Customer Reviews: Diva [Blu-ray]
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VINE VOICEon June 8, 2008
The Anchor Bay version from 2001 is currently the best you can do with this title. I had high hopes for the new release, but was suspicious based on the awful cover art. Sure enough, they have a super-low bit rate, are actually zooming on the image in some areas and have problems with no English subtitles on some of the extras (the film is in French). I've shown the Anchor Bay version to friends in the last few years all of whom have been impressed by this clever caper from 1981. But when a company comes out with a new version (seven years after the last time Diva was released on DVD) it deserves a whole lot better than this. I second the call for the director of the film and whoever owns the rights to get it the heck away from Lion's Gate so Criterion or some decent production studio can take a crack at it. DO NOT BUY THIS EDITION.
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on May 28, 1999
This stylish, hip thriller of the early 80's is a cult classic. Featuring Wilhelmenia Wiggins-Fernandez, a real-life Diva. In the film she plays Cynthia Hawkins, an opera singer who refuses to record her music.
Frédéric Andréi (Jules) is a loner messenger boy, who makes a beautiful bootleg recording of one of her recitals. He also becomes the unknowing recipient of a tape containing evidence about the Paris underworld, setting off a chain of events where everyone's motives are misunderstood.
Sad to say, this good film is seriously marred by the worst sound transfer I have ever heard on a DVD. It is muddy and indistinct, much worse than most VHS tapes. Because the voice of Wilhelmenia Wiggins-Fernandez is central to the plot, the poor audio quality makes it hard to understand why anyone would make such a fuss about recording her.
The video transfer is not great, but passable, however the audio quality seriously dimishes the impact of a good film. If you listen to the compact disk soundtrack, you'll know what you're missing. This DVD looks like it was rushed to market with very little thought or care. The film deserves a better fate.
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on June 8, 2008
I know, I know: "Save your technical rants for the discussion boards!" And I usually do (in fact, I was commenter #1 for the review by "Mutantchaos" above). But since I stupidly went ahead and purchased the new Lionsgate edition anyway (after buying into the two comments that followed mine, one allegedly from Lionsgate themselves,spinning like Karl Rove, and the other from a "customer" who I am now convinced is a shill for Lionsgate) I wanted to throw in my "A-B" comparisons-as a public service.

Mutantchaos and the previous reviewer are absolutely correct regarding the picture being "cropped" on the Lionsgate disc; the Anchor Bay displays a truer 16x9 enhancement. Also, the Lionsgate was mastered with a very high contrast level, which highlights every bit of print debris, making for a distractingly grainy picture. The only "improvement" I see in the Lionsgate edition is that their transfer sports better color saturation, with more natural flesh tones; Anchor Bay's print has a slightly reddish tint overall when you compare the two. Also, I noticed that I had to really kick up the volume on the new Lionsgate disc in order to achieve comparable audio levels to the Anchor Bay edition.

One nitpicky difference I accidentally discovered as well: The Lionsgate edition appears to be newly translated for the subtitles, and it's not necessarily for the better. One scene in particular that threw up the red flag for me was a line translated by Anchor Bay as "The abyss meets the abyss"; which is very poetic. The Lionsgate version translates the same line as "The deep meets the deep." Sounds a little dumbed down, n'est ce pas?

To be completely "fair and balanced",let me conclude that the bottom line is the simple fact that "Diva" has yet to be RESTORED. "Remastered" does not equate "restored"; both Anchor Bay and Lionsgate have obviously taken thier transfers from the same flawed master (I started to recognize the same scratches and defects while comparing scenes!).

A note for Lionsgate: If you want to successfully market a "prestige line" of reissues based on the Criterion model, it's going to take more than a cynical ploy like creating a sound alike moniker ("Meridian"/"Criterion") and a lookalike logo to justify that list price.
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on June 17, 2001
Bravo. Anchor Bay understands why many of us are buying DVDs of films we never would have considered purchasing on video: not merely because they are available, but because of the QUALITY. Their "Diva" release is a prime example of this, and I won't bother extolling the virtues of the movie *as* a movie since the review and the other reviewers have done that so well.
I haven't seen the earlier Fox Lorber issue of "Diva", but from the reviews I read here, and from the Fox Lorber titles I unfortunately own, I can only imagine that they (Fox Lorber) did their usual criminally indifferent - or is it agressively incompetent? - job, making no attempt to clean up the image and sound on a poor-quality master, but rather doing a quick-and-dirty transfer in order to be first to market, before the public wises up.
With that as the background, then, the new Anchor Bay release of "Diva" was well worth waiting for. The image quality is simply beautiful - clean, clear and crisp, with no discernable noise, dirt, or other undesireable visual artifacts. It's comparable in quality to Paramount's superb work on the "Chinatown" DVD, or most anything in The Criterion Collection's excellent series. Another very pleasant surprise is the restored and updated sound which, on the Fox Lorber release, was rated even below the poor quality of the image. Fans of "Diva" know that it has one of the most unique and memorable soundtracks of the many memorable 1980s movie soundtracks, and I cannot remember it ever sounding better than it does on the new Anchor Bay release.
So again, thank you, Anchor Bay, for doing justice to one of my favorite films on DVD. And as for you, Fox Lorber, isn't there a better business model out there than doing violence to art for money?
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on August 3, 2008
I'm so glad I still own the 2000 Anchor Bay DVD release of this wonderful film, and now I'll never part with it. I was really looking forward to this 2008 Meridian Collection reissue with its promised new print, new soundtrack, and new extras. Imagine my disappointment--this is the most appallingly amateurish packaging of an important classic of world cinema that I've ever seen. The "new" picture transfer is grainy and indistinct, and the (monaural!) soundtrack is even worse. In this day and age of enhanced digital technology, I can't believe that anyone in their right mind would dare to present this mess to the DVD-buying public. Shame on them!

