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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Fill the Void aka "Lemale et ha'halal" [Blu-ray]


(Rama Burshtein, 2012)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Norma Productions

Video: Artificial Eye



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

Runtime: 1:30:37.041

Disc Size: 28,447,393,947 bytes

Feature Size: 23,577,987,072 bytess

Video Bitrate: 27.58 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 14th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 24 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio Hebrew 1798 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1798 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio Hebrew 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit



English (SDH), none



Audio commentary with director Rama Burshstein and Hadas Yuron
Q + A with Rama Burshstein and Hadas Yuron (17:02)
Theatrical Trailer (1:41)




Description: A devout 18-year-old Israeli is pressured to marry the husband of her late sister. Declaring her independence is not an option in Tel Aviv's ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community, where religious law, tradition and the rabbi's word are absolute.



The Film:

A family crisis puts a young woman in a difficult position in this drama from Israeli filmmaker Rama Burshtein. Esther (Renana Raz) is the daughter of an Orthodox Rabbi who follows her father's faith, and she and her husband Yochay (Yiftach Klein) are happy to soon be welcoming their first child into the world. Joy turns to sorrow when Esther dies in childbirth; Yochay is devastated, and despite their own heartache, her mother Rivka (Irit Sheleg) and younger sister Shira (Hadas Yaron) step forward to help the widower look after his newborn son. Esther's father Rabbi Aharon (Chaim Sharir) counsels Yochay that it would be best for him and his young son if he remarried as soon as he feels capable, but finding a fit mother is no simple task. Rivka comes up with what she feels is a perfect solution -- an arranged marriage between Yochay and Shira, who has already grown fond of the baby. Yochay isn't sure he's comfortable with wedding his sister-in-law, and Shira feels no better about it, preferring to save herself for a virgin like herself, but the demands of her family may weigh more strongly than her own desires. Lemale et ha'chalal (aka Fill the Void) received its American premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

The film offers a fascinating glimpse into an unfamiliar culture that's not often explored on screen. Consequently, it comes as something of a surprise to find that the film does not take a position against arranged marriage, instead presenting it unchallenged, as a positive thing (although the brilliant final shot introduces a thought-provoking note of ambiguity). Accordingly, in the press notes for the film, Burshtein cites Jane Austen as a major influence and it's easy to see the similarities between the two worlds.

In addition, the film is not without moments of humour (the opening scene in the supermarket, with Rivka and Shira spying on her intended fiancÚ is a particular highlight) and Burshtein orchestrates a number of memorable scenes and moments that will stay with you, such as Shira forgetting herself while playing her accordion in front of a roomful of children.

Excerpt from ViewLondon located HERE

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

Fill the Void gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Artificial Eye. Asaf Sudry's cinematography and the style moving between out of focus and desaturated visuals seems meticulously arrived at. It sates on Wikipedia that 'While a "documentary feel" was retained throughout most the film's duration, the style was switched for the wedding scene to create a euphoric atmosphere similar to those used in productions by Terrence Malick and David Lynch.' It sneaks into dual-layered territory and has a supportive bitrate for the 1.5 hour feature. The 1080P supports the rich contrast exhibiting healthy 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. I loved the unique style. This Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the theatrical version of the film Fill the Void. I thoroughly enjoyed the adept video rendering of the film.

















Audio :

Audio is offered in the option of a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at 1798 kbps or a simpler stereo linear PCM 2.0 channel at 1536 kbps both in original Hebrew. The film doesn't have much separations and both lossless tracks seem more than capable at dishing out the depth - notably in Im Eshkachech Yerushalayim and the melodic and traditional score by Yitzhak Azulay which sounds quite wonderful. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

Extras include an audio commentary with director Rama Burshstein and Hadas Yuron (Shira in the film). It is quite good with plenty to discuss and it seems appropriate to add the, less formal, 17-minute Q + A with with both of them to cover further details and respond to queries. There is also a theatrical trailer.



'Glimpse into an unfamiliar culture' is an understatement, IMO. I was surprised by Fill the Void. Despite my astonishment and education at some of, what I perceive as, the bizarre rituals pursued via the Haredi Jewish community in Tel Aviv, this is a film filled with positives. It has an impressive script, is well acted and beautifully shot. Burshtein became the first Orthodox Jewish woman to direct a film intended for wide distribution. The Artificial Eye Blu-ray provides a strong a/v presentation and valuable commentary. This film is quite a triumph and very easy to recommend. I hope you will be as impressed as I was. Excellent film experience!  

Gary Tooze

April 2nd, 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.

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Gary W. Tooze






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