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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Melancholia [Blu-ray]


(Lars von Trier, 2011)


Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT


Also available in the Lars Von Trier Boxset:



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Zentropa Entertainments

Video: Artificial Eye vs. Magnolia Home Entertainment



AE is Region 'B'-locked / Magnolia is Region 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:15:17.609    /    2:15:24.574

Disc Size: 47,175,500,494 bytes    /   43,169,329,402 bytes

Feature Size: 34,302,937,344 bytes    /    33,114,654,720 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.15 Mbps   /   27.75 Mbps

Chapters: 12  /  17

Case: Standard Blu-ray case (both)

Release date: January 23rd, 2012   /   March 13th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2842 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2842 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit


DTS-HD Master Audio English 3149 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3149 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)



English (SDH), none    /    English (SDH), Spanish, none



• Commentary by director Lars von Trier

The Making of Melancholia ('About' - 11:29 in 1080i, 'Melancholia Visual Effects' - 6:43 in 1080i, 'The Universe' - 4:11 in 1080i, 'The Visual Style' - 9:33 in 1080i)

• Filmbyen - the new mecca of cinema (54:06 - 567i)

• Interviews (Lars von Trier - 6:11 in 1080i, Kristen Dunst - 3:48 in 1080i, Charlotte Gainsbourg - 4:39 in 1080i)

Trailer (2:03 in 1080P)


The Making of Melancholia ('About' - 12:00 in 1080P, 'Melancholia Visual Effects' - 7:02 in 1080P, 'The Universe' - 4:25 in 1080P, 'The Visual Style' - 10:11 in 1080P)

HDNet Look at Melancholia (5:06 in 1080P)

Trailer (2:14 in 1080P) / Trailer 2 (2:09 in 1080P)




Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Description: Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Michael (Alexander Skarsgård) are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister (Charlotte Gainsbourg) and brother-in-law (Kiefer Sutherland). Meanwhile, the planet, Melancholia, is heading towards Earth... MELANCHOLIA is a psychological disaster movie from director Lars von Trier.


In this beautiful movie about the end of the world, Justine and Michael are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous... party in the home of her sister Claire, and brother-in-law John. Despite Claire's best efforts, the wedding is a fiasco, with family tensions mounting and relationships fraying. Meanwhile, a planet called Melancholia is heading directly towards Earth.



The Film:

Lars Von Trier continues to make the same film —about a masochistic woman who finds transcendence when the worst possible thing happens to her — in different genres. We’ve had it as a love story (Breaking The Waves), a musical (Dancer In The Dark), a small-town drama (Dogville), and a horror film (Antichrist); this is the science-fiction version, and the worst possible thing happens to everyone in the universe

It opens, like Antichrist, with an ultra-slo-mo horror scored to classical music, offering surreal images (Kirsten Dunst in a wedding dress as birds fall from the skies, Charlotte Gainsbourg and a child sinking into a golf course) that add up to the end of the world. The two sections are named for sisters who are both von Trier heroine-martyrs: Dunst’s melancholy Justine rejects every trapping of happiness and is thus not depressed by the end of all things, while Gainsbourg’s better-adjusted Claire has much more (happy marriage, child, lovely home) to lose and is enraged by cosmic cataclysm.

Excerpt from Kim Newman at Empire Online located HERE

Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" opens with music from Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde," mourning and apocalyptic, and disturbing images of a world not right. A woman dressed as a bride runs through a forest whose branches seem to grab at her in a Disney nightmare. She floats in a pond, holding flowers, like Ophelia. Another woman makes her way with a child over marshy grass that sucks at her. Looming in the sky is another planet, vast in size. The Earth is about to end.

These scenes are isolated prologue. As time begins to run, we meet a newlywed couple being driven to their wedding party at a grand estate. It is a small gathering, only large enough to establish that few in this family can abide one another, and some may be mad. The bride is Justine (Kirsten Dunst). Her husband is Michael (Alexander Skarsgard). Her sister is Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg). Their estranged parents are Gaby (Charlotte Rampling) and Dexter (John Hurt). The mansion is owned by the brother-in-law John (Kiefer Sutherland). Joining the party is Jack (Stellan Skarsgard), Justine's boss, who owns an ad agency and is attending primarily to wrest an advertising tagline from her. The wedding planner is played by the ominous Udo Kier, who you will agree is correctly cast to run a wedding at the end of the world.

