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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Wadjda [Blu-ray]

 

(Haifaa al-Mansour, 2012)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Razor Film

Video: Sony Pictures

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:37:13.828

Disc Size: 39,193,198,527 bytes

Feature Size: 26,449,975,296 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.94 Mbps

Chapters: 16

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 11th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio Arabic 3184 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3184 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUB: DTS-HD Master Audio French 2780 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2780 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English, English (SDH), French, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by writer/director Al Haiffa Mansour

• The Making of Wadjda (33:35)

Director's Guild of America (38:20)

• Trailer (2:04)

DVD of the film included

 

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Wadjda is a 10-year-old girl living in a suburb of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. Although she lives in a conservative world, Wadjda is fun loving, entrepreneurial and always pushing the boundaries of what she can get away with.

Wadjda sees a beautiful green bicycle for sale that she wants desperately so she can race her friend, Abdullah. But Wadjda’s mother won’t allow it, fearing repercussions from a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl’s virtue. So Wadjda decides to try and raise the money herself. At first, Wadjda’s mother is too preoccupied with convincing her husband not to take a second wife to realize what’s going on. And soon enough Wadjda’s plans are thwarted when she is caught running various schemes at school.

Just as she is losing hope of raising enough money, she hears of a cash prize for a Koran recitation competition at her school. She devotes herself to the memorization and recitation of Koranic verses, and her teachers begin to see Wadjda as a model pious girl. The competition isn‘t going to be easy, especially for a troublemaker like Wadjda, but she refuses to give in. She is determined to continue fighting for her dreams...

 

 

The Film:

Writer/director Haifaa al-Mansour makes her feature directorial debut with this film about a headstrong 10-year-old girl named Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) who's determined to challenge a neighborhood boy to a bike race despite the potentially dire repercussions. When Wadjda's mother refuses to purchase her a bike, the young girl defiantly enters a Koran reading competition to earn the money she needs to buy it herself. Once Wadjda has her bike, the only thing left to do is prove to her young friend Abdullah that girls can race bikes just as well as boys. But not everyone is willing to accept a young girl who refuses to play by society's rules, and now the closer Wadjda gets to achieving her goal, the deeper her understanding of the division between the sexes grows.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

 

Wadjda” is circumspect about putting forth any overt criticisms of mosque or state. Instead, the movie presents the facts of its heroine’s life — and also, more obliquely, the lives of her mother, classmates and teachers — with calm authority and devastating effectiveness.

Wadjda’s mother (Reem Abdullah) has a job, but she can’t control the money she earns or drive herself to work. And she worries that since she has not borne him a son, her husband will take a second wife. Wadjda, who adores her father, is dismayed to discover that his branch of the family tree is devoid of leaves because only boys are counted in that way.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

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

Wadjda, shot in HD, looks solid on Blu-ray from Sony.  The image quality supports the heavy earthy-brown and dusty pallet of the location - shot exclusively in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Detail is tight and the contrast is layered enough inside the 1.78:1 frame. It has the similar attributes of this format.  This is dual-layered with a decent bitrate. Certainly the few colors are bolder (dress in the store) and most visual attributes above SD-capability including some desirable depth - and no noise. There are no flaws - the video is clean and produces, what appears to be, an authentic visual representation of the theatrical film.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio track is strong - a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a healthy 3184 kbps in original Arabic. Effects are minimal but depth is noted and the music is by Max Richter (Waltz With Bashir) supports the film with gently grace. The track is rarely tested by the film's sound stage. There is an optional French DUB. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A' Blu-ray disc.

 

Extras :

Extras include a revealing commentary by writer/director Al Haiffa Mansour. Topics broached are her role as the first female Saudi filmmaker and the fact that there are no movie theaters in Saudi Arabia. Production details are covered as well as the lengthy time to get funding. She seems young (to me), frank and informative. We also get a 1/2 featurette; The Making of Wadjda which shows many behind-the-scenes footage. Also included is the Director's Guild of America Q+A piece with Al Haiffa Mansour running almost 40-minutes. Lastly, there is a trailer.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I liked this film a lot but while I heard references to the Dardenne's Rosetta - I suspect it was only an inspiration for Al-Mansour's screenplay. Although the film does have verité leanings. I was more reminded of Kiarostami's Where is the Friend's Home?. Waddja is important world cinema and the story is wonderfully told - simple and beautiful with a compelling elegance.  The Sony Blu-ray produces a fine presentation - worthy of an rewarding, and inspirational, night in the Home Theater and there are worthwhile extras.  Recommended!

Gary Tooze

February 4th, 2014

 

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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