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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Generation War aka "Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter" [2 Blu-ray discs]

 

(Philipp Kadelbach, 2013)

 

 

Available in the UK and Germany on Blu-ray:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: teamWorx Produktion für Kino und Fernsehen GmbH

Video: Music Box Films

 

Disc:

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

Disc One Size: 43,680,149,978 bytes

Disc Two Size: 27,028,920,826 bytes

Part One Runtime: 1:34:27.536

Part Two Runtime: 1:29:59.811

Part Three Runtime: 1:36:19.148

Part One Feature Size: 21,915,463,680 bytes

Part Two Feature Size: 20,861,147,136 bytes

Part Three Feature Size: 22,266,697,728 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.90 Mbps

Chapters: 8 X 3

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 5th, 2014

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio German 2408 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2408 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras: (Disc 1)

Part 2 Recap (2:17)

 

Extras: (Disc 2)
Master Class Panel (20:01)

Theatrical Trailer (2:21)

International Trailer (3:25)

• More from Music Box

 

Bitrates:

 

 

 

 

Description: Valor, courage, and betrayal come to the fore in this remarkable epic that shows the everyday realities of wartime life from a deeply personal perspective. Billed as a German Band of Brothers, GENERATION WAR vividly depicts the lives of five young German friends forced to navigate the unconscionable moral compromises of life under Hitler. In Berlin in 1941, on the eve of Hitler s invasion of the Soviet Union, level-headed officer Wilhelm (Volker Bruch) is full of patriotic fervor as he heads for the eastern front with his sensitive younger brother Friedhelm (Tom Schilling). Charlotte (Miriam Stein) is a young nurse in love with Wilhelm who is serving in the Red Cross. Greta (Katherina Schüttler) is an ambitious singer who longs to become another Marlene Dietrich, while her boyfriend Viktor (Ludwig Trepte) faces a daily struggle for survival as a Jew in an increasingly oppressive regime. These five exceptional young actors infuse their characters with the certainty of youth, which drains away with each successive month of war as the true horrors of the Third Reich are slowly revealed. At nearly every moment, they are faced with choices between complicity and rebellion, self-preservation and self-sacrifice, blood on their hands and love in their hearts. Eight years in the making and filmed on over 150 sets across Germany, Lithuania and Latvia, GENERATION WAR insightfully reveals a country still grappling with how previous generations could have become so tragically misdirected. In Germany, the film has sparked a passionate discussion about personal responsibility and the legacy of guilt for Nazi atrocities. German critics have widely praised the film, with Der Spiegel calling GENERATION WAR a "turning point in German television" and national newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung describing it as "the first and last chance... to ask our grandparents about their true biographies, their immoral compromises...the missed chances to act.

 

 

The Series:

 

Mr. Kadelbach, the director, has clearly studied the work of Steven Spielberg. He crosscuts deftly between scenes, alternating moments of tense violence with stretches of solitude and tenderness. Battles are staged with “Saving Private Ryan”-like intensity and precision, and the whole narrative — shifting from the mud and ice of Russia in winter to the wheat fields of Ukraine, the forests of Poland and the streets of the German capital — has a sweep and a vigor that recall “Gone With the Wind” and other old Hollywood costume epics.

The characters are sharply drawn (by a lively and uniformly excellent cast), their contrasting temperaments providing a pleasing, if not terribly challenging, sense of human variety. Greta is high-strung and passionate. Viktor is wary, excitable and perpetually unshaven. Friedhelm is timid and bookish, a mama’s boy whose stiff-necked father favors the manly and decisive Wilhelm. He and Charly, fair-haired and upright, are like Nazi propaganda posters brought to life and softened up for modern, liberal audiences. They exude a quiet pride in their own virtue. 

Excerpt from A. O. Scott at the NY Times located HERE

Small acts of courage, mercy and self-sacrifice bob now and then to the surface. But Generation War holds the line admirably in showing how totalitarianism corrupts almost everything in its path, individual responsibility included, and creates an appalling space where sadists and conformists alike can flourish and break every rule of war at will.

In this regard, communism fares only a little better than fascism in Generation War — which is why this bracing movie ought to be required viewing not just in Germany, where it was seen and hotly debated by more than 7 million viewers, but wherever absolutism holds sway.

Excerpt from NPR located HERE

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

Firstly, this is a gorgeously shot series by cinematographer David Slama and looks fabulous on Blu-ray from Music Box Films. The package features 2 dual-layered Blu-ray discs - the first containing parts 1 + 2, and the second containing the 3rd part and some extras.  The total time is over 4 1/2-hours for the complete mini-series. Quality is consistent for all three parts with a similarly strong bitrate. Everything looks flawless in 1080P supporting a rich, saturated style with deep black levels. The series includes stock, and stock-like, black and white cinematography and looks quite different from the rest. The image is, as you might expect, pristinely clean. Colors are true without embellishment. The art-direction is meticulous. Contrast exhibits healthy black levels and some minor depth in the 1.78:1, broadcast, frame.  It showcases impressive detail in close-ups and I see no noise or digital manipulations. This Blu-ray probably looks like exactly the TV presentation. It seems devoid of imperfections of any kind and can, frequently, look amazing.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio comes via a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround at 2408 kbps in original German. There are plenty of the sounds of war from extensive gunfire to explosions and more. The aggression can be intense and the lossless track handles it exporting an effective punch with impressive depth. The score is by Fabian Römer, a composer who has done a lot of TV work in Germany. It stays fairly subtle in the background supporting the film and sounding clean and crisp. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified both discs as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

Supplements include a 2-minute Recap prior to part 2 on the first Blu-ray. On disc 2, there is a 20-minute Master Class Panel with the filmmakers answering question (in German with English subtitles.) There are also some trailers - a theatrical, an 'international' one and some from other Music Box Films offerings.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I found my appeal for Generation War meandering a bit as the series progressed. The 'soapy' aspects seemed out-of-touch at times but the overall impact was very strong. Of course, as the series progresses you also your bond cements further with the 5 major characters. A lot of effort went into this mini-series and it shows. Yes, it has some similarities to US-developed 'war series' but I think it makes enough distinction to be recognized on its own merits. The Blu-ray package provides an excellent a/v presentation. For those keen on war dramas, I would consider this a 'don't hesitate'. This offers a lot of value. It is quite exceptionally written and we give a strong recommendation! 

Gary Tooze

May 5th, 2014

 

Available in the UK and Germany on Blu-ray:


 

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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