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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Elena aka Éléna [Blu-ray]

 

(Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2011)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Non-Stop Productions

Video: New Wave Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:49:10.916

Disc Size: 24,075,492,681 bytes

Feature Size: 19,455,535,104 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.99 Mbps

Chapters: 18

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 11th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Russian 1687 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1687 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio Russian 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

English, none

 

Extras:

• Interview with Andrey Zvyagintsev (32:43 in 1080i)

Trailer (1:42)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Elena and Vladimir come from very different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy, cold man, while Elena comes from a modest background, serving as his docile wife. The two of them have met late in life, each with a child from a previous marriage.

Vladimir has a distant relationship with his daughter. In contrast, Elena desperately tries to save her alcoholic son and his family from poverty with means she alone could not provide. When her husband Vladimir has a heart attack, he suddenly realizes his time on earth is limited. A tender but brief reunion with his daughter leads him to name her as the sole heir to his fortune. When Vladimir announces this change to Elena, her hope to help her son quickly vanishes. Submissive housewife Elena then comes up with a plan to provide her son and his family with a real change in life.

 

 

The Film:

A woman turns to devious means to support her family in this drama from Russian filmmaker Andrei Zvyagintsev. Middle-aged Elena (Nadezhda Markina) first met her husband Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov) when she took a job looking after him following a serious illness. The two bonded and fell in love, but wealthy Vladimir is significantly older than working-class Elena, and their relationship is still centered upon her caring for his needs. Elena has an adult son from a previous marriage, Sergei (Alexey Rozin); he's a hard-drinking slacker who can't hold a job, and Vladimir doesn't care for him, but even though Elena doesn't approve of his lifestyle she feels obligated to help support him and his young son. Vladimir has a daughter, Katerina (Elena Lyadova), who hasn't spoken with him in years, and when he has a heart attack, Elena reaches out to her in hopes they can reconcile before his health fails him. Vladimir and Katerina resolve their differences, but there's an unexpected consequence -- Vladimir announces that he's going to leave his fortune to his prodigal daughter, and Elena must find a way to set aside some of the money to support Sergei and his family without Vladimir knowing about it. Elena received a special jury award at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, where it was screened as part of the Un Certain Regard program .

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The corrupting power of money runs through the veins of this superb Russian film like formaldehyde flowing through a corpse. The story has an eerie, powerful simplicity: a well-meaning former nurse from a modest background, Elena (Nadezhda Markina), lives with her wealthy husband, Vladimir (Andrey Smirnov), in a luxury, modern home. Her penniless son from her first marriage, Sergei (Aleksey Rozin), wants money for his son’s schooling, but Vladimir is uninterested: he controls their finances with a calm, iron will. His own virtually estranged and difficult daughter, Katerina (Elena Lyadova), from his earlier marriage is a drain on his emotions already. When Vladimir falls ill, and questions of inheritance arise, Elena must act to secure her future.

This is a bleak, mysterious tale, resolutely local and contained in its surface interests. But you can’t help wondering what director Andrey Zvyagintsev (this is his third film after 2003’s stunning ‘The Return’ and 2007’s less satisfying ‘The Banishment’) might be saying about the state of Russia and, specifically, the transition from the Soviet era. The parallels are tempting: an unhappy but controlled situation turns to anarchy; plans for the future are too late and hijacked for personal gain; and, by the film’s final frame, the devil we once knew somehow inspires nostalgia. This is smart, gripping cinema.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

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

Elena gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from New Wave Films.  It max'es out single-layered status with a modest bitrate for the 1 hour 50-minute feature. Colors are brighter and truer than SD could relate but it approaches a waxier appearance without definitively achieving it. Teal can be heavier at times. The 1080P supports solid contrast exhibiting healthy, rich black levels and some minor depth in the 2.35:1 frame.  It's pristinely clean showcasing some hi-def detail and there are really no flaws with the rendering. This Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the theatrical version of the film, Elena. It seems devoid of digital noise or other imperfections.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Elena may be notable for its long shots and silent pauses - the New Wave Blu-ray of Elena offers a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 1687 kbps or a simpler liner PCM stereo track - both in original Russian. It has hints of separation but everything is of a subtle nature with only a couple of minor aggressive instances notable in the lossless. Nothing but positives here for the audio transfer which seems to accurately reflect the original production without egregious error. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Supplements include a, very informative, 1/2 hour interview with director Andrey Zvyagintsev where features of the film and production are discussed in relative detail. There is also a trailer.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Magnificent and multi-layered film. Elena will be regarded. justly, as a masterpiece.  The New Wave Films Blu-ray provides and excellent a/v presentation with very appreciated interview with the director. This is easy to put in the 'don't hesitate' category for world cinema digital librarians everywhere. 

Gary Tooze

February 9th, 2013


 

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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