Indochine Blu-ray Review
"You drain people like you drain rubber from the trees."
Lovingly restored, the sumptuous French period epic Indochine returns to small and big screens for its 25th anniversary.When widowed French plantation owner Eliane (Catherine Deneuve) adopts the orphaned daughter of her Vietnamese friends, both of their lives will change for ever. Whilst Eliane gains the daughter she always wanted in Camille, things get far more complicated when they both fall in love with the same young naval officer (Vincent Perez), and as the native nationists grow stronger and the walls close in on the French colonists, Camille's world starts to fall apart.A lavish period production with gorgeous, epic scenery and a broad, sweeping tale across the decades, Indochine offers an interesting look at slavery and plantation work in an intoxicating world seldom brought to life in film. Catherine Deneuve was nominated for an Oscar for her commanding performance as a strong woman caught in the maelstrom of love and revolution, and director Regis Wargnier skillfully frames the drama against the colourful background, earning a Best Foreign Film Oscar in the process.
Picture QualityIndochine is delivered on Region B-locked UK Blu-ray courtesy of Studiocanal, with the film's original negative digitised and restrored at 4K, reportedly frame-by-frame, by L'Immagine Ritrovata, and rendered with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer on this Blu-ray, in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
It's impressive work, and you can see the time and effort put into the restoration, which leaves us with a clean and clear print devoid of any noticeable damage, boasting some wonderfully detailed close-ups and steeped in a richly textured layer of suitably filmic grain.
It's impressive work, and you can see the time and effort put into the restoration
The image isn't perfect - grain levels do fluctuate depending on lighting and setting, but some of the shots are staggeringly gorgeous, and likely far better than they have ever looked before, with a rich colour scheme adhering to the natural tones of the scenery and setting but brimming with vibrance and depth, right down to the excellent black levels that reveal plenty of shadow detail and don't appear to suffer any crush problems.
A quarter of a century on and Indochine has likely never looked better.
Sound QualityThe accompanying audio comes in two distinct flavours - a more natural-sounding stereo Linear PCM 2.0 track adhering to the movie's original theatrical presentation, and a more dynamic DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 offering which most will find the better experience. Both are presented in the film's original French language with clear subtitles that do their best to interpret the film's dialogue, but don't always remain absolutely faithful in terms of translation.
Most will find the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track more dynamic
Dialogue is firmly prioritised across the frontal array, retaining clarity throughout, whilst the effects pick up the atmosphere in the plantation environment and give the epic some further rich texture. The score sweeps in and picks up during the more emotional sequences, and provides a welcome background accompaniment. Whilst the two-channel counterpart is still a solid offering, and the 5.1 array is not exactly brimming with power and precision on the remix, it's still likely the favoured choice.
ExtrasAlthough there's only one extra, it's a good offering - a new hour-long documentary, Indochine: A French Epic, which has recent interviews with all the key players in the cast and crew, and a nice look at the historical background behind the narrative.
Blu-ray VerdictA quarter of a century on and Indochine has never looked better
Studiocanal's Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release of Indochine delivers a fine 4K restoration, with very good audio options, and a strong new accompanying retrospective documentary, leaving this a must-have package for fans of the film.
You can buy Indochine on Blu-ray here
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.99
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