia and her lover Evelyn repeatedly enact a sadomasochistic role-playing game, with Cynthia as the stern mistress and Evelyn her subservient  slave. But as the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, and Cynthia grows increasingly uneasy with Evelyn’s insatiable appetite for punishment, their relationship is pushed to the limit.

The Duke Of Burgundy felt like the most beautifully shot and expertly directed episodes of something like a Red Shoe Diaries I have ever seen.  The story is a soft core one right out of those “going back to the past” episodes.  Yes, I admit, I’ve seen that show (that once featured David Duchovny and Matt LeBlanc), no shame in that.  I was young once, and I’m sure others of my generation know exactly what I’m talking about.

However, the film would probably benefit at being the length of one of those episodes as the luster of watching some greatly blocked scenes and expertly shot scenarios eventually becomes not enough to hold interest.  Some of the conflicts and moments could have hurried along and resolved much faster than a bit of the slog they were.  Still, its done well, its just not a story that was captivating me much after the first act.

I’m sure there are those out there who this is for that will go ahead and tell me I’m wrong.  That’s fine, I freely admit that this film was not for me.  I give it credit for its technical merits (direction, acting, cinematography) and high praise, I just wasn’t feeling this story at all.  I was finding myself checking the time and getting a little restless in my seat for much of it.  It needed to go a little beyond the sex sequences and do more than that for my appeal.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

Clarity/Detail:  Shout! Factory’s transfer of The Duke of Burgundy looks plenty marvelous here on Blu-ray.  Detail is very high and the image is that of a bold and striking one.  The image is sharp, clear and features fresh clean detail from scene to scene.

Depth:  Depth is pretty outstanding.  Movement is cinematic and clarity is top of the line.

Black Levels: Blacks are rich and a hint of inky.  No real detail hidden or crushing witnessed.  Black sweetly helped to enrich and define the imagery.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are bold and pretty gorgeous throughout.  Everything appears luscious and there is a nice palette on display.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones were accurate and consistent throughout.  There is a lot of detail of freckles, make-up, wrinkles and plenty of texture.

Noise/Artifacts: None

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a very nice sounding track with a big time 7.1 mix.  The vocals, music and effects are all well rounded and free of one another in a loose mix.

Low Frequency Extension:  Some knocking around and scoring hits get a boost from the subwoofer, but its not a major player here.

Surround Sound Presentation:  7.1 might be a bit excessive, but the mix does make use of the channels in plenty of areas.  The front speakers garner most of the attention and have an accurate depiction of the action and volume placement.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp, clean and set to a perfect volume.

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Extras 

The Duke Of Burgundy comes with a DVD copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Peter Strickland

Director Interview (HD, 11:34) – Peter Strickland takes us through his process of creating, casting and making the film.

Deleted Scenes (HD, 44:23) 

Conduct Phase (HD, 8:11) – A short film shot on Super 8 about some dogs.

Cat’s Eyes (HD, 4:55) – A promo music video of sorts.  You can find some nice gross shots of inside the woman’s mouth as she’s singing.

Trailer (HD, 1:58)

Still Gallery (HD, 8:11) – A lot of preproduction photograhpy, onset photos, character test photos and poster art.

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Summary 

I’m gonna be honest, this movie really wasn’t my bag at all.  However, from a technical standpoint, there was plenty for me to appreciate.  Shout! Factory has delivered a Blu-ray that looks very pristine in both audio and video departments.  There is also a good load of informative and time consuming extras at your disposal as well.  If you’re a fan of the film, you’ll be very happy picking this up.

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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