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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka "The Lovers of the Arctic Circle")

directed by Julio Medem
Spain 1998

'The Lovers of the Arctic Circle' tells the story of Ana and Otto. We are informed quite early that the character's names are palindromes; spelled the same forward or backward. The patterns of their lives seem to have been influenced in similar mathematical or geometrical continuity. A circle appears to be the defining and repeated vision. The film can be divided into three stages that occasionally drift back and forth in a non-linear timeline: their childhood (at age nine by Sara Valiente and Peru Medem- the directors son) adolescence (played by Kristel Díaz and Víctor Hugo Oliveira), and young adulthood (Najwa Nimri and Fele Martínez).

 

Destiny, fortune, coincidence, chance and near-misses are primary in their undefined relationship, one which fate never  shines upon favorably for its consummation.  At times their obvious bonding was deemed to be compared to 'siblings', but even at an early age they knew this was not the case. The knowing smile of a child was to prophecy an unrequited future.

 

Romance and focal intersections are paramount to appreciating 'Lovers of the Arctic Circle'. If these are keen elements to your cinematic narrative pleasure then this is definitely a film to watch. I was reminded of Polish director Kieslowski and how simple 'slice-of-life' moments viewed on film gain vital importance in the scope of life's dynamic with interpretations and reflections of the past. The imagery of this film is both haunting and at times humorous and charming in its simplicity. I give this a very strong recommendation. out of

Gary W. Tooze

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DVD Comparison:

Optimum - Region 2- PAL vs. Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Tartan Region 2- PAL vs. Soqepaq Video - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Pavel Borodin for Soqepaq Video captures!

(Optimum - Region 2- PAL LEFT vs. Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Home Vision

Region 1- NTSC

 

Tartan - Region 2- PAL - LEFT vs. Soqepaq Video - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

 

 

Tartan

Region 2 - PAL

Soqepaq Video (Spain)
Region 2 - PAL
Distribution

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Home Vision

Region 1- NTSC

Tartan

Region 2 - PAL

Soqepaq Video (Spain)
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 1:43:56 (4% PAL speedup) 1:48:16 1:43:36 (4% PAL speedup) 1:43:40 (4% PAL speedup)
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.4 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.35:1:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.5 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Aspect Ratio16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 4.59 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.21
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes

Bitrate:

Optimum

 

Bitrate:

Home Vision

 

Bitrate:

Tartan

.

Bitrate:

Soqepaq

 

Audio

Spanish (Dolby 5.1)

Spanish (Dolby 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) 

Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) 

Spanish (Dolby 5.1)

Subtitles English, none English, and none English, (non-removable) English, French and none
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Optimum

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen - 2.35:1

 

Edition Details:
• Trailer
• Deleted Scenes
• Travel Diary featurette

• Filmography

• Stills Gallery

DVD Release Date:
February 5th, 2007


Transparent Keep Case

Chapters 12

Release Information:
Studio: Home Vision

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• Trailer (1:40)
• 2-page liner notes with essay by Robert Foster

DVD Release Date: April 25th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 15

Distributor: Tartan Video

Aspect Ratio  2.35:1 anamorphic

Edition Details:

  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Star And Director Filmographies
  • Stills Gallery (10)
  • Film Review And Interview (rolling text screens with music)

DVD Release Date: July 24, 2000
Keep Case
Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio: Soqepaq Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Actors
• Trailers
•  Making Of

DVD Release Date: ?
Keep Case

Chapters 9

 

Comments:
ADDITION: Optimum - Region 2 - PAL - Feb 2007 - The Optimum release appears to have been shared from the French Studio Canal. It is very dark and is not tight to the frame with a slim border on the edges. Some whites are blown out (see books in the back of the car). The image is also a shade cropped on the left, right and top edges next to the all three other editions. It still exhibits the blue hue that makes me feel the film was intentionally shot this way. The Home Vision release looks a little vertically stretched next to the other three. For my money I still prefer the Home Vision in appearance. The new Optimum offers only a 5.1 track where the Home Vision gives a 2.0 option as well.

The Optimum offers some good supplements - there is a 20 minute 'Travel Diary' subtitled featurette with director Medem discussing the film and there are about 6 minutes worth of deleted scenes. There is also a trailer, filmography and stills gallery.

The Optimum is good but presently a bit pricey. If you aren't as ecstatic over the film as I am - I would suggest the NTSC as the best bet although for Medem fans you may wish to nab the Optimum for the Travel Diary.

***

ADDITION: Home Vision - Region 1 - NTSC - May 2006 - FINALLY we have a decent version of this wonderful film. The image is much sharper and colors are far more balanced and true. Subtitles are superior and removable. We are given both a 5.1 and 2.0 audio option, but there are no extras to speak of aside from Foster's brief liner notes overview (and the trailer). Still I am thrilled to own this in such a strong transfer.

This is one film I just adored way out of proportion to what I should have (I know). I look forward to director Medem's new work enjoying both Sex and Lucia and The Basque Ball: Skin Against Stone. I still have strong suspicions that he will be quite the force in the future of world cinema.

***

When Pavel emailed me these screen captures, I initially was VERY excited. I was unaware there was another version of this film on DVD WITH English subtitles... and I was sure any other version would be superior to the Tartan - that has burned in subs, poor audio and extreme edge enhancement in the image. Alas I was disappointed again. The Spanish Soqepaq DVD has a hazy bluish tinge to it - is not anamorphic and is a far cry from an improvement. Although the image is quite blurred, with that overall bluish haze - I think the colors are more vibrant than the Tartan (look at the parachutist capture below). The audio is an improvement over the Tartan with 5.1 Surround. The Soqepaq has a "Making of.." documentary that I would like to see and suspect it is superior to the Tartan's filmographies etc. The Tartan is minimally cropped - but nothing to fret over. I LOVE this film and am frustrated that there still is no worthy DVD edition of it available.

 - Gary W. Tooze


DVD Menus

Optimum - Region 2 - PAL

 

 

(Home Vision - Region 1- NTSC )

 



(Tartan - Region 2- PAL - LEFT vs. Soqepaq Video - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 


 

Screen Captures

 

(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Home Vision - Region 1- NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan - Region 2- PAL - 3rd vs. Soqepaq Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)


 


(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Home Vision - Region 1- NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan - Region 2- PAL - 3rd vs. Soqepaq Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


 

(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Home Vision - Region 1- NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan - Region 2- PAL - 3rd vs. Soqepaq Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Home Vision - Region 1- NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan - Region 2- PAL - 3rd vs. Soqepaq Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


 

(Optimum - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Home Vision - Region 1- NTSC 2nd vs. Tartan - Region 2- PAL - 3rd vs. Soqepaq Video - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


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Image:

Home Vision

Sound:

Home Vision

Extras: Optimum

Menu:

Home Vision

 

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Optimum

Region 2 - PAL

Home Vision

Region 1- NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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