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Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Blinded by the Light (Blu-ray) (2019)

Blinded by the Light (Blu-ray) (2019)

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Released 12-Feb-2020

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy / Drama Audio Commentary-with Gurdiner Chadha and Sarfraz Manzoor
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2019
Running Time 117:15
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gurinder Chadha

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Viveik Kalra
Kulvinder Ghir
Aaron Phagura
Nell Williams
Dean-Charles Chapman
Hayley Atwell
Rob Brydon
David Hayman
Nikita Mehta
Meera Ganatra
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music A. R. Rahman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 (1509Kb/s)
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0 (1509Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Blinded by the Light is a feel-good triumph, an immensely entertaining and heartfelt coming-of-age story supported by an exceptional soundtrack filled with irresistible 1980s music. Directed by British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham, Bride and Prejudice), Blinded by the Light is based on journalist Sarfraz Manzoor's 2007 memoir Greetings from Bury Park: Race, Religion and Rock N' Roll, which is a literary tribute to his hero, Bruce Springsteen. Like the book, this adaptation illustrates the universal themes of Springsteen's lyrics and ideas which transcend race and religion, and the screenplay uses his music to explore working-class life in England during the 1980s. Although it falls just short of perfection, Blinded by the Light is jam-packed with charm and heart, emerging as one of 2019's most underrated and underappreciated motion pictures. It's fun, funny, joyous and visually sumptuous, and it confidently stands up to repeat viewings.

    In 1987, Muslim teenager Javed (Viveik Kalra) is stuck in the dead-end British town of Luton with his family, including devoutly traditional Pakistani migrant father Malik (Kulvinder Ghir). Javed dreams of becoming a writer and attending university in Manchester, but he's constrained by his family's expectations, particularly after Malik loses his job and faces severe financial strain. At school, Javed meets another South Asian student named Roops (Aaron Phagura), who introduces him to the miracle of Bruce Springsteen music. Instantly, The Boss' songs speak to Javed in a way that nothing else has, with the lyrics encouraging him to take risks and follow his dreams. Javed's passion for Springsteen's music helps him find his voice to write poetry, which is also spurred on by his English teacher, Ms. Clay (Hayley Atwell), and a kindly elderly neighbour (David Hayman) who takes an interest in the teenager's literary works. Javed soon attracts the interest of a student activist, Eliza (Nell Williams), but Malik disapproves of his son's newfound liberation, instead forcing Javed to adopt traditional Pakistani values and career paths.

    With a script by Chadha, Manzoor, and Bend It Like Beckham co-writer Paul Mayeda Berges, Blinded by the Light tackles a lot of narrative and thematic material during its two-hour duration. On top of Javed's spiritual awakening, the film delves into the tough British economy during Thatcher's reign (with job losses, high unemployment rates and industrial unrest), the era's political turmoil, racist attitudes, as well as the cultural expectations of Pakistani children like Javed. While the narrative beats are hardly new ideas in the realm of coming-of-age stories, especially the tension between Javed and his parents, it hardly matters when the execution is this confident and jubilant. Moreover, even though Blinded by the Light tugs on the heartstrings a few times in the third act, it does not feel mawkish or manipulative, which is a testament to Chadha's well-judged direction. Not everything works - the most egregious plot distraction involves Javed abruptly breaking up with Eliza, while the characters also overcome some plot obstacles a bit too conveniently - but there are no major shortcomings.

    Although not a traditional movie musical, Blinded by the Light is peppered with flights of fancy which showcase Springsteen's music, and the resulting sequences are magical. During one especially rousing scene, a despondent Javed listens to Springsteen for the first time on his Walkman, and the lyrics appear on-screen around him to highlight the poeticism and relevance of The Boss' words. In another scene, Javed fearlessly sings an impromptu version of "Thunder Road" at an outdoor market, joined by Rob Brydon (a massive Springsteen fan in real life), to woo Eliza. Such sequences risk coming across as cornball or awkward, but they work thanks to Chadha's sincere handling of the material. Chadha's directional approach is appropriately low-key during the dramatic character moments, but she cuts loose with an electric sense of style when Springsteen tracks fill the speakers, though she's careful not to overdo these sequences. Blinded by the Light features twelve Springsteen songs, including several classic hits and a few rarities that fans of The Boss will cherish. The soundtrack even contains the previously unreleased song "I'll Stand by You," which was originally written for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone but ended up being shelved for nearly twenty years. Furthermore, the recreation of '80s-era England here is virtually effortless, from the distinctive fashion to the storefronts and vehicles, as well as the technology. Additionally, the production design feels astonishingly authentic and lived-in - and it was all achieved on a very modest $15 million budget.

