(aka 'Death and Dishonor')

Directed by Paul Haggis
USA 2007


Loosely adopting the format of the investigative thriller, and inspired by the true story of Lanny Davis and his murdered son as reported by co-scripter Mark Boal in Playboy, Paul Haggis’s second cinematic distress flare – following his race-orientated ‘Crash’ – follows the efforts of retired soldier and ex-military policeman Hank Deerfield (Tommy Lee Jones) to determine first the whereabouts then the fate of his missing son, recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq. It’s a thoughtful, sincere and moving film, buttressed by a fine, central performance by an actor at the top of his form but one which depends on the viewer’s indulgence in Haggis’s play with genre commitments in favour of wider psychological or even political implications.

As such, its format is closer to the cinema of moral quest – following such great exemplars as John Ford’s ‘The Searchers’ – with aspirations to discuss crises in a country at large through the self-examination of the quester in particular. Thus the most successful scenes are its most domestic and personal: watching Jones folding the sheets military-style in his grotty motel close to the army base in Fort Rudd, New Mexico to which he’s come on an instinct on the news of his son’s disappearance. Without spoiling the film’s revelations, Deerfield is soon entering a personal hell caused by institutional and national forces which he is hesitant at first to acknowledge. That Jones is playing a disciplined, undemonstrative and straight-speaking man of the old-school – ‘It’s the least, I could do,’ says a helper. ‘I’d say that’s correct’, replies Deerfield – makes the actor’s careful gradations of stress, loss and disillusionment all the more moving.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE


Theatrical Release: September 1st, 2007 - Venice Film Festival

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DVD Review: Warner - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 2:01:08 
Video 2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.58 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

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


Audio English (Dolby Digital 5.1), DUBs: Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1) 
Subtitles English, English (CC), French, Spanish, None

Release Information:
Studio: Warner Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1

Edition Details:

• In the Valley of Elah documentary - After Iraq (27:13) / Coming Home (15:21)
• Additional Scene (7:48)

DVD Release Date: February 19th, 200
Keep Case
Chapters: 27



An extremely competent Warner SD transfer - dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic in the original 2.35 ratio. Detail is strong, there is minimal digital noise and contrast has some stellar moments. I expect the upcoming Blu-ray will improve upon all areas. I encountered no digital manipulations and the print is, obviously, super clean. There can be no real complaints with the image excepting it appears somewhat flat at times - more a product of its SD limitations. For home theatre viewing it is perfectly adequate and represents the film very well.  The 5.1 track also has options for two DUBs and sounded fine being moderately rear-channel responsive to the, mostly dialogue-driven, narrative. There are optional subtitles in English (CC), English, French and Spanish.

There is a supplemental documentary (divided into two parts) In the Valley of Elah - After Iraq (27:13) and Coming Home (15:21) plus and additional scene (7:48). The doc has input from many - Lee Jones, Deakins, Sarandon and more. The additional scene is interesting - more so than usually seen on short inclusions of other DVD supplements.

I just finished watching and I think the film is pretty good - if a shade heavy-handed in its message(s) - great performances (Tommy Lee Jones is 'essential') and wonderful cinematography - less than subtle at times but it's so professionally laid out and topical it is hard not being very impressed to some degree. I suppose my opinion may change over time but I think it is very much worth watching ... for many reasons - Lee Jones probably topping that list.   

Gary W. Tooze


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Distribution Warner Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC


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