Red Riding Trilogy: 1974/1980/1983 (2009) [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Crime / Drama
IFC Films || R - 308 minutes - $34.98 || August 14, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-08-31


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Julian Jarrold, James Marsh, Anand Tucker
Writer(s): David Peace (novels); Tony Grisoni (writer)
Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sean Bean, David Morrissey, Mark Addy, Rebecca Hall


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Julian Jarrold Interview
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Trailers and TV Spots


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French

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.::THE FILM::.

Based on novels by English novelist David Pearce (3 out of the 4), a unique trilogy of movies were produced by Revolution Films and aired in the UK in 2009 and released in limited theatrical capacity in the States. Personally, I find the process interesting that they produced three movies at the same time and although they weren’t critically very well received, I found each film to be compelling.

Here’s a rundown of each film followed by my thoughts on them.

1974 - ****½ / *****
Young Yorkshire Post reporter Eddie Dunford (ANDREW GARFIELD) thinks he’s a hotshot and wants to be the lead of the biggest story in Yorkshire: a series of unsolved missing young girls, the latest of whom was found with angel wings stitched to her back on land owned by local businessman John Dawson (SEAN BEAN), a boogeyman of a character who doesn’t appear until towards the end of the film.

But soon Dunford’s over-confidence turns serious when he interviews parents of the missing girls including a single mother named Paula Garland (REBECCA HALL). At first she is offended by Dunford’s presence and soon after he is roughed up by a couple of cops. Later on, he finds her at a local pub and soon enough the two become lovers – a bit too soon to my liking – and he learns that she had revealed their previous heated encounter to long-time friend, and creep, Dawson.

While the film’s premise might seem to be about solving the disappearances and murder of several young girls but much like David Fincher’s Zodiac, it’s much less about the crime and more about one reporter’s obsession and getting in too deep, crossing hairs with a corrupt police department and his own darkness within.

1980 - ****¼ / *****
In the second part, the film follows the investigation to capture a killer known as the Yorkshire Ripper – a real life killer captured in 1980 and convicted in ’81 – but like in the previous entry, it is more than about capturing a serial killer than following the corruption laid deep within the police department.

In this one, we follow investigator Peter Hunter (PADDY CONSIDINE) who has been brought in to review case files pertaining to the Yorkshire Ripper after the former lead investigator had seemingly gotten too deep into the case and had considered by his superiors to have gone bonkers. Hunter has a connection with the previous movie as he was also brought in to investigate the “Karachi Club Massacre” which was featured in the finale of “1973”.

Things don’t start off too swift for Hunter. After choosing two top cops and friends in Harold Angus (JIM CARTER) and Helen Marshall (MAXINE PEAKE), though he has a deeper past with Helen which complicates things but he’s none too popular with the current detectives on the Ripper case, including Bob Craven (SEAN HARRIS).

The second entry is just as engrossing as the first one between the quiet ambience and the psychological examination the filmmakers place on the main characters rather than focusing on the serial killer and the killings themselves.

1983 - ***¾ / *****
The third and final movie in the Red Riding Trilogy centers on Police Detective Maurice Jobson (DAVID MORRISEY) and brings together all three movies. This time, Jobson, along with a public solicitor named John Piggott (MARK ADDY), investigate the possible cover-up of the killings back in 1974 and the corrupt West Yorkshire police department who have been setting up others – using gruesome torture methods – to take the fall for crimes and cover-ups committed by members of the department.

The third entry (or episode as it’s known across the pond) is far more complicated and while I wasn’t as enamored with it as I was with the previous two movies, I still found the film to be at least watchable and somewhat intense as we get towards the conclusion that connects all three films, however, I think that’s where the film kind of loses me.

The issue at hand this go around has nothing to do with the casting as each actor once again give great performances but instead the direction by Anand Tucker (Shopgirl, Leap Year) looks fine and provides the proper ambience for a piece like this but he also utilizes flashbacks to fill in the pieces that connects each one together and often times you don’t even know you’re in a flashback. For instance, and this is definitely spoiler territory, but Sean Bean’s character was killed 1974 but he makes an appearance here and I guess for some reason that threw me off a little until I realized we were in flashback mode. There were a couple more similar instances and if Tucker had only made it more distinguishable that we were going back and forth from the years ’74 to ’80 to ’83 and not necessarily in that order, it would’ve been a whole lot easier to follow.

Overall, despite my confusion following the third episode, I find that this Red Riding Trilogy is one of the better crime dramas I’ve watched in a while. On the technical front, it’s also a technical feat filming three movies at the same time with three different units and directors (each one even has different composers). If you are familiar with the British model of crime storytelling, can appreciate the quietness of each of these films and enjoy the more psychological elements rather than the crimes themselves, then this is these are the films for you.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All the films are on the first disc while the features are on disc two, which is a DVD.

Julian Jarrold Interview (11:24) – The director of 1974 answers various questions about what drew him to the project and other obvious tidbits. None of this was really of value or interesting.

Deleted Scenes (TRT 22:09) – Each movie gets a set of deleted scenes but none of them, while well acted, really add much to the final release, though including more in the 1983 movie concerning the medium would’ve been good.

There are Making ofs (TRT 25:28) for 1980 and 1983, each one provides a behind-the-scenes look at how the films were made and feature soundbites with various members of the cast and crew. Neither segments are great but anyone interested in these movies might get some value out of them.

Behind-the-Scenes (3:02) – This short featurette was made for the IFC channel as an advertisement for the Red Riding Trilogy and doesn’t offer much insight into the making of the films.

Lastly there are a few TV Spots (for all 3 movies and the trilogy as a whole) and the trilogy theatrical trailer (2:30).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

1974 is presented with a 1.85 aspect ratio while 1980 and 1983 have a 2.35 AR. Each film is comes in 1080p high-definition but unfortunately none of them look particularly very pretty. Starting with the first movie, it has an insane amount of grain/noise that you don’t get very much detail in the picture. The other two are certainly noticeably better than the first one as I didn’t notice as much noise as I did before and even detail levels on the characters aren’t half bad. That being said, this still isn’t a video presentation that will wow you, but I have to imagine it is a step up from the DVD version.

The Blu-ray doesn’t offer lossless audio and instead just the standard Dolby Digital 5.1. Now, each movie sounds alright though I did think the dialogue levels could’ve been far better as I had a hard time understanding what some people were saying. The high point for the tracks are the music and score (which is available on Amazon and recommended for fans of motion picture scores).



.::OVERALL::.

The Red Riding Trilogy is hardly perfect but the storylines weaved from one film to the next is fairly well done despite my misgiving with how it was handled in the third entry. The features are not anything special and unfortunately are all contained on a DVD while the video can be a tad iffy especially with the first film, but if you can nab this on sale, give it a shot, it just might surprise you.