PictureThe disc has been provided with a theatrically correct 1.85:1 aspect picture that has been anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TVs. This picture is so close to being reference, I was impressed and disappointed in equal measure. First up the detail level is excellent, everything being sharp and distinct. Next there are the colours, Cronenberg uses a rather soft palette, earth tones, and all are faithfully reproduced being bold when called for or subtle shading when needed. The first problem arises with the contrast and brightness level, for the most part they are set well, giving some decent black range, however, there were more than a few instances when the blacks did wander towards the grey. Digitally there were no compression problems, but there were some instances of edge enhancement, especially in the beginning of the film. Being such a new film there were no instances of print damage but it did suffer the odd smattering of film grain in one or two scenes. So whilst for the most part the picture is outstanding, the odd little problem that does occur becomes ever so frustrating and distracting by comparison, at least to me, I suspect those less picky well be more than satisfied.
SoundThe film has been given two English Dolby Digital sound tracks a 5.1 and a 2.0 surround. The 5.1 is a wonderfully subtle mix that belies its quality. There is an abundance of direction effects from cars to voices, the rears come into play to add to the effects oh so delicately. Things like outside ambience, wind, tress, birds etc. really add much while not sounding overbearing as in some action flicks. The range sits mainly in the middle until the various gun shots which really pack a punch with a super thump from the sub. Due to the relative lightness of the overall sound track when these thumps come they really rock the room and then slowly die away with a little reverb and echo. In short they sound incredible, especially the shot gun round. Howard Shore's score is wonderfully sweeping and sounds gorgeous through all the speakers, mind I did think it contained similar elements to his LotR's score in places. Dialogue was clear and precise, given direction, and able to pick out the nuances of speech from whispers to shouts. A hugely rewarding sound track delivering quality with subtly, very impressive.
ExtrasTo go along with this film there are some quality extras all presented in 1.85:1 ratio that add much to the value of this purchase. First up is the audio commentary with Cronenberg himself. He is a very knowledgeable about his craft and has much to inform and enthuse about. This commentary is rather scene specific and whilst he speaks in depth about all aspects there are prominent pauses between some scenes, not that distracting but worth noting. His delivery is enthusiastic and overall is an entertaining listen.
Next up is Acts of Violence, a behind the scenes documentary for the film. Split into eight 'acts' this feature take us through the production of the film from beginning to end with endless interviews with everyone concerned with the making. There is a huge amount of behind the scenes footage, backed up by a fraction of film footage. All aspects are covered up to and including fish Friday. Fox and Warner take note this is how to make a behind the scenes documentary!
Scene 44 is a deleted scene that can be played with or without Cronenberg's commentary which also has its own mini making of; The unmaking of scene 44. It is a very short scene, a dream sequence cut by Cronenberg himself as he felt it was from a different film and not in keeping with 'History'. I agree. The making of is of the same quality as the above documentary with plenty of interviews and behind the scenes material, especially funny to watch Cronenberg lampoon himself about the pistol and where it should come from.
Violence's history, just as the title presumes is a side by side comparison between the European and United States cuts of the film. In short the U.S. are deprived a few blood splats from two scenes (by digital matting) demanded by the MPAA, the European cut is uncensored. How times have changed. I just love censorship, the act that causes these few splats is deemed ok, the length of the scene is exactly the same, its just a few drips or squirts that are unacceptable. Madness.
Too commercial for Cannes is a video diary of the films premier at Cannes, we are taken into the screening room, and are privy to some of the pressures put on directors and actors in major festivals like this. From the epileptic inducing flash photography to forty separate interviews back to back. However his film was exceptionally well received so it all ends well. I liked this feature, it was on a topic I'd not seen before, its title comes from Cronenberg's feeling that the film was a bit too commercial for a festival like Cannes, clearly he was wrong.Finally there is the theatrical trailer for the film.
VerdictA History of Violence is not quite a masterpiece, but it's as close to one as ever I've seen. With wonderfully complex characters and an intricate story expertly told it is a film that one can never tire of watching. As a DVD EIV has provided an excellent package, superb picture and sound are backed up by a fully comprehensive extras package making this an excellent purchase.
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