S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
White Material [Blu-ray]
(Claire Denis, 2009)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Why Not Productions
Video: Artificial Eye Film Co. vs. Criterion Collection - Spine # 560
Region: Artificial Eye is FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Criterion is Region 'A'-locked
Runtime: 1:45:20.041 /1:45:50.761
Disc Size: 24,501,059,859 bytes /46,419,617,425 bytes
Feature Size: 23,067,886,848 bytes /31,996,876,800 bytes
Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps /34.99 Mbps
Chapters: 12 /23
Case: Standard Blu-ray case /Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: December 6th, 2010 /April 12th, 2011
Video (same for both):
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 24 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1746 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1746 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 804 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 804 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 3313 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3313 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
• Interview with Claire Denis and Christophe Lambert (10:01)
• New interviews with Denis (24:12 in 1080P) and actors Isabelle Huppert
(14:21 - in 1080P) and Isaach de Bankolé (13:09 in 1080P)
Description: In this drama directed and co-written by Claire Denis, Isabelle Huppert plays Maria, a white woman living in an African nation that has been falling into political chaos. Maria owns a coffee plantation, and regards her property as her personal domain; she would rather fight that give up her land, though her stubborn attitude prevents her from admitting that she's putting those close to her in danger.
In White Material, the great contemporary French filmmaker Claire Denis, known for her restless, intimate dramas, introduces an unforgettably crazed character. Played by a ferocious Isabelle Huppert, Maria is an entitled white woman living in Africa, desperately unwilling to give up her family’s crumbling coffee plantation despite the civil war closing in on her. Created with Denis’ signature full-throttle visual style, which places the viewer at the center of the maelstrom, White Material is a gripping evocation of the death throes of European colonialism and a fascinating look at a woman lost in her own mind.
Isabelle Huppert is superb as
Maria, delivering a complex performance that still manages
to retain our sympathy even when her stubbornness begins to
look like reckless endangerment. There's also strong support
from Duvauchelle (whose character arc is both disturbing and
horrifying) and it's a treat to see Christophe Lambert in a
decent film again.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Having watched the DVD (reviewed HERE) and then Blu-ray on consecutive nights - on the same system - I'm in a good position to assess the visual superiority of the 1080P transfer. The high-definition image quality, from Artificial Eye in the UK, is significantly stronger than the SD edition. The Blu-ray supports the film's visuals attributes so much more adeptly. This is notable in both the many, tighter, close-ups, the dimensional African terrain and many static, lingering, detail shots. It has a sense of depth where the DVD was more flat. While only single-layered it presents a strong image and the exact type of films I would like to see in the higher resolution. The DVD didn't have an unusual amount of digital noise but in this area the BD is definitely smoother.
The Criterion is dual-layered with a higher bitrates and has richer colors, better contrast and is somewhat darker. The Criterion is advertised as "a new digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Claire Denis and cinematographer Yves Cape". It advances a step beyond the Artificial Eye on the visual front.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The Blu-ray sports two options for the audio - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at a 1746 kbps and a lossless stereo choice - also a DTS-HD Master at a lesser 804 kbps. The film itself isn't audibly aggressive but there are a few moments where the more subtle separations to the rear speakers make their presence known. The dialogue is very clean and audible and there are optional English subtitles (sample below). My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Audio on the region 'A'-locked Criterion has a technical advantage but your ability to differentiate may depend on your systems or ears. It is lossless, clean and crisp and the optional English subtitles are less intrusive (see captures above.)
The supplements mimic the simultaneously released Artificial Eye DVD with a 10-minute interview involving Claire Denis followed by Christophe Lambert - plus a trailer. No commentary - which is a shame as the film deserves one but Denis got across some points in the interview.
Criterion also wins on the supplement category with new interviews with Denis (24:12 in 1080P) and actors Isabelle Huppert (14:21 - in 1080P) and Isaach de Bankolé (13:09 in 1080P), a short documentary by Denis on the film’s premiere at the 2010 Écrans Noirs Film Festival in Cameroon (12:29 in 1080i), a deleted scene (2:12 in 1080i) and a theatrical trailer (1:47 in 1080P.) Included is a 24-page booklet featuring a new essay by film writer Amy Taubin.
Still a great film on re-visitation after almost 6 months and Criterion have included viable extras as an adjunct to their competent transfer. If you haven't seen this film - we strongly recommend and the Criterion is the ultimate way to view the film in your home theater - marginally advancing the earlier-released UK disc.We don't suggest a double-dip, if you already own the AE, but the US package is the superior one.
November 17th, 2010
April 7th, 2011
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
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze