‘NEDS’ comes to UK Region B locked Blu-ray with a gritty looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The picture has a deliberately grainy look to it, so much so that I wondered if it had been shot on Super 16 rather than 35mm, although at time of writing I can find no confirmation of this. The look fits in perfectly with the 1970’s Glasgow location and a gentle Pro-mist filter on the lens aids the period look. Skin tones are of the pale pink, weather beaten Scottish variety (although pale blue might have been more accurate) and the whole palette realistically reflects the location. Colours are natural and the black of the Headmaster’s robe is deep enough while whites are nicely kept in check. There are many night shots within the housing estate where John lives and these convey the damp darkness nicely. The film is sharp enough to maintain a documentary feel without achieving the bite of a glossy, modern day blockbuster – which would have been well and truly out of place. It would be completely inappropriate to claim any 3D ‘pop’ here, but there’s no obvious DNR or image sharpening. The transfer does its job very well indeed.
The audio on ‘NEDS’ comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix that conveys an atmospheric presence via the surrounds and threatening rumble courtesy of the subwoofer. The echo in the school toilets transported me back through time, while the deep bass during dramatic moments caused a feeling of impending doom. One standout moment of surround sound is when John throws a brick loaded with some fireworks through the window of his ‘friend’ and the fireworks whizz and whistle from speaker to speaker. The local disco sequence engulfs us in thudding, boomy bass – which jogged my memory of such events. Various period musical numbers cause the main stereo pair to spring to life when required and helped to place me in the 1970’s. The centre weighted dialogue causes the listener to strain their ears at times, not through any fault of the mix, but simply because it is delivered at low level and mumbled – which is pretty natural, as we don’t all speak so loudly that people sitting at the back of a hall can hear us. Even as a Scottish person, I found I had to pay close attention to what was being said, but that’s probably because I’ve lived in the South East of England for nearly thirty years. This is a pretty good mix, although the use of subtitles will help those South of Watford to fully understand what is going on.
Peter Mullan Masterclass (HD, 23 mins) - Gravel voiced Peter Mullan is interviewed on stage at the BFI and displays a self effacing sense of humour. He discusses working on a Spielberg film ‘War Horse’ as well as his own work. This is interesting and amusing stuff. It’s nice to get some insight into the man, juxtaposed with clips from the film.
Deleted scenes (HD, 18 mins total) - As it says on the tin, a collection of deleted scenes although most are extensions of final cuts that were used in the movie. The longest, at about 8 minutes, is the sequence where Wee Malky tries to teach Baseball to the Summer School kids. Memories of a Teacher looking for enthusiasm among their students came flooding back. It was just too funny and would have detracted from the serious tone of other parts of the film. Other cut scenes don’t really add much so you can understand why they were removed from the film.
The recent gritty Scottish ‘coming of age’ drama ‘NEDS’ arrives on UK Region B Blu-ray with an atmospheric 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer that accurately communicates the intended look of the film. The visible grain structure and use of in camera filtration combines with the pale skin tones to convey a realistic image.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio has moments where it genuinely shines but the deep ambient rumbles are most impressive. Dialogue can appear mumbled but this is because of the natural delivery of lines and nothing to do with the transfer. Strong language is used throughout but the script is both witty and funny while capturing the Glaswegian sense of humour.
A BFI interview with Peter Mullan and some deleted scenes make up the bonus material.
As a movie, it’s the absorbing tale of an intelligent young school boy who, through exterior influences, becomes a knife wielding thug. Not so depressing as it sounds, the film features an amazing performance by young Conor McCarron as the central character and a very impressive job by director Peter Mullan. Not for the faint hearted or those easily offended by strong language, but a rewarding viewing for others.
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