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 first half of von Trier's Melancholia is bathed in warm yellows - frequently shot with a handicam. Later the film adopts some blues to export a colder feeling. Utilizing Dogma 'rules' there is s definite documentary aura to the presentation. The Blu-ray picks-up everything extremely well. It is dual-layered with a decent bitrate. Although shot (partially?) with HD the final image was transferred to 35mm and the high-resolution transfer is progressive. Aside from some waxiness associated with the medium - the image has strong contrast and looks fabulous. The film's visuals are immediately impressive - almost hypnotizing. It looks as though Artificial Eye has procured an authentic presentation with their rendering. Melancholia looks fantastic... with kudos to Manuel Alberto Claro's cinematography.

Not much difference in the video transfers. The slightly brighter Magnolia is also dual-layered with a decent bitrate. Technically the Artificial Eye may have a slight advantage with more penetrating black levels but the Magnolia skin tones are slightly cooler. It's not enough to quibble over, in my opinion. Only projection users will notice any difference at all.




Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Artificial Eye - Region 'B' - Blu-ray TOP vs. Magnolia - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



Audio :

Audio is offered in two flavors - both lossless. For a more dynamic presentation there is a DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 2842. This sounds very good with some nice subtleties poking around the room. The Blu-ray defaults to a liner PCM 2.0 channel stereo track at 2304 kbps. It seems equally as robust supporting the important scenes of the film with intensity and depth although lacking the separations. Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde"  is very impressive via the uncompressed track. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

Magnolia also a strong DTS-HD Master - perhaps slightly more robust - although  my ears could not distinguish much difference. The Wagner is still extremely impressive - there are optional English and Spanish subtitles on the Region 'A'-locked disc.


Extras :

Peter Schepelern (associate professor at University of Copenhagen) does a commentary with von Trier. The director is, as always, very frank and discusses scenes that he is less-satisfied with and details he felt relevant to the viewing experience. It is quite interesting - he has a good time and it is very much worth listening to. Supplements include the 4-part The Making of Melancholia with self-explanatory titles ('About' - 11:29 in 1080i, 'Melancholia Visual Effects' - 6:43 in 1080i, 'The Universe' - 4:11 in 1080i, 'The Visual Style' - 9:33 in 1080i). There is also a piece - mostly in English (some French and Danish with subs) - lasting almost an hour entitled Filmbyen - the new mecca of cinema referencing this 'new style' with clips from von Trier's work via the film studio complex 'Filmbyen' located in Hvidovre just outside Copenhagen, Denmark. It was founded by Lars von Trier and Peter Aalbæk Jensen's company Zentropa. The informative documentary is directed by Pablo Tréhin-Marçot in 2007. There are three shorter interviews in 1080i (with Lars von Trier - 6:11, Kristen Dunst - 3:48, Charlotte Gainsbourg - 4:39) and lastly a 2-minute trailer also in HD.

The same 5-part Making of is included but now apparently in NTSC speed. Significantly Magnolia loses the von Trier commentary. They also lose the interesting Filmbyen' featurette but gain a superfluous HDNet advert. There are two trailers (as opposed to one on the UK disc) and the the US Blu-ray is bookmarkable.



Even those expecting a lot from von Trier's film - should not be disappointed by Melancholia. The elements to shock, produce enlightenment, visceral responses and contemplative silences are all present but the film's visual attributes seem to take a primary role. This is quite wonderful - and may be my favorite of the director's work. The AE Blu-ray is fabulous - a great package with excellent a/v and impressive extras. It has a very strong recommendation!

I gain more from this film each time I watch it - the Magnolia is acceptable - basically looking and sounding equal to the AE. Extras go to the Artificial Eye but region 'A'-locked von Trier fans shouldn't be disappointed by the package at the offered price - it has essential value. Strong 'buy signal' to those who don't already own the UK Blu-ray.

Gary Tooze

December 22nd, 2011

February 29th, 2012


Also available in the Lars Von Trier Boxset:



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
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Gary W. Tooze






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