    Newcomer Kalra (making his film debut) is one hell of a find, creating a three-dimensional and thoroughly believable character with the role of Javed. There is not a single moment of artifice from Kalra throughout the movie - every line delivery is credible, and he conveys incredible emotional depth as he transforms from a timid teenager to a young adult, developing the confidence to come out of his shell and embrace his passion for writing. Meanwhile, as Malik, Kulvinder Ghir (Bend It Like Beckham) gives genuine gravitas and depth to what could've been a one-note role. It's the father-son relationship at the centre of Blinded by the Light which gives the movie its emotional grounding, ensuring that - despite the fantastical elements - the story is profoundly human. Also worth mentioning is funnyman Rob Brydon in a small but colourful role as the father of Javed's best friend, Matt (Dean-Charles Chapman).

    Although not an outright financial bomb, Blinded by the Light failed to light the box office on fire, which is a great injustice for a flick this insanely disarming. Much like Chadha's 2002 hit Bend It Like Beckham, this is a shameless crowd-pleaser with honest-to-goodness humanity and evocative themes which has several cultural talking points on its mind. The script cannot avoid clichés or familiar narrative beats, but it all gels, miraculously coming together to create something brilliant and narratively meaningful. Although somewhat cheesy at times, the material never feels phoney or false, which reflects the quality of the performances and the direction. Blinded by the Light is absolutely worth your time, and it would be a fantastic double feature with John Carney's similarly brilliant '80s-themed 2016 musical Sing Street.

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Transfer Quality


    Seasoned British cinematographer Ben Smithard (Downton Abbey) captured Blinded by the Light digitally using Arri Alexa Mini cameras, primarily with Zeiss Ultra Prime lenses, though he wishes that he could've shot on 35mm film to better recreate the distinct 1980s look. In British Cinematographer magazine, Smithard discusses using photographs of 1980s Britain as a reference for colour, contrast and film grain for the movie, as well as designing LUTs during the colour grading process depending on the look of certain scenes. As a result, Blinded by the Light carries a distinct cinematic appearance, and it was not designed to look ultra-sharp or highly textured - instead, it appears a little bit diffuse and soft, though one assumes this is a creative choice by Smithard. Universal Sony Home Entertainment bring Chadha's delightful dramedy to Blu-ray in AVC-encoded, 1080p high definition, framed at the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. The picture is placed on a dual-layered BD-50, and doesn't have endless audio tracks or hours of extras to contend with - as a result, it's mastered with a perfectly acceptable average video bitrate of just under 30 Mbps.

    Ostensibly due to the intended cinematic look, there's a slight smoothness to the majority of the picture, and skin in particular appears lacking in tight textures - some shots are on the smeary side (see 80:24; Shazia's hair and eyebrows are especially smeary), making me wonder if any digital noise reduction was used in post-production. Given his love of film, it's somewhat surprising that Smithard did not create a film grain LUT to better represent the '80s cinematic look; instead, the movie is basically free of noise/grain, though some noise does sneak in from time to time (see Javed in the storm as he first listens to Springsteen, or the scene in the club at 76:19). As a result, those who dislike film grain and prefer digital sheen will absolutely love the look of this Blu-ray. Nevertheless, even if the image isn't reference quality, it's still pretty good. The close-ups and mid shots fare the best throughout the movie, shower firmer, sharper textures (Javed's denim jacket always pops with fine detail), though some of the wide shots are on the softer side (see 50:50). Luckily, shadow detail usually holds up during darker scenes, thanks to Smithard's competent lighting, though, of course, a lick of High Dynamic Range could improve things. It's worth noting that an aerial shot at 95:15 looks rough, with noticeable aliasing across virtually every edge, but this appears to be baked into the source (it's presumably archival footage of America in the 1980s). Archival footage of places in the 1980s appears to be scattered throughout the movie, as more eagle-eyed viewers will spot shots featuring noticeable film grain that do not look to have been digitally captured by the production.

    Even within the limitations of 1080p, the colours throughout Blinded by the Lights are superbly saturated and bright while keeping within the intended '80s aesthetic. Skin tones are neutral, never appearing too overcooked or orange (except during some deliberately oversaturated shots, like 47:50), and some scenes appear deliberately muted in terms of colours. It's clear that Smithard spent a long time designing the film's colour palette, and it translates extraordinarily well to Blu-ray. With the video bitrate constantly staying close to 30 Mbps, sometimes even peaking at 38 Mbps, there are absolutely no significant compression problems to note. Sure, the textures are sometimes underwhelming and some shots are smeary, but, aside from there, I couldn't detect any macroblocking, aliasing, banding, or any other video anomalies. This is a superb effort from the good folks at Universal Sony and, though a 4K Ultra HD transfer would (of course) offer some improvements, it's hard to imagine anybody being overly unsatisfied with this transfer.

