am 9. August 2015
TWENTY THOUSAND STREETS UNDER THE SKY  [Blu-ray] [UK Release] Patrick Hamilton's classic trilogy of working class of London life in the 1930s is captured movingly in this beautiful observed and faithful adaption of Patrick Hamilton's classic trilogy “20,000 Street Under The Sky” and is brought to life in this BBC TV adaptation.
In a world of smoky pubs and foggy lamplights, down-at-heal workers and forlorn lovers, the story focuses on The Midnight Bell, a bar off the Euston Road, and observes the impossibility of love between three protagonists. Bob [Bryan Dick], the pub's barman, is infatuated with penniless prostitute Jenny Maple [Zoë Tapper], believing that he can rescue her through his rapidly diminishing savings. Barmaid Ella [Sally Hawkins], while attracting the attention of an older, wealthier man Ernest Eccles [Phil Davis] casts his lovelorn glances at Ella, but is also in love with Bob. Meanwhile, Jenny, forced onto the streets through poverty, has little time for such niceties, as she casts her flirtatious eyes about in search of custom.
This beautifully-observed "spellbinding" [The Times] drama, observes the struggles of ordinary lives lived close to the poverty line, and the torments and drives of unrequited love, ambition and disappointment.
Cast: Bryan Dick, Sally Hawkins, Zoë Tapper, Jacqueline Tong, Tony Haygarth, Philip Davis, Neil Stuke, Susan Wooldridge, Ruth Sheen, Elisabeth Dermot Walsh, Roger Frost, Kellie Shirley, Anthony O'Donnell, Richard O'Callaghan, Kathy Burke, Marcia Warren, Doreen Mantle, Michael Medwin, Sid Mitchell, Ryan Cartwright, Geoffrey Streatfield, Gary Connery, Mossie Smith, Sally Alexander, Alex Welch and Ruth Funnell
Director: Simon Curtis
Producer: Kate Harwood, Gareth Neame and Richard Fell
Screenplay: Kevin Elyot and Patrick Hamilton (book)
Cinematography: John Daly
Video Resolution: 1080i
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English: 2.0 LPCM Audio Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH
Running Time: 149 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Andrew's Blu-ray Review: `Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky,' a BBC mini-series and romantic period tragedy based on a trilogy of semi-autobiographical books from acclaimed English playwright and novelist, Patrick Hamilton. Set in a drab pub in 1930s London, the three-part story follows a trio of lovelorn victims of hard times. Bob [Bryan Dick], a young barman; Jenny [Zoë Tapper], a prostitute who captures his heart, and Ella [Sally Hawkins], a bartender who secretly longs for Bob's affections. In the first vignette, Bob is so determined to lure Jenny out of her lifestyle that he showers her with every penny he can spare. Growing more desperate and despondent each time she rejects his proposals, Bob soon finds himself risking everything to be with her. The second vignette abruptly flashes to Jenny's dark past and explores how she became a streetwalker. As her tale unravels, Bob's future love suddenly seems warranted all at once, it seems as if he's sensed the true soul lying dormant within her. In the third vignette, Ella finds her love is for naught as an older suitor appears on the scene and tries to win her hand. Torn between true love and a sure deal, Ella has to decide whether she has any strength left to pursue Bob.
`Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky' will at first make you feel things are moving with not enough pace, but eventually you will experience and encounter a slow-burning romantic drama, I didn't think I would uncover such nuanced plot development, achingly poetic dialogue, or dreadful foreshadowing. Don't get me wrong, the tragedy isn't necessarily Shakespearean, but rather feels lifted directly from the pages of Jane Austen. Love is realistically assigned and denied at Hamilton's whim. Bob has no end to his desire, just as Jenny has no hold on her life, and Ella has no control of her feelings. As it is in life, Hamilton presents love as a seemingly random force that strikes at will with no regard for the pain or suffering it sometimes leaves in its wake. The best thing about `Twenty Thousand Streets' is the familiar inner-conflicts of its characters and their inability to bring their dreams in line with reality.
It's the mini-series' setting that puts everything into perspective. The financial woes of lower middle-class Londoners in the early 20th century provide the perfect parallel for the main characters' plights. Their love seems to have been born out of the hope that there is obtainable happiness in their world, despite the chaotic socioeconomic and geopolitical upheaval of their continent. It's in this capacity that `Twenty Thousand Streets' transcends other romantic period pieces and becomes a legitimate commentary on the most fundamental defence mechanism people hold onto in times of trouble and the dream of love. In a time of world wars and European conflict, a simple story of human emotions may seem inconsequential, but it actually echoes the decades-long struggle of the entire nation.
