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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Into the Abyss [Blu-ray]


(Werner Herzog, 2011)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Werner Herzog Filmproduktion

Video: MPI



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

Runtime: 1:47:14.428

Disc Size: 20,759,485,228 bytes

Feature Size: 20,037,894,144 bytes

Video Bitrate: 19.99 Mbps

Chapters: 14

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 10th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1666 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1666 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English (SDH), Spanish, none



• Trailer (2:28 in 1080P)





Description: In his fascinating exploration of a triple homicide case in Conroe, Texas, master filmmaker Werner Herzog (Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Grizzly Man) probes the human psyche to explore why people kill and why a state kills. Through intimate conversations with those involved, including 28-year-old death row inmate Michael Perry (scheduled to die within eight days of appearing on-screen), Herzog achieves what he describes as a gaze into the abyss of the human soul. Herzog s inquiries also extend to the families of the victims and perpetrators as well as a state executioner and pastor who've been with death row prisoners as they've taken their final breaths. As he s so often done before, Herzog s investigation unveils layers of humanity, making an enlightening trip out of ominous territory.



The Film:

Into the Abyss’ is a Herzog film focused not on an individual but a situation: the conviction of two men for the horribly banal 2001 murder of a Texan nurse, her son and his friend, and the impending execution of one of those convicted. As well as interviewing the prisoners, Herzog talks to their loved ones; to the victims’ families; and to people in Texas’s capital punishment system..

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

In Werner Herzog’s new documentary, “Into the Abyss,” sorrow spreads like an oil slick on water. The movie finds, in a relatively banal, thoroughly senseless American story of crime and punishment, enough darkness to make you wonder about the title. Is death, which unites murderers with their victims and executioners, and ultimately with everyone else, the abyss that Mr. Herzog wants us to contemplate? Or is he directing our attention toward a black hole that sits in the middle of life?

Excerpt from A.O. Scott at the NY Times located HERE

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

Into the Abyss, shot on HD, surfaces on Blu-ray from MPI in a typical 1080P transfer from digitally shot productions.  This format handles detail exceptionally well and contrast is superior than we have seen in the past from similar Herzog documentaries in this medium. It can look a glossy with a bit of smear but I suspect as technology improves this versatile DV will continue to produce better visual results. There is some news-clip footage - which is predictably rougher - but overall this is a clean, competent transfer despite the single-layering. It probably can't look significantly better. This is the way it looks and Blu-ray supplies a powerful presentation.














Audio :

The Blu-ray gives the option of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1666 kbps or a linear PCM stereo track at 1536 kbps. There isn't any demonstrative separation that I can recall - the documentary is almost all dialogue - sometimes verité choppy depending on the locale. The audio is rendered adeptly without flaw and there are optional English or Spanish subtitles. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A-locked.


Extras :

Nothing but a trailer, however the film itself speaks volumes.



Herzog is a highly intelligent filmmaker and can develop substantial points in a sneaky fashion - that can appear blatantly obvious at first but dramatically hit you later with their subtlety. The conversations with Michael Perry, and those affected by his crime, create an air of voyeurism - especially with their frankness. Into the Abyss is an unforgettable and powerful experience that opens the door for endless discussion. The bare-bones Blu-ray will make for a thought-provoking night in the home theater. Strongly recommended!

Gary Tooze

April 3rd, 2012



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 5000 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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