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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


(aka 'Huozhe' or 'To Live', 'Lifetimes', 'Leben!', 'Vivre!')

 

http://www.dvdbeaver.com/film/direct-chair/zhang.htm

China  1994

 

A melodramatic story that is not the least bit melodramatic. Spanning 4 decades, Zhang Yimou’s “To Live (aka Lifetimes) is an exploratory masterpiece that transcends its political inferences and rests heavily on it’s real meaning; the importance of family. Yimou includes previous themes of survival, perseverance and the resilience of the human spirit also found in many of his other films, ‘Not One Less’, ‘The Road Home’ and ‘The Story of Qui Ju’.

Not unlike Abbas Kirostami’s films, the simplicity and elegance portray many hidden themes that hit with deep and lasting impact. Addiction, death, separation, birth, hardship, friendship, war, fortune are all explored with an adept level of un-cloying sentimental balance. A powerful script with excellent acting (Yimou’s wife Gong Li and Ge You) makes this a near perfect film (out of )… but lackluster ERA DVD. The picture quality was slightly better than ERA’s ‘Raise the Red Lantern’ (although the films colors not as vibrant, it was less fuzzy) but the subtitles were fraught with multiple spelling errors and dialogue inaccuracies (evidenced by my wife). I am also totally angered at the lack of sub-titles for the title cards. Although there are only a few they are extremely important to the story, but instead of translation we just see some Chinese characters on the screen. Arghhh!!

How ‘Pulp Fiction’ beat out this film at Cannes in 94’ is beyond me. I’m equally perplexed by Ebert’s 3 ½ / 4 rating. This film will easily move into my Top 10 Foreign language films of all time in my next update. I have never been disappointed by a Zhang Yimou film and this may actually end up being my favorite and he is quickly becoming my favorite director."

Posters (Click far right to enlarge)



Theatrical Release: May 18th, 1994 - France

Film Reviews                                                               More Reviews                                                                       DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison

ERA Home Video NTSC (Taiwan) Region 0 - NTSC vs. MGM Region 1 - NTSC

(ERA - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT, MGM - Region 1- NTSC - LEFT)

DVD Box Covers



 

Distribution ERA Home Video
Region 0 (Taiwan)
MGM
Region 1 (US)
Runtime 2:06:36 2:12:20 
 

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

BitRate ERA

MGM

Video 1.69:1/4:3 Letterboxed WideScreen
Average Bitrate: 4.52 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.78:1/16:9 
Average Bitrate: 7.6 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround  Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround 
Subtitles Traditional Chinese, English (removable) English, Spanish, French, none.
Features • Filmographies (in Chinese only) • Anamorphic widescreen Theatrical Trailer (01:44)
DVD Release Date: 3rd quarter 1998
Keep Case
Chapters: 9
DVD Release Date: July 1st, 2003
Keep Case
Chapters: 20
Comment Compared to the digitally manipulated, vertically squeezed ERA transfer, the MGM looks far superior. It is sharper. The colors seem more real and muted in direct contrast to the obvious brightness boosting of the ERA. Both versions appear slightly cropped in various situations. I haven't been able to determine exactly where the missing 6 minutes from the ERA title are, unless it was taken from a PAL source and the speed not compensated (it looks to be about 4%). Skin tones in the MGM look a little red to me and I am still hoping for a better release for this masterpiece film with some substantial Extras (as opposed to just a trailer on the MGM). The MGM DVD is the obvious choice, but it still does not meet the deserved expectations that this fine film should be treated to.   

 Gary Tooze

 

Recommended Reading in Chinese/Hong Kong/Taiwanese Cinema (CLICK COVERS or TITLES for more information)

Check out more in "The Library"


 



DVD Menus

(ERA - Region 0 - NTSC - RIGHT, MGM - Region 1- NTSC - LEFT)

 



(ERA - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP, MGM - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(ERA - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP, MGM - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(ERA - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP, MGM - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)

 


(ERA - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP, MGM - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)


(ERA - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP, MGM - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)


(ERA - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP, MGM - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)



(ERA - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP, MGM - Region 1- NTSC - BOTTOM)


DVD Box Covers



 

Distribution ERA Home Video
Region 0 (Taiwan)
MGM
Region 1 (US)
 

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

MGM

Sound:

-

Extras: -
Menu: ERA



 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...


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