Aria appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Due to the wide mix of directors featured here, the quality of the different segments varied, but the picture generally looked quite good.
Sharpness usually seemed solid. A few moderately soft portions appeared, but those issues occurred infrequently. Most of the movie looked reasonably accurate and distinct. Jagged edges and moiré effects created no concerns, but I noticed some light edge enhancement at times. In regard to print issues, occasional examples of streaks, specks and marks occurred, but those didn’t cause any substantial problems. I also witnessed a little light grain at times. . For the most part, the DVD remained fairly clean and fresh.
With the wide mix of directors, Aria offered radically varying colors, but the disc showed them well most of the time. On occasion, the hues seemed a little muddy, but the colors usually came across as acceptably vibrant and distinct. Black levels seemed nicely deep and rich, while shadow detail appeared appropriately opaque but not overly dense. If I needed to choose the best looking short, I’d go with “Rigoletto”, largely due to its excellent colors. The other segments also seemed strong most of the time, and I felt generally pleased with the visuals of Aria.
I also thought the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Aria worked acceptably well. Obviously, the soundfield mainly dealt with the music. The score showed good stereo imaging, and the surrounds contributed a nice sense of reinforcement for those elements. Effects also cropped up at times, and the track created a positive sense of ambience. Elements came across as neatly localized and they moved smoothly between the channels, and the rear speakers added moderate atmosphere. Because music so heavily dominated the piece, the soundfield remained modest, but it appeared fine for the material.
Audio quality seemed fairly solid. Dialogue and effects appeared infrequently and provided small parts of the track. Both of those elements seemed acceptably distinct and accurate, but they didn’t stand out in any particular way. Music generally appeared reasonably good. Highs came across as bright and vivid, but low-end seemed a little flat. The music demonstrated decent bass, but I felt that domain should have seemed stronger. Nonetheless, the soundtrack to Aria remained positive for this film.
Aria skimps on extras. All we find are Filmographies for directors Robert Altman, Bruce Beresford, Bill Bryden, Jean-Luc Godard, Derek Jarman, Franc Roddam, Nicolas Roeg, Ken Russell, Charles Sturridge, and Julien Temple. I can’t expect audio commentaries from all those subjects, but some additional information about this unusual project would have been useful.
If you want to see something unusual, take a look at Aria. The movie contains 10 short films based on works of opera. While not all of them succeed, the project as a whole seems inventive and refreshing. The DVD offers reasonably good picture and sound but lacks substantial extras. Still, with a list price of about $20, Aria merits a look.