My advice to DIVA fans and newcomers: Move heaven and earth to snag a copy of the 2000 Anchor Bay version. You may have to search for it, but it's worth it. It is presented in true, crystal-clear, anamorphic digital video and Chace Digital Dolby Surround 5.1 stereo. It also includes the excellent English-dubbed soundtrack (also in Dolby Surround 5.1 stereo) if you don't want to read subtitles. Both the English soundtrack and the Surround stereo are missing from the terrible Meridian Collection package, and the new "extras" are entirely skippable. Stick with Anchor Bay's vastly superior version of DIVA--you'll thank me for it.
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VINE VOICEon June 20, 2001
This version of Diva is remastered from the original elements and does credit to a great movie. Beware the former Fox-Lorber disk, which is one of the worst transfers of any film out on DVD. Come to think of it, beware Fox-Lorber. They generally tend to take great Criterion Collection releases like The 400 Blows or Hardboiled and force them out of circulation only to replace them with bad versions and junky transfers.
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on June 3, 2008
As I said in the title - I gave this DVD 1 star only because you can't give 0 stars. The film is great of course, but this new "remastered" DVD is terrible.

To start, the "remastered" picture is cropped and it's mastered very poorly - especially when compared to my disc from Anchor Bay (Diva), which looks much nicer even though it is 7 years old! They even claim that this transfer was approved by the director. Maybe he approved a transfer that was watched in a post production studio, but unless he has gone blind I can't imagine he would watch this DVD and approve of it. This is sort of transfer you'd expect from a DVD released years ago when the format was new, but in 2008 this is ridiculous.

But it gets worse! The special features, including the commentary - those are mostly in French - and have NO ENGLISH SUBTITLES! Really? Is this a joke? I would expect that on a disc released in France, but this is made for North America, and with the exception of Quebec, not many of us can speak French making these featurettes pretty much useless to 90% of us. And the menus (which is the only thing on the disc that looks nice) - those are all in French too.

And Spanish speakers, you are S.O.L. because the listed Spanish subs don't exist.

So if you speak French or English, have never seen the film before and don't care about special features, I suppose maybe you can rent it just to see the film. For those of you who, like me, are a bit more hung up with DVD quality (and I would imagine that describes 95% of the 2008 audience for a film like Diva) - run, do not walk, away from this DVD. This may be the worst DVD for 2008 - I have seen cheapo public domain DVD titles that were much nicer than this. This is a major quality control screw up, and anyone who has this horrible disc should return it to Lions Gate so they don't think they can do it again.

Lions Gate, shame on you. Please give the rights over to Criterion so we can see a good DVD of this classic film. Pretty please.
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on June 21, 2001
I am so happy that this "new" version has been release by Anchor Bay. The Fox Lorber version was awful (I rented it, you can read the reviews about bad sound, picture, etc.), but this Anchor Bay version has great sound quality (5:1 Surround) has original French dialog, and an English dubbed track too. The extras include a trailer (very cool). This was my favorite movie when I was in High School. It still is. Now, if someone would just release Betty Blue on DVD... For those of you disappointed by the previous release, but this new one!
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on June 14, 2004
When I saw DIVA in the theaters, back in 1982, I knew I had witnessed something incredibly special. And for years it had kept a warm spot in my heart and mind. When I heard the DVD had been released, I was afraid of two things: 1) that the transfer would be a disaster and 2) the film would be terribly dated.
The not-so-good-news first: while superior to the earlier DVD release (which I had never seen, but heard about) the film suffers a little from some muddy sound, and at the worst times: during the operatic performances. Yet, the chase scenes have incredibly crisp sound. But I can't let that spoil the fact that the movie has held up incredibly well after 20+ years. While the fashions are of a by-gone era, everything else holds up perfectly. The plot, the direction, the performances are all as engaging as anything that's come out in recent years. Younger viewers may feel that this is a little old-fashioned, but I doubt it. This is a great film that has a little bit of everything: drama, love, comedy--and the strangest villains in cinema history! Give DIVA a chance.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 4, 2004
Jules (Frederic Andrei) is a young special delivery messenger in Paris who loves opera and worships the singer Cynthia Hawkins (Wilhemenia Wiggins Fernandez). She's famous for never making recordings. Jules secretly tapes her, and the action starts. Two Taiwan hoods learned of his plans and are determined to steal the tape so they can make bootleg copies. At the same time, a prostitute lets the police know that she made a tape implicating the chief of police in some very nasty crimes involving prostitution and drugs. The tapes get mixed up, and the Taiwan hoods and two ruthless killers working for the police chief go after Jules. He meets and is helped by a young Viet Namese girl and her protector, played by the first-rate French actor Richard Bohringer. Things sort themselves out but only after two hours of stylish, exciting film making, the development of interesting characters you start to care about, especially Jules, and a first-rate chase involving Jules on his moped in and out of the Paris Metro.

The opera recording Jules made is of Hawkins singing an aria from La Wally. The actress playing the role, Wilhemenia Wiggins Fernandez, is an opera singer (and a good actress). She probably had a lot of movie goers running to record shops trying to get her stuff. It's a beautiful, haunting piece of work and is heard several times.

I think Diva is an excellent, high-class mystery/chase movie that holds up very well. Watching it again reminded me of how much I liked it the first time I saw it. The DVD transfer isn't bad; just make sure you get the version put out by Studio Canal/Anchor Bay.
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