Blu-ray Review – Bird with the Crystal Plumage – Arrow Video

Bird with the Crystal Plumage

Director: Dario Argento 

Screenplay: Dario Argento

Minutes: 98

Year: 1970

Score: 7.53

Release: Arrow Video

If I ever make a movie I can only dream that it will be as good of a first film as Dario Argento’s Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Anything that may be clunky can easily be explained away for a rookie outing, but I didn’t see anything I would call clunky.


In 1970, young first-time director Dario Argento (Deep Red, Suspiria) made his indelible mark on Italian cinema with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage – a film which redefined the ‘giallo’ genre of murder-mystery thrillers and catapulted him to international stardom.

Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante, We Own the Night), an American writer living in Rome, inadvertently witnesses a brutal attack on a woman (Eva Renzi, Funeral in Berlin) in a modern art gallery. Powerless to help, he grows increasingly obsessed with the incident. Convinced that something he saw that night holds the key to identifying the maniac terrorising Rome, he launches his own investigation parallel to that of the police, heedless of the danger to both himself and his girlfriend Giulia (Suzy Kendall, Spasmo)…

A staggeringly assured debut, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage establishes the key traits that would define Argento’s filmography, including lavish visuals and a flare for wildly inventive, brutal scenes of violence. With sumptuous cinematography by Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now) and a seductive score by legendary composer Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time in the West), this landmark film has never looked or sounded better in this new, 4K-restored limited edition from Arrow Video!

I am fairly new to giallo pictures and while I wish I had started watching these films years ago I am glad that I waited. Had I first watched this picture fifteen years ago I would have probably ignored it. I needed to be in the right mental place to have it click. During my Summer Film Festival this was one of four films that Argento either directed or produced suggesting that I am definitely in the right place.

Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a great flick that ticks off all the necessary boxes for a giallo. A bumbling detective, fedora, black gloves, constantly ramped up suspense, and more red herrings than you can handle. This is one of the flaws of the genre. When you can generate a checklist of film requirements you stand to lose a little charm. As Argento’s first film it seems clear that he was not interested in really pushing the envelope if the genre, and that is alright because he pulls it off, well; had he made changes it is also possible that he could have jeopardized his future.

I highly recommend that you pick this release up. The picture quality is fantastic, like it was photographed yesterday.


Special Features

  • Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the camera negative in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original mono Italian and English soundtracks (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
  • English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • New audio commentary by Troy Howarth, author of So Deadly, So Perverse: 50 Years of Italian Giallo Films
  • The Power of Perception, a new visual essay on the cinema of Dario Argento by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Devil’s Advocates: Suspiria and Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study
  • New analysis of the film by critic Kat Ellinger
  • New interview with writer/director Dario Argento
  • New interview with actor Gildo Di Marco (Garullo the pimp)
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Candice Tripp
  • Double-sided fold-out poster featuring
  • 6 Lobby Card reproductions
  • Limited edition 60-page booklet illustrated by Matthew Griffin, featuring an appreciation of the film by Michael Mackenzie, and new writing by Howard Hughes and Jack Seabrook


Director: 10 – Cinematography: 9 –  Edit: 6 – Parity: 6 – Main performance: 7 – Else performance: 3 – Score: 9 – Sound: 6 – Story: 6 – Script: 5 – Effects: 8 – Design: 10 – Costumes: 9 – Keeps interest: 9 – Lasting: 10