H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Leaving Las Vegas [Blu-ray]


(Mike Figgis, 1995)




Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal Studio

Video: Universal Studio Canal Video



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:51:25.679

Disc Size: 27,433,066,573 bytes

Feature Size: 23,471,628,288 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.63 Mbps

Chapters: 33

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 17th, 2009



Aspect ratio: 1.66:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 924 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 924 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

DTS Audio French 1509 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit
DTS Audio German 768 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
DTS Audio Italian 768 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
DTS Audio Portuguese 768 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit



Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, none



• Behind the Scenes footage (9:53 SD)

Interview footage (5:26)





Description: Best Actor Oscar winner Nicolas Cage and Best Actress nominee* Elisabeth Shue set the screen ablaze in this profoundly moving love story. Nominated* for two additional Academy Awards Director and Adapted Screenplay this emotionally charged powerhouse of a film graced over 100 10 Best Lists including Roger Ebert's #1 Movie of the Year. Ben Sanderson (Cage) is a career alcoholic who has hit rock bottom. Trashing all personal and professional ties to his L.A. existence, he sets off for the lights of Vegas on a mission: to drink himself to death. There he meets Sera (Shue), a beautiful, seen-it-all hooker. From the moment Ben and Sera connect, they form a unique bond based upon unconditional acceptance and mutual respect that will change each of them forever. In the words of David Thompson of Los Angeles Magazine, Leaving Las Vegas is a masterpiece.



The Film:

What moves me the most in movies is not when something bad happens, but when characters act unselfishly. In "Leaving Las Vegas," a man loses his family and begins to drink himself to death. He goes to Vegas, and there on the street he meets a prostitute, who takes him in and cares for him, and he calls her his angel. But he doesn't stop drinking.

The man's name is Ben (Nicholas Cage). The woman's name is Sera (Elisabeth Shue). You will not see two better performances this year. Midway in the film someone offers Ben the insight that his drinking is a way of killing himself. He smiles lopsidedly and offers a correction: "Killing myself is a way of drinking." At one point, after it is clear that Sera really cares for him, he tells her, "You can never, ever, ask me to stop drinking." She replies in a little voice: "I know." The movie is not really about alcoholism. It is about great sad passion, of the sort celebrated in operas like "La Boheme." It takes place in bars and dreary rented rooms and the kind of Vegas poverty that includes a parking space and the use of the pool. The practical details are not quite realistic - it would be hard to drink as much as Ben drinks and remain conscious, and it is unlikely an intelligent prostitute would allow him into her life. We brush those objections aside, because they have nothing to do with the real subject of this movie, which is that we must pity one another, and be gentle.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE



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

Leaving Las Vegas came out in HD-DVD in France and this is likely the same VC-1 transfer. It doesn't look especially good on Blu-ray. 16mm production roots and the visual style have not radically benefited the film's move to 1080P. While it shows some grain - I wouldn't even say that this is a demonstrative positive aspect of this, extremely hazy, transfer. Colors are dull and the image itself is dark and lifeless which, of course, is most probably somewhat intentional. However, it is still the weakest looking image I've seen so far in this new format.  One minor plus is that it seems to look better in motion than the screen caps below... but not extravagantly better. I wish I had a DVD to compare but suspect that it is less a fault of the transfer and more an accurate representation of the original film. It may very well be the best Leaving Las Vegas will look for your home theater but purchasers should be aware that it is not representative of the heights that Blu-ray can scale. It is in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio but I believe the film was composed theatrically for 1.85. I'll attempt to verify this.















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 2.0 audio at 924 kbps (English) is as similarly weak as the image but, again, is indicative of the original production. Dialogue is clear enough to follow if a bit scattered with background interference. There are a number of foreign language DUBs as well as subtitle options - although English is not one of them. The disc starts up with requesting a country to choose - of which one is Australia. Thankfully this does not force subtitles when the English language options is chosen as we have seen recently from some other French Blu-rays. My Momitsu tells me this is region FREE and I can confirm it is English-friendly. 




Extras :

The supplements are vapid filler. Described on the box as a 'Making of...' it really constitutes 10-minutes of B-roll behind-the-scenes with no narration or discernable dialogue. There is also a 5.5 minute segment that runs like a trailer with very brief input from Cage, Figgis and Shue.



I had only seen this once before and, frankly, I didn't like it very much. I am, however, very keen on other films where the central theme is alcoholism/addiction - including The Days of Wine and Roses and Clean and Sober. But, on Blu-ray my opinion altered and I began to appreciate the film's subtleties and the outstanding performances. Purchasers should take into account the Leaving Las Vegas' 16mm roots and temper their expectations in regards to the AV and weak extras. 

Gary Tooze

June 30th, 2009





About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 7500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








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