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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and essential film...
Sam Peckinpah's Cornish western has a heritage of controversy trailing in its wake. Perceived by turns as being misogynistic, exploitative, pornographic and gratuitously violent, it was labelled a "video nasty" in the 1980's and was consequently banned from view in the UK until the tail end of the nineties. An intriguing pedigree.

Essentially, what we have is a...
Published on 24 July 2006 by Anthony Bush

versus
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible blu-ray picture quality
This is a great film. It isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea due to its graphic scenes, but it is intelligent and has stood the test of time well. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for this new blu-ray 'remaster'. The picture quality is appalling, with contrast pushed up so high that whites are bleached out and blacks lose all detail. And colours have been...
Published on 16 Nov 2011 by Mr. J. C. Kent


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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Terrible blu-ray picture quality, 16 Nov 2011
By 
Mr. J. C. Kent "johnckent" - See all my reviews
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Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a great film. It isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea due to its graphic scenes, but it is intelligent and has stood the test of time well. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for this new blu-ray 'remaster'. The picture quality is appalling, with contrast pushed up so high that whites are bleached out and blacks lose all detail. And colours have been changed too, with unnatural greens and the sky almost white rather than blue. Watch the 'Before & After' feature and you can see how natural the colours were BEFORE the restoration. They have completely ruined it. There are quite a lot of good bonus features, particularly the extended interviews, but very little that hasn't been available before. The poor picture quality means that i cannot recommend this disc.
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 5 star movie. 1 star Blu ray., 1 Nov 2011
By 
D. Jacobs (TN) - See all my reviews
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Don't be fooled by the "Fully Restored" claim on the cover of this monstrosity. The transfer is poor with very bright whites and overbearing contrast. I may have to keep the disc for the extras as I don't think I could handle the guilt of selling this disc to some poor unsuspecting soul. The most fascinating extra is the before and after "restoration" comparison where Freemantle tries to convince us that they actually improved the image of this film. Whether the source print or Freemantle's tinkering is to blame for the poor transfer, I could not say. I'm just sorry that I rewarded them with my purchase, but I hope I can prevent others from making the same mistake. I agree with the other reviewers that suggest the region free US Blu ray or get the region 1 Criterion DVD. I will never preorder another Freemantle release. The movie itself is excellent and deserves better representation than this on Blu ray. My most dissapointing Blu ray purchase yet.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Would it work better with whiskey, Vicar?, 10 Dec 2011
By 
CJC (Devon, UK.) - See all my reviews
A great film, so I was really looking forward to the ''Fully Restored'' 40th Anniversary Edition Blu ray from Fremantle.
I wish I'd checked the reviews out on here first, though.
Quite simply a dreadful picture, the worst I've ever seen on Blu ray. My old DVD was far better!
One star for the extras.
Avoid this release!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The VHS version, 19 April 2012
By 
Mr. F. E. Marioni "fran151278" - See all my reviews
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Apparently the makers of this transfer to crystal clear bluray decided to put a VHS quality print on a disc, the picture is awful and easily the worst bluray I have seen. Eureka and BFI have done wondrous transfers to films by OZU and Imamura so there really isn't any excuse for this travesty.
The film is for all its faults iconic and well worth any cineasts time but you are better off getting the DVD version of the film. The extras and commentaries on this are fascinating though
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54 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and essential film..., 24 July 2006
By 
Anthony Bush (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Straw Dogs [1971] [DVD] (DVD)
Sam Peckinpah's Cornish western has a heritage of controversy trailing in its wake. Perceived by turns as being misogynistic, exploitative, pornographic and gratuitously violent, it was labelled a "video nasty" in the 1980's and was consequently banned from view in the UK until the tail end of the nineties. An intriguing pedigree.

Essentially, what we have is a movie that uproots some of the values, morality and themes governing the mythic cinematic western and transplants them into an English backwater community. The locals are restless, being envious of and despising the American strangers (Dustin Hoffman and wife Susan George) who intrude on their redneck world. The fact that Hoffman's wife used to be one of their own serves to make matters worse, increasing both tension and conflict.

