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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed Firebird, Rite suffers bad camerawork. Good extras., 28 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: Stravinsky and the Ballets Russes: The Firebird and The Rite of Spring [Blu-ray] [2009][Region Free] (Blu-ray)
Hmm.

I liked the Firebird. It's a bit childrens' panto, but the leading lady in her incandescent red dress is, well, incandescent. I can't criticise her dancing. Her mime/acting is very good indeed -- very clear, expressive, but not overplayed. And she's my kind of Firebird -- she doesn't freak out when a human turns up to dance with her, she's a bit wary at first but then she raises an eyebrow and finds out whether he can dance. She's a confident, self-possessed, modern gal. And I liked the head baddie, who was acting rather than dancing but did the pantomime villain very well. There's good work from Gergiev and the orchestra too.

As a couple of other people said, there are too many close-ups and funky camera angles in Firebird. But only a few too many and they're not the end of the world. I thought the overhead was actually a rather good idea. Besides, it's not a documentary. So long as the dance works for the viewer, I don't mind whether it looks like the view from centre stalls.

Rite, on the other hand, really does suffer from the zoomed-in camerawork. This one *is* somewhat a documetary, since I'm sure most of us are watching it partly out of intellectual curiosity to see what the fuss was about. The choreography is heavy on groups and patterns, and different things going on on different parts of the stage, and you just can't see what's going on for rather too much of the time. They should have put a camera in the first circle and locked the cameraman in a cupboard. I'd recommend the Joffrey version instead, even low-res YouTube, since you can see how the ballet works and why it was groundbreaking.

Camerawork aside, I think maybe the original Nijinsky Rite is "radical" and "important" and "interesting" rather than brilliant choreography, but it ain't bad. Watching it I had the strangest memory of walking around the City or Paris modern art museum, which has a lot of work from this period. It's just how I expect an avant garde 1913 ballet about pagans to look. The costumes could be Sonia Delaunay.

The BluRay includes a very interesting half hour interview with the two academics who restored the Rite. They talk about the history of the work, and it's impact, and the restoration they did. This is the best extra I've seen in a few years. The other short doc which is more focussed on Firebird is nice enough.

Pretty good video and sound by BluRay standards -- 1080i60 for good motion, adequately sharp and free of noise, vibrant but not silly colour, not much encoder blocking in the shadows.
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