Even so, `Twenty Thousand Streets' is still a slow-paced romantic tragedy that won't appeal to action junkies, like idiot mobile phone youngsters, whose brain power does not appreciate classic intelligent BBC drama or anyone who doesn't enjoy a solid character drama. I didn't even really get into the 180-minute mini-series until the one hour mark, so I know quite a few people won't have the patience or the taste for its style and pacing. Even after I did sink into the story, I only felt remotely moved by the end while my wife finished the series in tears. I'm not suggesting it was a chick flick in any way, but I do want to point out the likelihood that it will catch the hearts of the ladies more than the gents.
In the end, you will not find a dull script anywhere, as it is totally ultra-professional acting, as `Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky' is your ultimate drama, that lets you get into the characters 100%. Defying my expectations and delivering a robust character study, the BBC mini-series was a heart-aching look into a difficult period in British history and there is not a duff moment throughout the three episodes and when I first viewed it on BBC TV in the UK, I feel in love with this mini-series and have loved it ever since and this Blu-ray is something really special, and in the end you will also love it as much, as the acting and script bristles with excitement and is very character driven, that only the BBC can produce. The biggest criticism to this Blu-ray disc, is how at the end of one of the episodes, you get advance images of the next episode, well this should have been edited out, as the lazy people at the 2|Entertain have just taken the original video tapes verbatim that was broadcast on the Television and not done a professional job in that department and should have edited this crass part out of the Blu-ray, as it should never have been included, so shame on you people at the BBC and 2|Entertain.
Blu-ray Video Quality – `Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky' features a competent 1080i transfer that brings the television mini-series to this Blu-ray high-definition without any major hitches. I have read critics, especially in America, where the reviewers complain that it is a heavily-grained video and is nearly devoid of any colour, well for your information you Yanks, if you had viewed it on British Television, you would of seen it as it should be observed with drab palette and slightly washed out colours, to give you what it was like in 1930s London [smoky] pub scene and remains consistently strong throughout the mini-series. It was also criticised by American critics that they felt the dull primaries often look too wash-out tonal settings, undermining the initial impact of the picture quality, well again you Yanks, that is the way it was meant to look and if you had watched this Region Free Blu-ray disc, you would see it as it is meant to be viewed. However, once you get into the mini-series, the filmmakers' bleak vision of early 20th Century London will make you realise the washed out skin tones and weak colours will seem so much more acceptable. Balanced contrast levels also help to increase the depth of the image, offering viewers deep blacks, bright whites, and clean delineation. Detail is totally brilliant and excellent as well, rendering the fine edges of hair and the crisp patterns of wallpaper with a proficient grace that doesn't suffer from errant softness and the overall impression is a very pleasing ambience and again the acting is better than anything I have viewed on any other Television around the world.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – 'Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky' is presented with a brilliant 2.0 LPCM Audio Stereo track that gives you a superb ambience of the actors performances and if critics especially in America saying they have heard it only in a fairly standard LPCM Stereo track that doesn't pack a lot of sonic punch, then obviously your Blu-ray must be totally at fault, as our Region Free Blu-ray disc is totally awesome and of course unless you view this Region Free Blu-ray disc, there is no way you can make a direct comparison since you have not seen it how it was broadcast on the BBC in UK or even the BBC Region 2 DVD, as obviously your Region A/1 Blu-ray audio mix sounds so much different than this Blu-ray import and I am glad we get the best of both worlds living in the UK. Dialogue is decidedly crisp, prioritisation is spot on, and sound effects have a decent low-end presence and the 2.0 LPCM Audio Stereo track handles everything it's given with ease and doesn't suffer from any significant issues that would distract from the mini-series and again brings a superb ambience atmosphere to this stunning BBC mini-series.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Photo Gallery  [1080i] [2:00] You get to view lots of Black-and-White and Colour images of the main actors who appeared in the BBCTV Series, plus lots of rare Behind-the Scenes images. But what is nice about this slide show, is you get the background music from BBCTV Drama Series.
Finally, ‘Twenty Thousand Streets Under The Sky' isn't going to blow anyone away with its obscure, profound insights about the human condition. On the contrary, the three stories function more as fables, each revealing familiar foibles that most, if not all of us have fallen into at one time or another. Performances and production values are all very professional. The art direction, costumes and photography with its de-saturated lighting evoke the period and the relatively hopeless lives of its inhabitants. The 1080i image and the 2.0 LPCM audio is brilliant, alas, there are no extras, apart from the Photo Gallery - and there should have been more extras with such a stunning professional BBC mini-series, as I am sure there are behind-the-scene items and even interviews with the actors. So as I stated earlier, I loved this BBC min-series when it was originally broadcast on BBC Four in the UK and I have loved it ever since, as it is a beautiful character driven mini-series and to give me my fix, I now and again put this Blu-ray on, as sometimes I get withdrawal symptoms and if you want to see totally British ultra-professional acting and sharp script, then you will not go wrong in purchasing this All Regions Blu-ray disc, especially people in North American and it is now pride of place in my BBC Blu-ray Collection. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom