Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Arrow Video announces a new classic cinema imprint Arrow Academy

It's no secret that I'm a bit of a fanboy for ARROW VIDEO releases, and why wouldn't I be? Their releases are some of the most comprehensive and lovingly assembled genre titles available today. Now they've gone and started-up a new imprint called ARROW ACADEMY through which they will be releasing classic repertory cinema titles beginning with Vittorio De Sica's timeless classic Bicycle Thieves (1948) in March and to be followed by Henri-Georges Clouzot's thriller Les Diaboliques (1955) in April. This is outstanding news for film fans! Here's the info so far...

Arrow Academy is a new label celebrating the best in world cinema launching in March 2011.

As the once common repertory cinema dies off Arrow Academy aims to be your at-home repertory cinema, where you can make rich cinematic discoveries and enjoy films with optimal picture and audio presentation, brand new special features to contextualize and comment upon the film for that essential post screening discussion as well as a celebration of the art of the film poster with alternate poster designs, viewable through the front package 'poster frame'.

Arrow Academy lovingly takes its name from one of the most famous repertory cinemas; the Academy 1-2-3 where many critics, writers, filmmakers and cineastes first discovered a new kind of cinema, which celebrated the cinema poster with new artwork designs by the famed Peter Strausfeld.

Arrow Academy launches with a line-up of some of the greatest works to grace the cinema screen, presented in brand new restorations, with new special features and artwork.

The first two titles in the range will be Vittorio De Sica's timeless classic Bicycle Thieves and following in April Henri-Georges Clouzot's masterful thriller Les diaboliques.

BICYCLE THIEVES (1948) Blu-ray
Cat No: FCD380
Release Date: March 28th 2011

CAST: Lamberto Maggiorani, Enzo Staiola, Lianella Carell
DIRECTOR: Vittorio De Sica
DURATION: 89 mins

OVERVIEW:  Heralded as the greatest film ever made on release, winning an Oscar in 1949 and topping the Sight & Sound film poll in 1952, De Sica’s seminal work of Italian neorealism has had an impact on cinema worldwide from release to the present day, with filmmakers such as Satyajit Ray and Ken Loach claiming the film as a direct influence on their own.

Bicycle Thieves tells the story of Antonio, a long unemployed man who finally finds employment putting up cinema posters for which he needs a bicycle. His wife pawns all the family linen to redeem the already pawned bicycle and for Antonio salvation has come, until the bicycle is stolen. Antonio and his son take to the streets in a desperate search to find the bicycle. Bicycle Thieves is as much about the position of Italians in post-War, post-Fascist Italy as the relationship between father and son, told through the labyrinth of the cinematic city with De Sica’s arresting visual poetry. Defining neorealism, a small period of filmmaking that focused on simple, humanist stories, Bicycle Thieves was one of the most captivating and moving.

Arrow Academy presents Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

- Brand new restored, high definition transfer (1080p)
- Newly translated and more complete optional English subtitles
- Original Trailer
- Feature length audio commentary by Italian Cinema expert Robert Gordon, author of BFI Modern Classics 'Bicycle Thieves'
- ‘Cesare Zavattini’ a feature length documentary by director Carlo Lizzani on the great screenwriter, novelist, critic, long time De Sica collaborator and founder of Italian neorealism
- ‘Timeless Cinema’, a documentary portrait of director, actor and screenwriter Vittorio De Sica
- Comprehensive booklet featuring a brand new essay on the film as well as screenwriter Cesare Zavattini’s essay 'Some Ideas on the Cinema', illustrated with original stills and Lobby Cards
- Artwork presentation packaging including three original posters and a newly commissioned artwork cover

LES DIABOLIQUES (1955) Blu-ray
Cat No: FCD500
Release Date: April 18th 2011

CAST: Simone Signoret, Paul Meurisse, Véra Clouzot
DIRECTOR: Henri-Georges Clouzot
DURATION: 117 mins

OVERVIEW: After the success of The Wages of Fear (Le salaire de la peur) Henri-Georges Clouzot cemented his reputation with his masterpiece, Les diaboliques.

Based on a novel by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac (who also wrote the novel on which Hitchcock’s Vertigo is based), Les diaboliques tells the story of a sadistic headmaster (Paul Meurisse) who brutalises his wife and mistress (Véra Clouzot and Simone Signoret) and their plot to murder him. Superbly edited with nail-biting suspense, the two women murder the headmaster and dump the body in the swimming pool, but when the pool is drained no corpse is found. An unsettling and beautifully-paced study of betrayal, mistrust and guilt, Les diaboliques is atmospherically shot in black and white, its murky tones hauntingly echo the moral ambiguity of its principals.

An acknowledged influence on Alfred Hitchcock and Stanley Kubrick among others, Les diaboliques is presented on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

- Brand new High Definition transfer of the film from a new restoration of the original negative
- Audio commentary by Susan Hayward, author of Les diaboliques (Cine-file French Film Guides)
- Original Trailer
- Filmed interview with Ginette Vincendeau, French cinema scholar, critic and author
- Original Trailer
- Brand new writing on the film by author and critic Brad Stevens and a re-printed interview with Clouzot by Paul Schrader illustrated with stills and rare original set drawings by Léon Barsacq.
- Artwork presentation packaging including original posters and a newly commissioned artwork cover