Directed by David Cronenberg
USA 2005

Based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, A History of Violence is the tale of Tom Stall. Tom is a loving family man and well-respected citizen of a small Indiana town. But when two savage criminals show up at his diner, Tom is forced to take action and thwart the robbery attempt. Suddenly heralded as a hero who took the courage to stand up to crime, people look up to Tom as a man of high moral regard. But all that media attention has the likes of mobsters showing up at his doorstep, charging that Tom is someone else they've been looking for. Is it a case of mistaken identity or does Tom have a history that no one knows about? Either way, someone's about to find out if there's a history of violence.
 

****

Though he avoids platitudes, David Cronenberg is a troubled moralist who lingers over cherished mythologies to find their dark residue: this masterpiece, an art film deftly masquerading as a thriller, seems to celebrate small-town pastoralism and critique big-city violence, but this position turns out to be double-edged. Josh Olson adapted his script from a graphic novel, yet the story develops with a subtlety that's entirely cinematic; two contrasting sex scenes between the hero (Viggo Mortensen) and his wife (Maria Bello), added by Cronenberg, are especially masterful.

Excerpt of Jonathan Rosenbaum's capsule at the Chicago Reader located HERE.

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 16th, 2005 - Cannes Film Festival

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DVD Comparison:

 New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. New Line - Region 1 - NTSC vs. SF-Film - Region 2- PAL

Big thanks to Henrik Sylow for the PAL screen captures!

1) New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray LEFT

2) New Line - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) SF-Film - Region 2- PAL RIGHT

 

DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution New Line Home Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray New Line Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC

SF-Film

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:35:43.404 1:35:30  1:31:45 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

Disc Size: 23,062,469,659 bytes

Feature Size: 19,590,955,008 bytes

Total Bitrate: 27.29 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray VC-1 Video

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.87 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

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

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

Bitrate:

NTSC

Bitrate:

PAL

Audio Dolby TrueHD Audio English 1321 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1321 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps)
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)   English (Dolby Digital 2.0), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Subtitles English, Spanish, None English, Spanish, None English, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: New Line Home Video

Disc Size: 23,062,469,659 bytes

Feature Size: 19,590,955,008 bytes

Total Bitrate: 27.29 Mbps

Single-layered Blu-ray VC-1 Video

Edition Details:

• Commentary by director David Cronenberg
• Acts of Violence (1:06:17)

• Scene 44 with optional commentary by Cronenberg (2:39 / 16x9)
• "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" featurette (1:24)
• "Too Commercial for Cannes" featurette
• "The Unmaking of Scene 44" featurette (7:05)

• Trailer (2:26)

Blu-ray Release Date: February 10th, 2009
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters: 17

Release Information:
Studio: New Line Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by director David Cronenberg
• Deleted scene with optional commentary by director David Cronenberg
• "Acts of Violence" hour-long documentary divided into 8 parts
• "Violence's History: U.S. vs. International Versions" featurette
• "Too Commercial for Cannes" featurette
• "The Unmaking of Scene 44" featurette

DVD Release Date: March 14th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 17

Release Information:
Studio: SF-Film

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Commentary by director David Cronenberg
• Acts of Violence (1:06:12 / 16x9)
• Scene 44 with optional commentary by Cronenberg (2:39 / 16x9)
• The unmaking of scene 44 (7:05 / 16x9)
• Violence vs History (1:22 / 16x9)
• Too commercial for Cannes (8:53 / 16x9)
• Trailer (2:26 / 16x9)

DVD Release Date: March 28, 2006
Keep Case

Chapters 17

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: - New Line Blu-ray - February 09': Although the new Blu-ray is vastly improved over the DVD editions in terms of image - this is certainly not a stellar example of 1080P capabilities. New Line have developed a reputation for digital manipulations and this single-layered disc is softer than I think it should be - hints of DNR, edge-enhancement, noise artifacts and minor boosting linger in the VC-1 rendering. On the positive the image does have some depth and colors, especially skin tones, are remarkably improved. This is the best I've seen it look but I can't shake the weaknesses.

Audio gets a bump to TrueHD and it did seem to have more range than the older 5.1 (also included as an option.) with some prominent scenes of 'violence' being the most noteworthy. The Blu-ray offers English or Spanish subtitles as the previous NTSC DVD.

Extras duplicate the previous releases with the commentary and 8 part scene dissections. Nothing is in HD that I tested.

Still a great film - with some deft directorial touches. The Blu-ray isn't up-to-snuff but is still the best A/V transfer available.  

****

 

ADDITION: - SF-Film PAL - March 06': Color, sharpness, framing - all seem to be on a par or, at least, negligible difference. Extras are the same with the excellent commentary. PAL and NTSC appear to be treated quite equally on this under-recognized masterpiece - probably Cronenberg's best film.

NOTE: the extra ‘Violence’s History’ details the differences between the UK version and the MPAA-approved US edition; it actually comes down to the volume of blood and any specific cuts. Cronenberg felt the differences were too negligible to get upset about. It has some depth and colors, especially notable in skin tones, are improved.

****

 

ON THE FIRST DVD: A very decent package from New Line - a strong and acceptable anamorphic and progressive image if not exceedingly stellar (but appears un-manipulated), a very adept and detailed director commentary, and many relevant and well-thought-out extra features. On the negative the image has a slim black border surrounding it slightly limiting horizontal resolution and I find the subtitles (at least thankfully white as opposed to bright yellow) very large and a bit intrusive. Not much to complain about and for such a stacked DVD it makes our recommended purchase quite enticing. I strongly suggest it for the detailed featurette and commentary analyses of the film alone.

The questions we are asking in David Cronenberg A History of Violence are personal moral probes - do we have the nobility to opt for a simple pastoral lifestyle - desirous that the story steers in that direction? or do we overly-crave the heroic and vengeful manner of cinema violence? Innocence vs. corruption. Is it possible that Mr. Cronenberg can sate us in both arenas? Do we require the thriller aspects of film to escalate in rudimentary fashion - with it, infusing the usual run-in-the-mill seedy and evil gangster caricatures that we know so well - and love to hate? Can't we simply brush them aside... yet still somehow feed our inglorious hunger for the darker side of humanity. Can we disguise our ever-increasing passion for the human conflict and retire to a world where an amber light does not mean 'speed up'? Do we have the strength to be so guileless? I don't think Mr. C really thinks so - it's a desensitizing drug that we hunger for... and he's the pusher. But is he really telling us that by examining our desires it may be the first step to becoming cognoscente of where we focus our preferences. I'd like to think so anyway.

Gary W. Tooze

 


Blu-ray Extras

 


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(New Line - Region 1 - RIGHT vs. SF-Film - Region 2- PAL LEFT)

 
 
 
 

 


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Subtitle Sample - Note: can't obtain subtitles on Blu-ray yet...

 

1) New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) New Line - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) SF-Film - Region 2- PAL BOTTOM

 

 


 

Screen Captures

 

1) New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) New Line - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) SF-Film - Region 2- PAL BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) New Line - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) SF-Film - Region 2- PAL BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) New Line - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) SF-Film - Region 2- PAL BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) New Line - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) SF-Film - Region 2- PAL BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) New Line - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) SF-Film - Region 2- PAL BOTTOM

 

 

 


 

1) New Line - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) New Line - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) SF-Film - Region 2- PAL BOTTOM

 

 


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DVD Box Cover

   

Distribution New Line Home Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray New Line Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC

SF-Film

Region 2 - PAL




 

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Mississauga, Ontario,

   CANADA

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