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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Broken Embraces aka Los abrazos rotos [Blu-ray]


(Pedro Almodóvar, 2009)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Canal+ España

Video: Sony Pictures



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:07:32.645

Disc Size: 39,931,918,013 bytes

Feature Size: 31,825,778,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.93 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 16th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 3858 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3858 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps



English (SDH), English, French, none



• The Cannibalistic Councillor (7:35)

• 3 Deleted scenes (12:20 in HD!)
Pedro Directs Penélope (5:53)
On the Red Carpet: The New York Film Festival Closing Night (3:13 in HD!)
Variety Q&A with Penelope Cruz (6:18 in HD!)
Theatrical trailer (1:45 in HD!)
Previews: An Education, Coco Before Chanel, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Volver, Rachel Getting Married, Frozen River, Adoration, The Damned United, and "Breaking Bad" (Season One and Two)





Description: A luminous Penélope Cruz stars as an actress who sacrifices everything for true love in Broken Embraces, Academy Award -winning filmmaker (2003, Best Writing, Original Screenplay, Talk to Her) Pedro Almodóvar's acclaimed tale of sex, secrets and cinema. When her father becomes gravely ill, beautiful Lena (Cruz) consents to a relationship with her boss Ernesto (José Luis Gómez), a very wealthy, much-older man who pays for her father's hospitalization and provides her a lavish lifestyle. But Lena's dream is to act and soon she falls for the director of her first film - a project bankrolled by her husband to keep her near. Upon his discovery of the affair, Ernesto stops at nothing to ruin Lena's happiness.



The Film:

Pedro Almodovar loves the movies with lust and abandon and the skill of an experienced lover. "Broken Embraces" is a voluptuary of a film, drunk on primary colors, caressing Penelope Cruz, using the devices of a Hitchcock to distract us with surfaces while the sinister uncoils beneath. As it ravished me, I longed for a freeze frame to allow me to savor a shot.


The movie confesses its obsession upfront. It is about seeing. A blind man asks a woman to describe herself. Since we can see her perfectly well, one purpose of this scene is to allow us to listen to her. How to describe the body, the hair, the eyes? Movies are really about the human body more than anything else. I was recently faulted for lingering overmuch on Ingrid Bergman's lips in "Casablanca." Anyone, man or woman, who doesn't want to linger on Ingrid Bergman's lips is telling us something about themselves we'd rather not know.

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


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

The 1080P transfer on Broken Embraces is generally very pleasing with colors (a trademark of Almodóvar films) looking quite brilliant. It rarely reaches pristine levels of detail but I suspect it is accurate to the original theatrical appearance. The Blu-ray from Sony is competent - dual-layered with a healthy video bitrate. Flesh tones seem accurate - contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. Daylight scenes are the most impressive. Nothing is overly dark. This Blu-ray has a consistent feel without egregious flaws of any kind. It is Predictably super clean without a blemish. This Blu-ray does it's job as well as can be expected - I have no complaints at all.


















Audio :

This is by no means an action film and the DTS-HD Master 5.1, in original Spanish, at 3858 kbps sounds flawless. Mostly a dialogue-driven soundstage while any minor effect noises come through as distinct. Alberto Iglesias score has some augmentation with pieces by Uffie and Can - the closing piece is particularly memorable. There are optional English of French subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked disc.



Extras :

The supplements mirror the simultaneously released DVD with a new short - The Cannibalistic Councillor running about 7.5 minutes which ends up as mostly an amusing soliloquy. Pedro Directs Penélope is a split screen for 5-minutes with the director communicating during a take with Cruz. On the Red Carpet: The New York Film Festival Closing Night has brief soundbytes from many involved including the director. The Variety Q&A with Penelope Cruz may be the most interesting in HD for about 6-minutes. She talks about herself , her work and generally opens up nicely to the questions. We also get 3 deleted scenes in HD, a theatrical trailer and stack of previews. A commentary would have made the package more complete but these extras get a simple passing grade. I think the film deserves more discussion.



As I watched this - in about the half-way mark - it became obvious to me that this was a Pedro Almodóvar film - despite my knowledge of such or the casting of Cruz. His work has a certain class, style and eroticism that is easy to identify. I don't think I have seen a film of his that wasn't highly appealing in one way or another. Broken Embraces is in keeping with this standard. It mixes genres always keeping note of human emotion and on Blu-ray it's the best way to see it in your home theater. Aside from her natural beauty - Cruz has that type of rare camera attraction that can almost eclipse the story it is so overwhelming. In short, we certainly recommend! 

Gary Tooze

March 5th, 2010




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 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 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:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze








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