A Separation comes to Region B-locked UK Blu-ray complete with a 1080p High Definition video rendition, presented in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen. Whilst not demo quality, the video is still very good indeed, giving up plenty of detail across the piece despite the budgetary and shooting restrictions inherent to the production. Mostly naturally lit, with no significant tinkering, the majority of the brighter scenes exhibit excellent clarity and detail in terms of fine objects, close ups and longer shots, whilst some of the slightly less well-lit sequences take on a heavier degree of noise and do not look quite as pleasing. Generally, however, there aren’t any serious visual issues, with no significant edge enhancement, and no particularly unruly DNR. The colour scheme is all suited to the setting – and restricted therein – but it is never less than realistically represented, with dominant browns and greys coming across well, skin tones healthy and natural, and reasonably solid black levels. It’s far from an exceptional video presentation, but it gets the job done, and does it fairly well, especially considering the nature of the production itself.
I was far from impressed by the aural accompaniment to this title. The release provides two different flavours of audio track: Persian LPCM 2.0 and Persian DTS-HD 3.0 Master Audio. Now, whilst I understand the restrictions inherent to a title like this, there’s a difference between an underdeveloped sound array and an unrefined one, and here we get some rather strange high-frequency feedback which occurs during many of the scenes set within Nadir’s apartment. Although not pointedly obtrusive, it is a frustrating little defect; a high-pitch electric noise that sounds like somebody has left a battery charger on for too long. It’s the kind of thing that normally gets ripped straight out and replaced by ADR, but this isn’t that kind of movie – which is all well and good, if it were a clear, perfect recording, but it simply isn’t. Similarly the dialogue levelling can be a bit up and down, again as a result of the on-set shoot.
Still, these aren’t huge issues when you consider the fact that we are quite lucky that the film even got made! And, despite a couple of teething problems, the rest of the track is perfectly fine, providing decent accompaniment to the proceedings; shining in particular during the sequences where the score takes over, and offering up a largely natural, realistic rendition of this life drama.
A trio of video interviews adorn the disc – not quite enough to shout out about, but certainly something for fans to check out. They involve the director, Asghar Farhadi, who talks about his career in writing and directing, whilst also looking at the narrative of the film, it’s complex characters and the moral quandaries that they find themselves in, and the production shoot in general; as well as actress Leila Hatami, who talks about how she got involved in movies and what she brought to this project. The disc is rounded off with a Theatrical Trailer for the main feature.
A Separation, the Oscar-Winning Best Foreign Language Film of 2012, not only gives us a keen insight into what it is like to live in another world – Iran – but also offers up a far more universal commentary on the varying degrees of truth and lies that we trade in across our lives, showing the potential for horrific consequences on both sides of the ostensibly black-and-white coin. It’s far more than just a candid look at divorce in the foreign lands of Iran; indeed it’s far more than just a snapshot of Iranian life and class struggle as a whole; and even more than a commentary on the West’s perception of life in Iran – posing huge and significant questions about an individual’s morality, about right and wrong, and the vast grey area where the three overlap.
On Region Free UK Blu-ray we get reasonable video and audio presentation but scant few extras, although fans of the film should still add this to their collection and newcomers should consider this a must-watch addition to their wanted list. Highly recommended.
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