Pi - 15th Anniversary Edition (UK - BD RB)
Marcus tries to study numbers through all the grain with this Aronofsky Blu-ray
Maximillian Cohen's (Sean Gullette) obsession with numbers is causing him migraines and his former teacher Sol (Mark Margolis) advises him to take a break from trying to discover patterns in the stock market and pretty much everything else.
Max's obsession with a 216-digit number and the organisations around him wanting its meaning for their own ends, either for financial or religious reasons adds even more pressure to Max and with his migraines increasing intensity and his isolation from the world around him worsening his condition, Max may have to take matters into his own hands... while holding a drill.
I don't think I've seen Pi since it's original DVD release. It's not that I didn't like it, I remember being quite in awe of it at the time in fact, it's just one of those titles I never felt the need to revisit straight away and it seems that "Not straight away" has turned in 15 years!! I blame Aronofsky's pretty fantastic filmography since Pi. I mean, why revisit Pi when you can watch The Fountain or Requiem For A Dream right?
Darren Aronofsky came out of nowhere as many new directors did in the nineties and Pi was touted as the thinking man's drama, full of mathematical patterns, psychological twists and turns and the devastating visuals delivered with a drill making it a critic's favorite across the board.
Revisiting it now, I have to say I'm still pretty impressed with Aronofsky's debut. Sean Gullette's central performance may not be a likable one by design but he keeps you locked in to the obsession that's destroying Max's life. Aronofsky keeps the momentum going within his stark black and white world and even though many of the supporting characters feel like customers from Kevin Smith's Quickstop in Clerks at times, breaking the slick mood somewhat, the larger themes being discussed within Pi are fascinating and the importance of these numbers and their connections are legitimately drilled into your head.
You have to question the worth of Pi in HD. Shot on high-contrast black-and-white reversal film Pi wouldn't look 'good' no matter what the format, well at least lined up against other mainstream glossy titles in the Blu-ray catalogue.
Style wise Pi looks great if taken on Pi's own standards. I mean it looks like it always did but with a slightly sharper overall appearance. The deeper blacks and the blasted whites sit starkly against one other creating a newspaper looking texture and of course given the filming techniques the entire movie is alive with grain. This is student film, low budget looking stuff. Grain dances, super close ups are all shadows and light juxtapositions fighting with one another and while there's a slight improvement detail wise this is really only going to be one fans of the film will appreciate because to many, and more so to newcomers to the film, Pi could be considered the worst looking Blu-ray in a while, if not ever.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track is about as good as you'd expect from the film. The big draw is its multi-layers, ticks, click, and abstract sounds. They all back up Max's life and when the electronic score beefs that up further there's a whole lot going on. Usually the score is the element that struggles to be heard in the controlled chaos, especially when it's behind Max's dialogue but it occasionally gets to reach out of the stereo track and makes everything feel a bit wilder.
Going back to the dialogue, it's always crisp and clear with only a slightly muffled fuzz in scenes with raised voices. Throughout, Max's voice is centered and often feels like Max is talking right to you but it's the things around that voice that drives Max slowly insane. Everything in the track is used to build Max's isolation from the world around him, how his mind is constantly working something out and how his drive is forcing him to find answers, oblivious to other things around him. Of course the performance does this but it's the sound techniques and layering of samples, abstract sounds and quick edits that grow the paranoia and decline in Max's mental state. The audio track here delivers the goods and despite its stereo set up Pi remains as intense an audio experience as it's ever been.
The commentary with Darren Aronofsky talks of the specifically designed character traits and he gives plenty of background regarding the history of the elements used in the film. There's alternative ideas discussed, stories about scenes and some of the techniques used to build the film's mood and themes.
The commentary with Sean Gullette feels like the actor is extremely in his characters head while watching the film back. Its almost like watching the film with an alternative view of the character's mental state. Pauses of silence add to this effect and the feeling of Max watching Max is a fun way of viewing the film.
Deleted scenes (4:00 SD) are short deleted moments with Aronofsky commentary. The 'Behind The Scenes Montage' (08:31) with commentary from Aronofsky and Gullette has the pair commenting on footage featuring the cast and crew hanging out on set.
Last up is the Theatrical Trailer, the Original Trailer and a Music Video (02:50 SD).
Pi on Blu-ray is not going to be a draw to anyone looking for visual delights but if like me it's been the full 15 years since you've revisited Pi there's not really a better format to revisit on, even if the improvements are only ever slight. Extras wise the commentaries are solid but nothing much else is really that in depth, so chucking 'Anniversary Edition' on the cover of this one is for show as opposed to content.
* Note: The images on this page are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 12th August 2013
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English
Subtitles: English HoH
Extras: COmmentaries, Deleted Scenes, Behind the Scenes Montage, Trailers, Music Video
Easter Egg: No
Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Sean Gullette, Mark Margolis, Ben Shenkman
Genre: Drama and Thriller
Length: 84 minutes
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