BFI edition of silent classic Underground wins best Blu-ray at DVD awards

The restored, high definition edition of Anthony Asquith’s 1928 classic of London life is named the year’s best Blu-ray by Italy’s esteemed Il Cinema Ritrovato festival.

Samuel Wigley

The BFI Blu-ray edition of silent classic Underground has been named best Blu-ray in the 2014 DVD awards hosted by the prestigious Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Italy. Restored by the BFI National Archive to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the London underground, this 1928 film is a story of love, jealousy and murder that doubles as a vivid snapshot of life in the capital in the 1920s.

Chaired by festival director Peter von Bagh and including Lorenzo Codelli, Alexander Horwath, Mark McElhatten, Paolo Mereghetti and Jonathan Rosenbaum, the awards jury acclaimed the film’s “gorgeous restoration”, which was giving the film “a well-deserved second breath”. The disc’s extras were also singled out for offering “many background materials, including rare shorts tracing a cultural history of the British underground train system”.

Sam Dunn, head of the BFI’s DVD department, comments: “We’re delighted that this wonderful release has been recognised by the international film archive community in this way. The BFI National Archive’s exquisite restoration and Neil Brand’s brilliant score make it a complete and utter joy to revisit Asquith’s enthralling film, while the DVD and Blu-ray extras offer many and varied ways to engage with and explore the content.”

Other winners included Criterion’s three-film Roberto Rossellini collection as best Blu-ray box-set, Second Run’s DVD version of Czech sci-fi picture Ikarie XB-1 as best rediscovery, and Eureka’s box of late Kenji Mizoguchi films for best special features.

Founded in 1986, Bologna’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival is dedicated to rediscovering rare and little-known films from earlier decades from film history. 

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