    English subtitles (for the hearing impaired) are included. Sampling the track, it's well-formatted, correct, and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The disc's primary audio option is a lossless, 16-bit DTS-HD MA 5.1 track, though there's also an alternative DTS-HD MA 2.0 track, a Dolby Digital descriptive audio track, and the audio commentary. For the purposes of this review, I focused solely on the DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. The lack of a 24-bit soundtrack might raise some eyebrows, especially from the devout audiophiles who will also bemoan the lack of an object-based mix (even though the picture was only mixed in 5.1), but I can't say that the track ever seems lacking in oomph or clarity. Thanks to the lossless encoding, the audio is pristine from start to finish, with perfectly comprehensible dialogue and songs that sound crystal clear. There are no issues in terms of prioritisation, nor are there any source-related or encoding-related artefacts throughout the presentation - no hissing, popping, drop-outs or sync problems.

    Naturally, the 5.1 track pushes to the rear channels whenever songs come over the soundtrack, such as the opening title sequence which is set to "It's a Sin" by the Pet Shop Boys. Since there's a lot of dialogue-heavy scenes throughout Blinded by the Light, the track is front-centric a lot of the time. Just see, for instance, Javed talking to Matt right after the opening titles; the scene is virtually mono, though the rear channels deliver the oh-so-subtle ambience of birds chirping, and the speakers do come to life when Malik drives up blasting music in his car. Other moments fare better in terms of surround activity - during school scenes, the surround channels roar to life with commotion and music, while the storm sequence at the 24-minute mark beautifully shows off the surround activity as well as the use of the subwoofer. When Javed starts listening to Springsteen tracks in the storm, the soundscape is immersive and enveloping. When characters are outside in the middle of Luton, such as the market scenes, the atmospherics are usually extremely strong and lively. Separation is also evident; in the background of some scenes, sound effects and people talking are isolated to specific channels.

    Audio is so important for a film like Blinded by the Light, and it's pleasure to report that the Blu-ray's 5.1 track is so good. It's not demo-worthy or perfect, but I can't imagine the mix sounding much better.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The extras are led by a feature-length commentary track, while the featurettes amount to barely five minutes of video material.

Audio Commentary with Director/Writer Gurdiner Chadha and Writer Sarfraz Manzoor

    The big extra on the disc is a commentary track with Chadha and Manzoor, who share a very easygoing camaraderie and bounce off one another effortlessly. Manzoor points out some of the things that are true-to-life (including Malik's car, which was expensive for the production to obtain), while Chadha discusses stylistic choices, obtaining music rights, and other scene-specific tidbits. Chadha even admits that she was the one who wrote the "Pakis Out" graffiti, because the art department refused to do so. Others topics include finding relevant archive footage from the era, the structure of the story, shooting in Luton, changing things in the editing suite, removing scenes from the script for budgetary reasons, Manzoor's one-second cameo, lines/scenes based on real-life occurrences, and more. There's an especially amusing anecdote about Viveik Kalra trying (unsuccessfully) to put on a vinyl record for one shot. Chadha even has something to eat during the track. There are a lot of pauses throughout as the pair enjoy watching parts of the movie, but this is still a worthwhile track on the whole that fans should set aside the time to watch.

    Note: This track is actually only accessible from the "Set Up" menu; as a result, I didn't even realise this was on the disc until I looked at the back cover.

Featurette (HD; 3:52)

    This is a brief promotional piece with behind-the-scenes footage, cast and crew interviews, and film clips. It's a shame that this isn't more substantive, but some of the on-set footage is utterly fascinating (the crew actually projected lyrics on the wall behind Javed in one scene, rather than using CGI).

Sundance Featurette (HD; 1:02)

    This is a very short piece with footage of the filmmakers' visit to the Sundance Film Festival. Interesting but very slight.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The region free American Blu-ray release from Warner Bros. features the following supplements:

    The U.K. Blu-ray release features the same extras as the local disc. This is a very tough call, but I'm calling it a draw.


    I loved Blinded by the Light, and whenever I've recommended the movie to family or friends, they thank me for it. It's a feel-good triumph, and it's exactly the type of movie I needed in 2020. It also made me think about my late father, who was a huge Springsteen fan. That kind of profound connection is rare in cinema.

    On Blu-ray, the movie looks and sound great, with minor caveats. In a perfect world, there would be a 4K release, but I'm not too bothered. The extras, unfortunately, are a bit disappointing. All in all, this one comes highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Saturday, September 19, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

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