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Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale [Blu-ray]
(Jalmari Helander, 2010)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Agnès b. Productions
Video: Oscilloscope Laboratories
Region: FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 48,800,366,191 bytes
Feature Size: 24,403,451,904 bytes
Video Bitrate: 31.98 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: October 25th, 2011
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3566 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3566 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
English (SDH), English, none
• The two original short films in which the Christmas tale
was born, Rare Exports Inc. (2003 - 7:19) and Rare Exports - The
Official Safety Instructions (2005 - 10:51)
DVD of the feature included in the package
Description: It's the eve of Christmas in northern Finland,
and an 'archeological' dig has just unearthed the real Santa
Claus. But this particular Santa isn't the one you want
coming to town. When the local children begin mysteriously
disappearing, young Pietari and his father Rauno, a reindeer
hunter by trade, capture the mythological being and attempt
to sell Santa to the misguided leader of the multinational
corporation sponsoring the dig. Santa's elves, however, will
stop at nothing to free their fearless leader from
captivity. What ensues is a wildly humorous nightmare – a
fantastically bizarre polemic on modern day morality.
A film for those who think they don't believe in Santa Claus
What unfolds is a dark comic thriller and action-hero send-up, a strange alloy of daredevil helicopter maneuvers and night of the living elves. Captured in atmospheric widescreen camerawork, the end-of-the-world frozen landscape (actually Norway) is spectacular and spooky.
Finnish writer-director Jalmari Helander first explored the dark origins of Father Christmas in a pair of YouTube shorts, Rare Exports Inc and The Official Rare Exports Inc Safety Instructions, which follow skilled trappers in Lapland who hunt wild Santas and train them to be benevolent, child-friendly Christmas icons. This feature-length prequel shows how the business began, and reveals what the feral, naked old men who run wild in the frozen wastes actually are. It’s also an essay in the kind of kid-friendly horror popular in the ’80s (think Gremlins or The Monster Squad), albeit with sub-titles, slaughtered reindeer and plentiful geriatric-male nudity.Excerpt from Empire Online located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Oscilloscope Laboratories have supplied us with a highly impressive Blu-ray of a wonderful Finnish gem; Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. The image quality is solid with excellent contrast supporting healthy detail. This is dual-layered with a very high bitrate and the visuals are very showcasing depth and exhibiting healthy, rich black levels. Colors are bright and true and the frequent darkness has no digital noise encumbrances. The cinematography utilizes some majestic mountain scenery (in Norway) and the 2.35:1 scope maximizes the widescreen effect. This Blu-ray has no flaws that I could detect - the image is clean and dynamically sharp sporting vibrant, yet un-manipulated colors. Big Thumbs up!
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The audio is an equal match to the high-level HD visuals. We get a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a strong 3566 kbps. There are some atmospheric effects creeping stealthily to the rear speakers and a few instances of depth that can shock. There is some original music by Juri and Miska Seppä that is not always festive and the creepy moments are well supported with a haunting quality that sounds fresh and crisp. Excellent rendering. There are optional English and English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE.
Aside from the two original short films in which the Christmas tale was born, Rare Exports Inc. (2003 - 7:19) and Rare Exports - The Official Safety Instructions (2005 - 10:51) - both accessible on YouTube last I saw - we get a 1/2 hour The Making of Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale with the director/writer and cast giving soundbytes to behind the scenes preparations. There is a short piece on the creepy concept art aptly entitled “Blood in the Snow” and a cool animatics & computer effects video comparison plus behind the scenes production stills photo gallery, a Finnish trailer and for the Blu-ray only (not the simultaneously released DVD - also included in the BD package) the 1964 ,1 hour 20-minute, dud Santa Claus Conquers the Martians described as 'featuring Pia Zadora in her first movie role' (is that a positive?) It's horribly fun if you can last - but the picture quality is the pits with plenty of damage. Overall, though a great collection of supplements.
October 19th, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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