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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Barbara [Blu-ray]


(Christian Petzold, 2012)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Schramm Film Koerner & Weber

Video: Kino Lorber



Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:45:10.512

Disc Size: 24,928,847,887 bytes

Feature Size: 24,679,759,872 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.62 Mbps

Chapters: 10

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: November 12th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-2 Video



Dolby Digital Audio German 256 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 256 kbps



• English (non-removable)



• None





Description: East Germany, 1980. Barbara Wolff is a young doctor who has applied for an exit visa from the GDR and, as punishment, has been transferred from her prestigious post in Berlin to a small pediatric hospital in the country. She must weigh her absolute dedication to her patients against a potential escape to the West, and her newfound attraction to a doctor in whom she sees a kindred spirit.



The Film:

A story of love and subterfuge in 1980 East Germany that never quite accelerates into an outright thriller, "Barbara" reps another assured collaboration between director Christian Petzold and his main muse, actress Nina Hoss. Credibly capturing the bleakness of life in the German Democratic Republic without indulging in miserablist excess, this wise and incisively crafted drama brings simmering intelligence and a dry, sardonic compassion to bear on its tale of two doctors slowly worming their way into each other's hearts and minds.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Christian Petzold (‘Yella’) won the Best Director prize at this year’s Berlin Film Festival for this subdued mystery about Barbara (Nina Hoss), a woman in 1980s rural East Germany who arrives from the city to work as a doctor, and lives a double life as a political operative. The film’s thriller tendencies are buried beneath a more low-key study of love and loyalties as Barbara is pulled between a chance to escape and her concern for her patients. This is coupled with the allure of a new friendship with André (Ronald Zehrfeld), a fellow doctor who also buries his secrets deeply. Petzold’s portrait of Germany in this period is subtle, and Hoss gives a discreet, thought-provoking performance.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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

Barbara does not seem to advance to the heights of Blu-ray in Kino Lorber new transfer. This is particularly disturbing as it is such a good film. It's possible that I may be blaming Kino-Lorber improperly as I'll assume they were given this D1 MPEG-2, Dolby transfer and had no option to produce the Blu-ray in a proper HD format. Now, it is single-layered but has a strong bitrate and looks 'okay'. But the SD-common MPEG-2 encode doesn't take advantage of the stellar visuals in the film to the same degree that AVC would have. It's not fatal, its just the image is more lifeless when it could have been significantly more impressive with a more robust and dynamic transfer. The Blu-ray is certainly watchable but a film of this caliber deserves more than a bare-bones SD-limited presentation, IMO.
















Audio :

As Kino Lorber underwhelm with their video encode - they audio too - is from SD - we get a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 channel in original German. The film has plenty of extended pauses but Stefan Will's score (he also composed for Petzold's Yella and Jerichow) would have been better supported with a lossless track. Not using the potential of the format (again).  There are non-removable subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer or even beyond one, lone, menu screen.



What a shame - but I do admit to liking this film - A LOT! I suppose we'll seek out a properly transferred Blu-ray - perhaps in Europe (THIS UK offering is pricey - same as THIS German edition that supposedly has English subtitles!). This is definitely a film worthy of the best possibilities of the new format. A shame Criterion didn't obtain this title in their catalogue... see this film from the frequently impressive Christian Petzold! 

Gary Tooze

November 5th, 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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