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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry [Blu-ray]


(Alison Klayman, 2012)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Expressions United Media

Video: Artificial Eye



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

Runtime: 1:34:37.875

Disc Size: 26,635,728,594 bytes

Feature Size: 20,042,606,592 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.32 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 8th, 2012



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1658 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1658 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, none



Interview with director Alison Klayman (21:23)
Trailer (2:28)





Description: Over three years celebrated documentary filmmaker Alison Klayman followed leading contemporary artist Ai Weiwei as he prepared for exhibitions, spent time with his family and came to blows with the Chinese government. What resulted would create the documentary event of the year.



The Film:

Ai Weiwei is known for many things; €great architecture, subversive in-your-face art, and political activism. He has also called for greater transparency on the part of the Chinese state. Director Alison Klayman chronicles the complexities of Ai's life for three years, beginning with his rise to public prominence via blog and Twitter after he questioned the deaths of more than 5,000 students in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The record continues through his widely publicized arrest in Beijing in April of 2011. As Ai prepares various works of art for major international exhibitions, his activism heats up, and his run-ins with China's authorities become more and more frequent. In this unprecedented look at Ai and those close to him, Klayman's camera captures his forthrightness and unequivocal stance. She gives a larger picture of the artist as an individual, a symbol of China's oppression, and a powerful voice against a country that still denies its citizens many basic freedoms.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Alison Klayman’s film offers a lively and rounded view of Ai. She gained impressive access to him during 2010 and was able to draw on his archives and speak to his friends and followers, many of them artists themselves. There are talking-head interviews and biographical accounts of the influence of his father, the poet and political prisoner Ai Qing, as well as a section on the decade Ai spent in New York in the 1980s.

But it’s the reportage scenes, at home, in the studio or out and about with Ai, that prove most engaging. The film follows the artist as he tries to take legal action against the Chengdu police for assaulting him in 2009 during a 12-hour detention aimed at preventing him from testifying at the trial of Tan Zuoren, a fellow activist. Like Ai, Tan has campaigned for his government to reveal more about the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan. Also illuminating are scenes of Ai with his mother (‘Every night I can’t sleep,’ she says to him, crying. ‘I’m worried I won’t see you again’) and his young son, whom he admits he fathered outside his marriage.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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

This documentary was shot in HD at 1080i and transferred to 1080P Blu-ray without conversion (to, say, 35mm) so the image has combing.  But it exports all the attributes of HDV - very sharp and crisp in the 1.78:1 frame. Colors are brighter and truer than SD could relate and contrast seems handled as well as the production format can. There is no excessive gloss. The 1080P supports the documentary in a, frequently, striking image quality.  It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and, aside from the combing - a function of the production, there are really no flaws with the rendering.















Audio :

The Artificial Eye offers a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1658 kbps but, being a documentary, the film has little in the way of separation. There is also a similar linear PCM stereo track at 1536 kbps. Narration and interviews are clean and audible without error. There is a smattering of original music by Ilan Isakov that sounds very pleasing in lossless. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Extras include a 20-minute interview with director Alison Klayman as she discusses reasons why she made the film - shot in HD. There is also a trailer.



Highly interesting stuff - especially as I knew very little about Ai Weiwei prior to my viewing.  The Artificial Eye Blu-ray provides a worthy presentation exposing some highly important information. Those keen on learning more about the artist and his struggles should consider indulging. 

Gary Tooze

October 7th, 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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