- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English SDH
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: R
- Run Time: 120 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Criterion Collection
- Blu-ray Release Date: August 28, 2012
- List Price: $39.95
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Quadrophenia may not be the most famous of the Who’s two rock operas or concept albums, that accolade arguably going to the band’s 1969 album Tommy, but in retrospect, Quadrophenia may be a much more powerful and introspective piece of work. Like Tommy, 1973′s Quadrophenia album would eventually be made into a film of its own, but unlike the post-modern pop art that would be the former’s big screen outing, Quadrophenia, which the Who oversaw themselves, would be a more down to Earth, gritty tale in the typically British genre of the angry young man. Ostensibly about the rivalry between the emerging youth sub-culture in the 1960s, the Mods, and their leather-clad motorcycle riding counterparts the Rockers, the film’s protagonist, the Mod Jimmy (Phil Daniels), and the non-stop rocking soundtrack are the real stars of the film. Phil Daniels who stands in for Roger Daltrey, plays the troubled youth who battles it out with the Rockers, falls for the beautiful Mod Steph (Leslie Ash), and, after things reach a fever pitch between the rival gangs in the quiet beach town of Brighton, Jimmy loses Steph to a fellow mod, and butts heads with his family back home in London, taking off to Brighton once again to sort himself out. Nowhere in the film is it ever truly conveyed that Jimmy is a schizophrenic or, “quadrophrenic,” as the album’s theme implies, but Daniels puts in a charismatic performance nonetheless as the troubled youth. There is no denying the irresistible soundtrack filled with both hits from the album including “Love Reign O’er Me” and “5:15” and the music of such greats as James Brown and Manfred Mann. Sting also puts in an early acting appearance as the icy cool mod Ace Face, spiky, bleached-blond hair in tact.
(Editor’s Note: For a different take, read our Quadrophenia [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review by Lawrence Devoe)
Quadrophenia has always been a rather drab and gritty looking film, grain haters need not apply. This Criterion Collection transfer, encoded in AVC/MPEG-4 1080p in a 1.85:1 framing is no exception and, if anything, really highlights just how grainy and gritty the film actually is. There’s a lot of high frequency information here, so the image is rather sharp and textured, but never noisy. There’s lots of natural grain still present, especially in the very dark and dimmer scenes. In all, I’d say it looks very close to the original 35mm source and what Quadrophenia is meant to look like.
As The Who’s sound engineer points out in the featurette on this very release, Quadrophenia was originally conceived as a Quadrophonic (4.0) production, which is not surprising given the title and the time period of both album and film. As such, you owe it to yourself to avoid the rather muddled original stereo soundtrack provided here at LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit) which has taken a journey from 8-track, to 12-track, to 24-track reel-to-reel, each time the previous tracks being duplicated onto the new multitracks at a generational loss. The new 5.1 mix in DTS-HD Master Audio (48kHz/24-bit) has been completely reconstructed with the original tracks being digitally transferred from their multitrack original sources into Pro Tools before being remixed into what is a brilliant and engulfing 5.1 experience. From the opening scene on the beach, the sound of breezes completely surround you. The original music of Quadrophenia is also mixed in the original, discrete spirit of a Quadrophonic production, with vocals, keyboards, guitars, and you name it, coming from all around you. Keith Moon’s drums on this album never sounded so powerful and punchy. Dialogue is also quite clear, just in case you were wondering.
As per usual, Criterion Collection have loaded this one up with lots of extras pertinent to the film. Of particular interest to music lovers with be the episode of Seize millions de jeunes featuring a performance by the Who at The Marquee club and the soundtrack reconstruction featurette with longtime Who audio engineer Bob Pridden.
- Audio commentary by director Franc Roddam and cinematographer Brian Tufano recorded in London in April 2012 for the Criterion Collection.
- Talking Pictures (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 00:26:06) – Segment from the BBC series Talking Pictures originally aired on September 7, 1979, just before the release of Quadrophenia in the United Kingdom, It features interviews with director Franc Roddam, the Who’s Roger Daltrey, and Sting, who plays Ace the Face in the film.
- Mods and Rockers:
- Sept jours du monde (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 00:08:19) – This segment from the May 22, 1964 episode of the French television news show Sept jour du monde is presented by Jacques Ertaud. It speaks about the feud between “mods” and “rockers.”
- Seize millions de jeunes (1.33:1; 1080i/60; 00:34:30) – An episode of the French television show Seize millions de jeunes. Entitled “Mods,” it originally aired on March 18, 1965, and is presented by Jean Lajournade and Alain de Sedouy. Features interviews with Co-manager of The Who, Kit Lambert, Pete Townshend, and a performance by The Who at the Marquee Club in London’s West End, where the band was in residence during 1964 and 1965.
- Bill Curbishley (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:14:42) – Interview with Quadrophenia coproducer Bill Curbishley conducted by the Criterion Collection in London in 2012. Curbishley has managed the Who since the mind-1970s.
- Bob Pridden (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:07:49)– For this release of Quadrophenia, the Criterion Collection worked with Bob Pridden, the Who’s sound engineer for over thirty years, to create a new 5.1 surround mix of the band’s music in the film. The songs were meticulously restored and in some cases reconstructed from the original source recordings; the final mix was approved by the Who’s Pete Townshend. Presented here is a brief interview with Pridden and a restoration demonstration comparing the previous home video soundtrack and picture with those of this release.
- Trailers (1080i/60)
- Booklet: Featuring an essay by critic Nick James, a reprinted personal history by original mod Irish Jack, and Pete Townshend’s liner notes from the album.
The Definitive Word
The definitive version of what is perhaps the most overlooked of the Who’s rock operas to everyone outside of the most ardent Who fans, this Criterion Collection edition of Quadrophenia on Blu-ray is a winner through and through. The spectacular reconstruction of the powerful soundtrack alone is worth the price of admission.
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