51 years ago, a young, fresh-faced director made his debut – and cinema changed forever. Dario Argento, beloved for films including Suspiria, Deep Red, Tenebrae and more, boasts an incredible filmography packed with timeless classics, but one needs to look back at where it all began to see where this genius formed with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, a staggeringly assured masterpiece that you’d never guess was a directorial debut.
The landmark thriller follows Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante), an American writer in Rome who witnesses a brutal attack on a woman in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help, he grows increasingly obsessed with the incident and launches his own investigation – despite himself and his girlfriend (Suzy Kendall) being targeted by the deranged killer.
Impeccably shot with lavish visuals and some of the most intense and disturbingly inventive scenes of murder ever put to film, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage establishes traits that would not only go on to define Argento’s trademark style but also influence the murder-mystery/thriller genre for the next 50 years. Films like David Fincher’s Se7en and Zodiac, and Bong Joon-Ho’s Memories of Murder, owe a lot to this impeccable study of obsession and murder. Add on top of that a eerily seductive score by the late maestro Ennio Morricone and mesmerising cinematography from Vittorio Storaro (who would go on to shoot Apocalypse Now with Francis Ford Coppola), this masterful mystery is not only one of the best examples of the genre but the shiniest jewel in Dario Argento’s crown.
This new 4K release from Arrow Video is an absolute delight, bringing Argento’s hauntingly beautiful and vibrantly colourful visuals to life like never before. The film looks utterly stunning, while the lavish packaging and wealth of special features complete a package that will be like catnip to fans and newcomers of the film alike. This one comes with the highest recommendation I can bestow.
Although some of the final twists might be a little predictable by today’s standards thanks to 50 years of imitators, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a genuinely compelling murder-mystery with great performances and flawless direction from Dario Argento.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
- New 4K restoration from the original negative by Arrow Films
- 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
- Restored original lossless mono Italian and English soundtracks
- English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
- Audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
- Black Gloves and Screaming Mimis, an interview with author and critic Kat Ellinger exploring the film’s themes and its relationship to both the giallo and Fredric Brown’s novel The Screaming Mimi
- The Power of Perception, a visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexanda Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria and The Giallo Canvas: Art, Excess and Horror Cinema, reflecting on the recurring theme of perception and the role of art in Argento’s filmography
- Crystal Nightmare, an interview with writer/director Dario Argento
- An Argento Icon, an interview with actor Gildo Di Marco
- Eva’s Talking, an archival interview with actor Eva Renzi
- Original Italian and international theatrical trailers
- 2017 Texas Frightmare trailer
- Image galleries
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook, and a new essay by Rachael Nisbet
- Fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative
- Six double-sided, postcard-sized lobby card reproduction artcards
- Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring originally and newly commissioned artwork by Obviously Creative
THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE is available on Limited Edition 4K UHD on 26 July from Arrow Video