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19
4.5 out of 5 stars
Underground (DVD + Blu-ray)
Format: Blu-rayChange
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2013
Despite what the other reviewer said, this is a very good film and not at all dull. It shows a Britain long gone and has artistic flourishes which Hitchcock showed little of during most of his silent film career. There seems to be an knee jerk response amongst some people to compare many British film directors to Hitchock, not sure way as it is possible to assess and enjoy other directors on their own merits. Hitchcock's silent films are a variable bunch, some good, some mundane and routine, most withouth any of the qualities and flourishes he would later bring to bear.

Asquith is a great British director long forgotten which is sad as this and A Cottage On Dartmoor, leave us a tantilising taste of his skill.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 25 June 2013
This was the movie that got me buying a Blu-ray player, and I would say that despite the age of the source material, the quality of the print presented justifies hi-def. It is amazing the work that has been done providing a picture as good as would have been seen at the time in the cinema, a restoration perhaps triggered by the discovery overseas of a print of the movie enabling the damaged parts of the previous viewing print (from 1948) to be replaced. From parts of the original camera negative and two prints a wet gate print is made (by printing under a liquid with a similar refractive index to film base, the liquid fills scratches in the base, minimising their effect on the print) before applying modern digital restoration techniques to further enhance the image quality.
Something that surprised me (although with DVD and BluRay discs included it's academic) is that the BluRay had fewer extras than the DVD! Both have a featurette on the restoration of "UndergrounD" and the short "Under Night Streets", the DVD has another four shorts including the celebrated footage shot on the Metropolitan Railway in 1910, travelling out from Baker Street (I bet that gets a good few YouTube hits!) although it is the feature, with the emphasis on ordinary folk, that is of course the main attraction.

The language of the silent film is different to that of the "talkie" and sometimes requires much closer scrutiny of the image on the screen (seems obvious, I know - sorry about that) - but features such as UndergrounD provide a window into a world that is gone forever although we are privileged to glimpse shadows and hear echoes via contemporary films and recordings.

Coupled with which, of course, it's a cracking good story. and British....
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2013
I've been looking forward to seeing this for a long time, as I couldn't be bothered to go to the BFI screening, and I wasn't disappointed.

It's pointless to judge eighty or ninety year old silent films by the same criteria as modern productions and, by the standards of its own time, it has aged pretty well. Yes, the stories are relatively simple - they need to be in order to be conveyed by mime plus a few intertitles - and the film-makers were still struggling to make the best of the technical limitations; but there are rich compensations.

The quality of the restored film is very good so that the location shots of 1920's London and the Underground are wonderful - especially for a `London and its transport' geek like me. It's also fascinating to observe the behaviour, manners and social attitudes of the time - something that modern `period' dramas never seem to capture convincingly.

Asquith's direction is perfectly adequate and incorporates many of the influences he picked up along his privileged way - notably, techniques borrowed from German and Russian cinema. The love-triangle (or rectangle) story chugs along with both humorous and dramatic moments, there are one or two good set pieces and the final chase at Lots Road power station ticks all the boxes.

The extras are pretty good too - mostly archive footage of undergroundy things

All in all, recommended - and a rewarding and worthy complement to the contemporary Hitchcocks. I'm still not convinced about blu-ray though.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Recently restored by the British Film Institute, this is a silent drama from Anthony Asquith (son of H.H. Asquith British Prime Minister during WW1). He would go on to make some classic films including `The Winslow Boy' and `The Yellow Rolls Royce'). As his first outing he took the story of four simple London characters and placed them in the social context of the London Underground, where the film gets its' title from.

These are Nell who works in a department store, Bert who is an electrician, Kate who shares his boarding lodgings and is a seamstress and Bill who works on the Underground. Both Bill and Bert run into Nell on the same day and both are smitten with her womanly charms. Whilst Bert is a bit of a spiv, Bill is more dependable and cuts a dashing figure in his uniform and matinee idol good looks, so is already ahead on points.

Bert is a man who gets his own way and if he can't have Nell then no one can. He will use anyone to achieve his own ends. This means the story will inevitably build to a dramatic conclusion. This was made at a time when an appetite for melodrama was high and hence some of the `action' here may be seen as far fetched, especially the scenes shot at Lots Road Power Station in Chelsea. We also have proper old fashioned acting, with long stares and exaggerated emotions. The musical score, which is completely new, was written by Neil Brand (a silent film specialist) and performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and tells the story as much as the on screen antics.

This is a beautiful restoration by the BFI but it is some of the scene quality varies. The real gems are some of the ancillary things that I found to be most interesting especially the underground scenes. There are signs advising people not to sit on the stairs of the escalators and even how to get off, by putting your right foot first. The first caption in the film says `Passing Warren Street' and that was something I had done that vey evening so marvellous to see the changes. This a perfect time capsule of 1920's London and also has a fair bit of social history all wrapped up in an engaging story. I absolutely loved it and can only offer gushing praise to the BFI for continuing to rescue pieces of film history like this.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 July 2013
I saw this film at the BFI earlier this year and was delighted when it was issued on DVD. It's a lovely film that shows that you do not need endless dialogue to tell a story. The real joy of the film are the sights and fashions of 1920's London,
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 July 2013
Ok, so the story isn't "War and Peace" , but wow, this is a fantastic capture of
how life was then. I am a major fan of the underground and have read many books
on same (sigh ...) but what really caught my attention here - apart from the underground scenes (sigh again....)-
is how fluid the film was ; the usual annoyance (for me at any rate) is the continual nuisance of dialogue
screens. Here the story can continue with little or no assistance from same!
Probably the best silent film I have ever seen ( and no I am not supported by a certain lager!)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 16 August 2013
A wonderful look back at vintage London with some fabulous extras on the DVD. I bought this mainly for the extras and am not disappointed
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 July 2013
I attended a screening of this film at the Barbican a couple of years back and really enjoyed the evening with a live orchestra providing the soundtrack. It is great to have a copy of the film to rewatch and wnjoy the experience again. A real special film for transport buffs and social historians alike.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2013
I first heard about this movie nearly 20 years ago in the Cinema Europe documentary and was thrilled that it's finally out on DVD. Underground definitely lives up to the hype! Every second of this movie was perfect. Highly recommended!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 April 2014
It is a film of historical interest in addition to its dramatic effect, both superbly demonstrated by Asquith.
The BFI re-generation of two surviving prints to the excellent quality of that produced is a tribute to the technicians and BFI focus on past British film industry excellence.
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