Home Page  
 
 

SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • Tagalog PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Introduction by filmmaker Martin Scorsese
  • Signed: Lino Brocka, a 1987 documentary about the director by Christian Blackwood
  • “Manila” . . . A Filipino Film, a 1975 documentary about the making of the film, featuring Lino Brocka and actors Hilda Koronel and Rafael Roco Jr.
  • New piece with critic, filmmaker, and festival programmer Tony Rayns
  • An essay by film scholar José B. Capino

Manila in the Claws of Light

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Lino Brocka
1975 | 125 Minutes | Licensor: World Cinema Project

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #926
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: June 12, 2018
Review Date: June 11, 2018

Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca

Share:

SYNOPSIS

Lino Brocka broke through to international acclaim with this candid portrait of 1970s Manila, the second film in the director’s turn to more serious-minded filmmaking after building a career on mainstream films he described as “soaps.” A young fisherman from a provincial village arrives in the capital on a quest to track down his girlfriend, who was lured there with the promise of work and hasn’t been heard from since. In the meantime, he takes a low-wage job at a construction site and witnesses life on the streets, where death strikes without warning, corruption and exploitation are commonplace, and protests hint at escalating civil unrest. Mixing visceral, documentary-like realism with the narrative focus of Hollywood noir and melodrama, Manila in the Claws of Light is a howl of anguish from one of the most celebrated figures in Philippine cinema.


PICTURE

Criterion presents Lino Brocka’s Manila in the Claws of Light on Blu-ray, delivering the film in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in 1080p/24hz on a dual-layer disc. The release is making use of the 2013 restoration performed by the Film Development Council of the Philippines and the Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. The new restoration comes from a 4K scan of the 35mm original camera negative.

This is yet another presentation where the restoration work looks good and the digital encode is solid, ultimately lending an excellent film-like texture to it, but its hampered by a heavy yellow tint that has been blanketed over the entire image. It’s again possible this is the intended look (it was supervised by producer/cinematographer Mike De Leon) but, as is common with other presentations similar to this, it messes with other aspects, particularly the black levels. The black levels are more milky, never black, and crushing is an issue in many of the film’s darker shots, severely flattening things.

At the very least, though, the image is still sharp while also rendering film grain exceptionally well. The restoration work is also very impressive, with very little damage remaining, the only noticeable problem are a few quick shots where thin stains rain through. It’s impressive in all of these other areas (even the opening black and white sequence, which looks neutrally balanced in relation to its blacks and whites) but the colours throw it off and weaken the film’s darker shots and sequences.

7/10

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.

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

Screen Capture

AUDIO

Though the picture has been impressively restored (ignoring the questionable colours mind you) it sounds as though the audio restoration was a bit more limited. Though the dialogue does sound clear it still comes off distorted and tinny. Music also sounds rough. I think a lot of this just comes down to the original recordings and not anything to do with the restoration. At the very least, though, whatever restoration work could be done has been done and there are no sever pops or drops, though there is still some faint background noise.

5/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion puts together a rather wonderful special edition for the film. The supplements start off with a short 2-minute introduction by Martin Scorsese followed by a 1975 making-of documentary ”Manila”… A Filipino Film”, made by cinematographer/producer Mike De Leon. It’s a fairly decent making-of, featuring behind-the-scene footage (including the filming of the construction site accident, which proved difficult to light) and interviews with Brocka and members of the cast. It covers all the checks you’d expect from a making-of of this sort but it is an above average one, with its strongest portion being when Brocka talks about casting locals in background roles in place of professional extras. It runs 23-minutes.

The best feature, though, is the one I was least looking forward to watching. Despite always liking material on directors I’m not at all familiar with—like Brocka—I must confess that after watching an endless number of biographical documentaries that seem to follow similar templates it gets a bit tiring and I’m at a point where it’s getting a little harder to watch them, so I wasn’t at all motivated to watch the one included here. Yet the 84-minute 1987 film Signed: Lino Brocka turns out to be a rather wonderful inclusion and an unbelievably engaging affair. Yes, it follows a template: childhood, family, school, how subject got into film, subject’s early work, turning point in work, current work. But through new interviews with Brocka we get to through all of this with the director himself, who is a delightful story teller. This also includes rather passionate discussions about film (not just his) and his country (and the type of films his fellow citizens like to watch), along with the various issues that have come up between him and his country’s government over his work. It’s a unexpectedly enjoyable documentary, even complete with seeing the director at work thanks to some behind-the-scene footage, which I think mostly revolves around the film Maging akin ka lamang. Well worthwhile and a fairly breezy 84-minutes.

Exclusive to this edition is a new interview with Tony Rayns, here to give some historical context behind the film (from the political and social climate of the time to details about the construction industry) and to talk about the source novel and this adaptation, which changes some rather significant things, like the opening. As usual Rayns comes prepared and his 19-minute extra proves to be a superb academic feature.

The included insert includes a nice write-up about the film, Filipino cinema and Brocka’s place in it, written by José B. Capino. He also makes mention of an entire deleted sequence that would have added an interesting layer to the film, but he only mentions this sequence—pretty much removed at request—has never been restored to the film and doesn’t give any indication if it still exists. If it does still exist it seems like an unfortunate exclusion, though I’m unsure how easily it could have been obtained by Criterion if it did exist.

Despite the lack of any deleted material, though, and the fact there are really only a handful of special features, this ends up being a rather comprehensive collection.

8/10

CLOSING

The special features prove especially satisfying but the actual presentation for the film feels lacking. The audio is what it is in the end but the image, despite a terrific encode and extraordinary clean-up job, is hampered by yellow tint that manages to crush and flatten the image. It’s still watchable but no less upsetting.


View packaging for this Blu-ray

Share: 



Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca