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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 3 Discs
FEATURES

Insiang

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Lino Brocka
1976 | 94 Minutes | Licensor: World Cinema Project

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $124.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #874
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: May 30, 2017
Review Date: May 27, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

Jealousy and violence take center stage in the sweltering, claustrophobic melodrama Insiang, a beautifully acted and tautly constructed character study set in the slums of Manila. Director Lino Brocka crafts an eviscerating portrait of women scorned, led by Filipina stars Hilda Koronel and Mona Lisa, who portray an innocent daughter and her bitter mother. Insiang (Koronel) leads a quiet life dominated by household duties, but after she is raped by her motherís brutish lover and abandoned by the young man who claims to care for her, she exacts vicious revenge. A savage commentary on the degradation of urban social conditions under modern capitalism, Insiang introduced Filipino cinema to international audiences by being the first film from the country ever to play at Cannes.


PICTURE

Years after releasing their initial World Cinema Project box set (featuring a number of overlooked films from around the world recently restored by Martin Scorseseís Film Foundation) the Criterion Collection finally brings us their second volume featuring another six films. The first film in the set is Lino Brockaís Insiang, presented here in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. Opting to release the set only in a dual-format edition (there are no separate DVD or Blu-ray only editions), Insiang shares the same dual-layer Blu-ray with Mysterious Object at Noon but receives its own dual-layer DVD. The Blu-ray presents the film in 1080p/24hz while the DVD presents a standard-definition version utilizing the same master.

The 4K restoration comes from a new scan of the original camera negative but the notes that appear before the film (and in the setís included booklet) mention that two scenes come from a later generation theatrical print (provided by the BFI) because deterioration was too severe. Due to a slight drop in sharpness and a slight difference in black levels I suspect these two scenes being referenced pop up in the last reel of the film but the good news is that the restoration work is so on point itís actually pretty hard to isolate the two scenes in question.

Overall the image is a very pleasant surprise. It looks great, in fact itís almost pristine, which is not what I was expecting after watching Scorseseís introduction where he mentions how hard it is to not only to see one of Brockaís films but to also see them in a decent print. I donít know how this one looked before it was restored (I do wish there were restoration demonstrations on some of these titles) but whatever the case it is virtually spotless now. I donít recall any significant blemishes ever appearing during the film and it could almost pass as new. It looks shockingly good in this regard.

The digital presentation is also really good. It renders film grain rather well, looking natural and free of any noise. Details are incredibly sharp (the curls in Bebotís hair are especially prominent here) and depth looks decent in some of the interior shots. Colours lean warmer and the black levels can be weak, crushing out shadow detail in some night scenes, but I still found colours saturation pleasing.

Despite some minor issues this is a really strong presentation. Iím not sure how much work the film needed but the end product is impressive, aided by a strong digital encode.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Since no restoration demonstration has been included with this release for this film (or any of the films) I canít say how badly deteriorated the source materials would have been, but judging from some of Scorseseís comments in his introduction they more than likely werenít pretty, so I feel the picture we get is nothing short of a miracle.

Unfortunately it appears time has been less forgiving to the filmís audio track, presented here in lossless LPCM 1.0 mono. The notes on the restoration make mention that the audio was put through a number of processes to clean up damage, crackling, and background noise but the audio is still problematic. Music is a bit of a nightmare, sounding especially distorted but all of the dialogue has a really harsh edge to it. Surprisingly I didnít notice any drops, pops, or cracks but the distortion we get is pretty heavy.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

The set presents six films, each film coming with an introduction and then another video supplement. This review will focus specifically on the features included with Insiang.

Like all of the films in the set we first get a 2-minute introduction by Martin Scorsese, who talks about Lino Brockaís work and the restoration of the film. This is then followed by an interview with ďfilm enthusiastĒ and historian Pierre Rissient. Rissient was an early advocate for the film, getting it to show at Cannes (though not as a contender). Here he recalls first seeing it and explaining what struck him about it. He also talks a bit about Brockaís other work, which ranged from film to television to stage plays, Rissient comparing him to Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Itís only 15-minutes but as the filmís lone supplement (not counting the intro) it works as an okay primer on the directorís work and also contextualizes the time period around when the film was made.

3/10

CLOSING

The restoration for Insiang is an impressive piece of work and Criterion delivers it perfectly here. A great way to open Criterionís new World Cinema Project box set.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

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