Dario Argento’s impressive directorial debut, the 1970 Italian giallo, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, has just been given the 4K restoration treatment by Arrow Video, and on June 20th, Arrow’s limited edition Blu-ray/DVD set will be released. The package is well on its way to being sold out, but more on that in a moment.
In addition to this being his first time behind the camera, Argento also wrote The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. Inspired by the 1949 pulp novel, The Screaming Mimi, the film concerns an American writer working in Italy who randomly witnesses a woman being stabbed by a mysterious figure clad in black—but is that really what he saw?
At this early stage, Argento was very much influenced by the films of Alfred Hitchcock, particularly Psycho (1960), though Hitch’s The Birds (1963) gets a few nods here, too. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a mystery thriller/crime drama, with elements common in later slasher films—all characteristics of the giallo genre. The idea of being trapped, like a bird in a cage, is a frequent theme, resulting in a claustrophobic, tense atmosphere.
Some Argento trademarks are already on display here, like the framing of brutal murders at the hand of a mysterious killer, and the use of vivid colors—especially red. He’d really come into his own with the supernatural horror movies, Deep Red (1975) and Suspiria (1977), but The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is a praiseworthy first outing for the director and very much worthy of your film library. The (don’t call it a remake) remake of Argento’s classic Suspiria, directed by Luca Guadagnino and starring Tilda Swinton, Dakota Johnson, and Chloe Grace Moretz gets unveiled next year.
Not long ago, Arrow noted on Facebook that their upcoming Blu-ray/DVD of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, limited to 4,000 copies, is already 75% sold out in the US. The set includes a 60-page booklet, six lobby card reproductions, and amongst the bonus features is a 2017 interview with Dario Argento. Pre-order The Bird with the Crystal Plumage on MVD or Amazon. If you want it, you better move fast!
Did I mention the great Ennio Morricone did the music for the film? Well, he did, and you’ll hear it Arrow’s new trailer, which we’re premiering here.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Dario Argento’s horror classic ‘Suspiria’ and the most vicious murder scene ever filmed, 1977