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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

In a Better World aka Hævnen [Blu-ray]


(Susanne Bier, 2010)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Det Danske Filminstitut

Video: Sony



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

Runtime: 1:58:12.085

Disc Size: 34,618,807,181 bytes

Feature Size: 30,146,998,272 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.83 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: August 30th, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Danish 2617 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2617 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 1309 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1309 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 896 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), English, French, none



• Commentary by director Susanne Bier and editor Pernille Bech Christensen

Interview with director Susanne Bier (15:53)

7 Deleted Scenes (13:40)

• Theatrical Trailer (2:02)





Description: The lives of two Danish families cross each other, and an extraordinary but risky friendship comes into bud. But loneliness,... frailty and sorrow lie in wait.


Anton is a doctor who commutes between his home in an idyllic town in Denmark, and his work at an African refugee camp. In these two very different worlds, he and his family are faced with conflicts that lead them to difficult choices between revenge and forgiveness.

Anton and his wife Marianne, who have two young sons, are separated and struggling with the possibility of divorce. Their older, ten-year-old son Elias is being bullied at school, until he is defended by Christian, a new boy who has just moved from London with his father, Claus. Christian's mother recently lost her battle with cancer, and Christian is greatly troubled by her death.

Elias and Christian quickly form a strong bond, but when Christian involves Elias in a dangerous act of revenge with potentially tragic consequences, their friendship is tested and lives are put in danger. Ultimately, it is their parents who are left to help them come to terms with the complexity of human emotions, pain and empathy.



The Film:

This year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar winner switches between war-torn Africa and bourgeois Denmark to pose telling questions about violence and responsibility. Medic Anton (Mikael Persbrandt, pictured) saves lives in a refugee camp, but a brutal warlord stymies his efforts. Should he turn the other cheek? That’s his reaction back home when menaced by a local lout, in an impeccable passive resistance lesson for his bullied teenage son Elias (Marcus Rygaard). The latter, though, is far more impressed when his classmate Christian (William Jøhnk Juel Nielsen) takes a seriously kick-ass approach to anyone giving them hassle. What price non-violence when a good thrashing gets results? Ace screenwriter Anders Thomas Jensen lines up the opposing arguments in a crisp, no-nonsense manner, allowing the viewer to feel the moral dilemmas as keenly as the characters do, while director Suzanne Bier marshals the cast without a false note. True, the resolutions on offer seem conventionally pat, yet the tough questions stay with you in an absorbing drama which pushes the viewer’s buttons with effective intelligence.

Excerpt from TimeOut London located HERE

Having just won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this provocative Danish parable from director Susanne Bier (After the Wedding) tries its luck at the U.S. multiplex, where drivel rules. Fight the power. Despite detours into sentiment and preaching, In a Better World is an emotional powerhouse. Anton (Mikael Persbrandt) is a divorced doctor of torn responsibilities. He frequently leaves his son, Elias (Markus Rygaard), at home in Denmark to work in Kenya among victimized women.

Excerpt from Peter Travers at Rolling Stone located HERE

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

Image quality on Sony's Blu-ray of In A Better World is generally strong but sometimes erratic exporting a waxy softness that is probably inherent in the digitally-based film production. The transfer also exhibits a glossiness that I also presume to be a part of the Red One Camera process used. From this I believe Sony's dual-layered Blu-ray is quite effective and accurate in reproducing the original visual representation. Colors are often extreme with bright blues and detail has impressive moments in close-ups. The film has some incredibly serene and idyllic landscapes and there is a sense of depth at times. Overall, I trust this to be an authentic rendering that supplies an effective presentation balancing the building level of emotional tenseness.


















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 in original Danish at 2617 kbps easily seems to handle all the film audibly exports. There are few instances of aggressive depth or separation and the film is notable for its impressive and contemplative score from Johan Söderqvist (Things We Lost in the Fire). Predictably, there are no flaws in the audio transfer. The disc has optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

Supplements include an informative commentary with director Susanne Bier and editor Pernille Bech Christensen, a separate 15-minute interview with Bier and about 13-minutes of, sometimes revealing, deleted scenes (7). There is also a theatrical trailer and some Sony previews.



The Danish title, Haevnen, literally translates to English as “revenge”. While this is apt - it brings up the provocative nature of the film's themes and hints at the a complex 'good vs. evil' subtext. I can't deny it is a great film - but also one that can make the viewer uncomfortable - and I prefer those two issues to be mutually exclusive with the former not relying on the latter for... praise. I think In a Better World is well worth the time invested and a film I will recommend to most. This duplicates my feeling on the director's Things We Lost in the Fire - an incredible cinematic power that, I felt, was being slightly blocked or restrained. I look forward to revisiting the film in the future. The Blu-ray is a worthy presentation and one we can endorse. 

Gary Tooze

August 23rd, 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.

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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