Hoffman wants to avoid trouble and remain peaceable, but ultimately is pushed too far when his cat is killed, wife is raped and his homestead is laid siege to by his tormentors. He stubbornly offers shelter to Niles, the village idiot, who has just inadvertently killed a young girl. His refusal to surrender the man to the (lynch) mob initiates the violent finale. The stage is set for a man doing what a man's gotta do, and this translates as holding the fort whilst killing and maiming as many of the attacking natives as possible.

The controversy surrounding the film stems primarily from the issues of sex and violence. When Amy (Susan George) is raped by one villager she responds ambiguously by first seeming resistant and naturally unwilling to participate and then appearing to enjoy the experience, encouraging her attacker (who is also an ex-boyfriend). This duality of attitude, this ambivalent mixed message towards forced sex upset many a feminist and non-feminist alike at the time and led to accusations of exploitation and misogyny on the part of the director. Compounding the situation is the fact that immediately following this first act of sexual abuse, Peckinpah then has the Amy character anally raped by another villager. Ultimately, her response is to conceal these events from her husband and appear no more than slightly withdrawn, petulant and a bit miffed. Any psychological and emotional trauma or physical discomfort or damage she may have experienced is ignored and unexplored. In fact, if one is honest, Peckinpah actually succeeds in trivialising rape. Events earlier in the film clearly suggest that she "was asking for it anyway." Amy is seen to "tease" the locals by appearing naked at her window whilst they work on her barn roof outside. This monumentally sexist attitude provoked outrage in the early 1970's and no major filmmaker today would be likely to get away with such an approach to the subject matter. Peckinpah argued that it was in fact cuts by the British censor that actually succeeded in making the rape scenes appear more pornographic and less politically correct than his original intent - but I'm inclined to take this with a pinch of salt.

The violence at the end involves a foot being blown off with a shotgun, a beating with a poker, boiling water being thrown into faces and a semi-decapitation with a man-trap. By today's standards, they can hardly be considered gratuitous or graphic in their depiction. However, it is a testament to Peckinpah's skill as a filmmaker and Dustin Hoffman and Susan George's performances that the experience of the siege is both powerful and harrowing. The drunken mob are suitably menacing, mindless, obnoxious and deserving of their fate. It's an exciting end to what is essentially a slow-burning and action-free movie constructed primarily to gradually crank-up the tension until the climax. In this sense the film does not disappoint. Hoffman gives a nervy, slightly-wired, pacifistic almost to the point of cowardice type of performance throughout that contributes magnificently to the build-up. His character finally snaps under pressure from all the insults, goading and abuse he has received from his antagonists. He utilises the provision of a safe-haven for the mentally challenged Niles more as an excuse to exact revenge, to force a confrontation, than to satisfy any moral rationale he may harbour. The stand-off is not even about retribution for the rape of his wife, more an affirmation of his own manhood, standing up to the bully, facing down the bad guys. Typical macho Peckinpah ideology steeped in Western mythology.

To conclude, Straw Dogs is a fascinating and essential film by a master craftsman. In technical terms, it builds a sense of suspense and ever-increasing dread in the audience with almost clinical expertise. The climax is nearly as cleverly choreographed as the finale to The Wild Bunch - only framed by different culture and in different context. If you can ignore the faintly repugnant ideology behind the rape sequence (which probably says more about Peckinpah's personal attitude towards women than anything else) then this is a true 70's classic that even today has the power to shock and enthral.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars When the going gets tough..., 11 Dec 2008
By 
@GeekZilla9000 "I am completely operational a... (Doncaster, Yorkshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Straw Dogs [1971] [DVD] (DVD)
A great example of how a film might not be easy or pleasant to watch - but it can still be a great film.

