New additions to the Criterion Collection

Although rumored for some time, Criterion has officially announced several new additions to their library yesterday. Fellini’s surreal Italian drama 8 1/2, Hitchcock’s romantic thriller, and Peter Weir’s fantastic mystery The Last Wave will be the newest installments in the already impressive Criterion Collection.

Federico Fellini’s “8 1/2” turns one man’s artistic crisis into a grand epic of the cinema. Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) is a director whose film-and life-is collapsing around him. An early working title for the film was La Bella Confusione (The Beautiful Confusion), and Fellini’s masterpiece is exactly that: a shimmering dream, a circus, and a magic act.

The two disc set will feature the film on disc wone with mew digital transfer of restored film elements for “8 1/2” and has been given an anamorphic widescreen transfer and is presented in its original Italian monaural with improved English subtitles. Screen-specific audio essay featuring commentary by film critic and Fellini friend Gideon Bachmann and NYU Professor of Film Antonio Monda will accompany the film. A special introduction to the film will be hosted by Terry Gilliam. The first disc will also contain the original theatrical trailer. Disc two will contain Fellini: A Director’s Notebook a 52 minute film by Fellini, Nino Rota: Between Cinema and Concert, a 48-minute documentary, interviews with actress Sandra Milo (“Carla”), director Lina Wertmüller, whose career began on the set of “8 1/2”, and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, who discusses the revolutionary art of Gianni di Venanzo, rare photographs from the collection of Gideon Bachmann, and a gallery of behind-the-scenes and production photos. The set will also contain a booklet featuring essays by Fellini, longtime Fellini collaborator and critic Tullio Kezich, and Alexander Sesonske.

Hitchcock’s thriller “Rebecca” will also come as a two-disc set. The story follows a timid, young ladies companion on vacation where she meets the handsome and wealthy widower Maxim de Winter, whose wife Rebecca has recently died in a boating accident. The two fall in love and, once married, the new Mrs. De Winter returns to the Winter estate to find that Rebecca still has a strange hold on everyone there. The masterful direction of Alfred Hitchcock highlights this brilliant adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s celebrated novel.

The film’s transfer has been extensively restored and is presented in its original fullscreen Academy ratio with mono sound.. The film will come with an audio commentary by “Hitchcock and Selznick” author Leonard J. Leff. The set will also include hair, makeup and costume tests, hundreds of behind-the-scenes photos, a poster, lobby card and promotional memorabilia gallery, audio excerpts from Hitchcock’s conversations with filmmaker Francois Truffaut, audio interviews with stars Joan Fontaine and Dame Judith Anderson and three complete radio adaptations.

In one of Peter Weir’s last Australian films, “The Last Wave” features Richard Chamberlain as Australian lawyer David Burton, who takes on the defense of a group of aborigines accused of killing one of their own. He suspects the victim has been killed for violating a tribal taboo, but the defendants deny any tribal association. Burton, plagued by apocalyptic visions of water, slowly realizes his own involvement with the aborigines.and their prophecies.

The new anamorphic widescreen transfer of the film has been given a new digital transfer supervised by the director. The film is presented in Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0. The disc includes an interview with director Peter Weir and the original theatrical trailer.

All three titles will come from Criterion on November 13th. “8 1/2” and “The Last Wave” will have spine number 140 and 142 respectively. Being two disc sets, “8 1/2” and “Rebecca” will have suggested retail prices of $39.95 each. “The Last Wave” will be priced $10.00 cheaper at $29.95.

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