Modern noir meets high opera in the French suspense flick Diva. Delivery boy Jules has an opera obsession. He spends his small disposable income on sophisticated sound equipment and manages to bootleg a live performance of... more » his favorite diva, Cynthia Hawkins (played by real-life opera singer Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez). But Jules is spotted making the recording by shady investors who want the tape. As if that weren't enough, a second cassette, filled with enough evidence to topple an international drug and prostitution ring, makes its way into Jules's mailbag. Writer-director Jean-Jacques Beineix does a terrific job of adapting Delacorta's pulpy novel for the screen, keeping all the excitement while adding a layer of depth. A movie to make even a dedicated opera hater appreciate a perfectly sung aria, Diva has enormous loft apartments, thugs galore, gorgeous visuals, and a corker of a chase scene. Watch it--and watch your back. --Ali Davis« less
Susan B. from PARKSLEY, VA Reviewed on 1/9/2011...
This is a visually and aurally stunning movie. We've seen in before, and ordered it to make it part of our permanent collection. Yes, the female lead is a little wooden, but fair enough. She's an opera singer, not an actress. And that's as it should be, as the movie is partly about the gorgeousness of her art, and her determination that it not be commercialized (recorded and sold). She does have a gorgeous voice, doing an aria from "La Wally" that is amazing. But the movie is also a quirky, french-style thriller that is very entertaining, and above beautiful visually.
Stylish, hip thriller marred by poor transfer
C. Burch | San Francisco, CA USA | 05/28/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Worst transfer yet of a great film - Should be recalled
PatrickO | New York, NY United States | 06/08/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Thank you, Anchor Bay
C. Burch | 06/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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 Amazon.com 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?"
A wonderful relief from the prior awful Fox-Lorber disk
PatrickO | New York, NY United States | 06/21/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Who Murdered DIVA? The Meridian Collection, That's Who!
Tom S. | New York City | 08/04/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"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."