Throughout this story of a young couple moving into a home in the sticks, there is an amazing feeling of claustrophobia. The content of the film is now infamous, and chances are you're watching with some knowledge of what is going to happen - but even if you haven't a clue, Peckinpah manages to create an uneasy feeling that something is going to take a turn for the worse.

I watched this constantly on edge, Dustin Hoffman perfectly plays David Sumner as a vulnerable academic whose masculinity is challenged by laddish manual workers who flirt with his missus. His exchanges with the guys are always awkward. He sticks out because there's the American accent, the middle class manners, and his comparative physical weakness. They laugh at him which adds to the tension between him, them, and his wife - with whom there is already a tense relationship.

There is a famous scene which I don't want to detail in case I spoil the film for others, but it has been the subject of much debate as to how it should be interpreted. Either way, it's a scene of violation and I found it very difficult to watch. The film cuts to scenes of David alone and humiliated on the moors, feeling the victim of a prank - when it's actually something far more sinister. Though I felt uncomfortable at this moment in the film, it is a crucial moment which depicts the helplessness of a woman, and the perceived hopelessness of a man - and sets you in the frame of mind for revenge.

From dark, unbearably tense drama - to ultra-violent action, we get to see a man dismissed as a wet lettuce become the king of his castle. Protecting himself and his wife using everything at hand, the plot becomes a manic scramble against a hostile mob.

In a nutshell: Challenging in many ways, the audience is compelled to urge along the vengeful bloodbath at the end of the film after despising the men who are desperate for the kill. The same audience perhaps finding themselves sympathising with an equally evil man. The film ends leaving you thinking. Was justice really served? At times the behaviours displayed seem inhuman, almost animal-like - but maybe it's the fact that what we're seeing is very much the essence of humanity that makes this an unpleasant but brilliant piece of cinema.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars STRAWDOGS bluray UK Version 40th anniversary edition, 16 Nov 2011
Without doubt this is the WORST bluray I ever seen ...the picture quality resembles a 5th generation VHS copy and is truly unwatchable ...AVOID at all costs and purchase the Region 1 release on bluray which is very good indeed ..
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars No Stars but I had to give it one to get the review through., 2 Mar 2013
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As many reviews here state, the picture quality of this so called restored version is absolutely awful, it's amaturish and looks like the work of an unsupervised trainee who is too young to understand anything about the atmosphere of this very well made film which I will say is 'of it's time'.

I am so appalled by the quality I am returning the dvd even though it has the special features disc. I have now ordered the 2002 release as there are no reviews derrogatory to the image quality.

I feel strongly that Amazon should refuse to sell this 40th anniversary version until the manufacturer has transferred the film in its original colour and not push up the contrast so much as to bleach out the whites and take out any detail in the blacks.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of the US blu-ray, 18 Dec 2011
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The US blu-ray only has a trailer and TV spots as extras.

The UK blu-ray has lots of extras including commentaries, a vintage featurette, retrospective interviews etc.

But the US blu-ray is far superior to the UK release because it has such an excellent transfer. I can't begin to describe how poor the UK transfer is in comparison to the US one.

If you love this film, don't put up with the awful UK transfer. The US blu-ray is the only way to view the film, and looks superb.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very Good Film, Terrible Blu-ray, 1 Nov 2011
By 
J. M. Booth (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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There is a very good selection of extras on this Blu-ray. Sadly the picture is a pain. The contrast has been increased so that much detail is lost, especially in the light areas. The blacks are either a deep blue or green, and faces often look like they have been processed on an old colour photocopier. Fremantle's before and after restoration shows up the faults in the Blu-ray! The unrestored image is more naturalistic and pleasing to watch.

The very good news is that whilst not having the wealth of extras that Fremantle's Blu-ray has the American MGM Blu-ray of Straw Dogs has a wonderful picture quality. In this version the colours are natural, darks dark etc etc.
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Straw Dogs - Criterion Collection [DVD] [1971] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
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