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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Top of the Lake [Blu-ray]


Writers: Jane Campion (creator), Gerard Lee (creator), 2012



Also available in a 'Collection' pack with Top of the Lake: China Girl Blu-ray from 2entertain:


Review by Gary Tooze



Broadcast: BBC Worldwide

Video: 2entertain



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

Runtime: 57:59 X 6 episodes (3 per disc)

Disc One Size: 43,065,757,707 bytes

Disc Two Size: 46,210,954,027 bytes

Average Episode Size: 14,389,426,176 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.99 Mbps

Chapters: 17 + 17

Case: Thick (UK) Blu-ray case

Release date: August 19th, 2013



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080i / 25 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1745 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1745 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)



English (SDH), none



From the Bottom of the Lake (51:29)
Behind the Scenes (5:13)
Elisabeth Moss Story (1:53)
Holly Hunter Story (2:25)





Description: A 12 year old girl, walks chest deep into the freezing waters of a South Island lake in New Zealand. She is five months pregnant and won’t say who the father is. Then she disappears. Robin Griffin is a gutsy but inexperienced detective called in to investigate. But as Robin becomes more and more obsessed with the search for Tui, she slowly begins to realise that finding Tui is tantamount to finding herself - a self she has kept well hidden. Available in beautiful high definition and set against one of the most amazing and untouched landscapes left on the planet, Top of the Lake is a powerful and haunting story about our search for happiness where the dream of paradise attracts it dark twin, the fall. Starring: Elizabeth Moss, Holy Hunter and Peter Mullan Written and Directed by Jane Campion.



The Film:

As much as the series is Campion's tour of the land of the repressed, she's also crafted a riveting and engrossing faux-whodunit, an epic, gnarled expressionistic mural that makes stunning use of a uniformly excellent cast and repeated, evocative images of horses, dogs, bones, elk's heads, etc. Like David Fincher's ferocious House of Cards, Top of the Lake is a supremely fascinating reversal of genre, as it ends up that Tui is in need of less help then Robin realizes, and even the "good" men of the story have secrets that reveal them to be predators or, at best, noble cowards.

If various forms of control (even from beyond the grave) form the Top of the Lake's narrative backbone, it's ultimately a question of responsibility that drives the series. This serves the story exquisitely, as both the identity of who's responsible for Tui's pregnancy and her disappearance are of primary concern, at least on the surface. Campion delves deeper, however, to consider how behavior, particularly in women, is informed by family dynamics, community values, and personal events. GJ is a brutally logical thinker, but she's in consistent praise of the body's intelligence, its ability to lead her into clarity even as her brain holds her back. Top of the Lake echoes GJ's unwavering belief in the body to profound effect, as despite the formidable technical mastery applied and the demanding sprawl of the multifaceted narrative, Campion's series has the unmistakable timbre of daring art made naturally. 

Excerpt from Slant Magazine located HERE

Jane Campion's television miniseries Top of the Lake (which played at Sundance and has aired in Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK), co-created with Gerard Lee, is a dark mystery, one which uses the landscape of New Zealand to explore those hidden secrets that come flooding out with just a scratch upon the earth and skin. It's the kind of work that keeps punching you in the emotional gut while at the same time giving you strange dreams of metaphysical bliss. There are shades of her previous work, with the intrusion of pseudo-deities, myth and ritual, and gender clash and violence.

Set in New Zealand's south island and starring Elizabeth Moss, Holly Hunter, Peter Mullan and David Wenham, it's ostensibly a crime thriller about a missing girl. Tui is the daughter of Matt Mitcham (Mullan), local drug king; she's 12 years old and pregnant, though she won't say by whom. Robin (Moss) is a former local, returned from her new home in Sydney to be with her dying mother. As a police officer specializing in crimes involving children, she's called in to try and find out who the culprit is. Meanwhile, a group of women, headed by GJ (Hunter), have set up a kind of spiritual retreat next to the local lake. By the end of the first episode, Tui has gone missing, and each episode reveals more about why Robin had to leave, the demons she faces in her return, and the secrets the town keeps coming roaring to the surface.

Excerpt from Twith located HERE

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

Firstly, I believe Top of the Lake may have been broadcast as 7 X 50-minute episodes but this 2entertain Blu-ray is 6 X 58-minute episodes - both adding to about 350-minutes. I don't think anything has been cut. This package is actually 2 dual-layered Blu-rays (50i) with 3 episodes on each. The interlacing is probably how the series was broadcast and doesn't negatively impact the presentation although it probably means that it is in PAL timing. The bitrate is low-ish but the quality has impressive moments. Close-ups show solid detail and the frequent use of the scenery looks bright and majestic, showing depth, in the 1.78:1 frame.  It's pristinely clean showcasing with adept contrast. This Blu-ray probably looks exactly how is appeared when broadcast in March of 2013. It doesn't have any flaws that I could decipher.
























Audio :

The audio comes in the form of a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1745 kbps. So no surround but effects of the series seem to come through with acceptable depth. The score is by Mark Bradshaw (also the composer for Campion's Bright Star) and the haunting solo piano theme music sounds beautiful via the lossless. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide (NOTE: I can only verify that for the UK edition).


Extras :

All the supplements are on the second Blu-ray. We get From the Bottom of the Lake - a 52-minute documentary by Clare Young (director assistant on the first episode) as a kind of video description of Campion's work methods. It's quite interesting. There is also a Behind the Scenes piece for 5-minutes with co-creator Gerard Lee plus short, separate, pieces with stars Elisabeth Moss and Holly Hunter.



As I progressed through this 6-hour series - my appreciation consistently grew. Perhaps a shade hard to embrace initially but Top of the Lake is an utterly fantastic TV series. The 2entertain Blu-ray provides a reasonably strong a/v presentation with a few appreciated supplements. This is very easy to endorse (let's hope a 'Season 2' is in the works). We give it one of our strongest recommendations! I wish I could see this rousing human drama and mystery thriller all over again from the very beginning. Immense value here - buy now!


NOTE: The disc is packaged (Blu-ray 1 on the right and Blu-ray 2 on the left) in such a way as you may accidentally start with disc 2 if you don't look closely.

Gary Tooze

June 23rd, 2014


Also available in a 'Collection' pack with Top of the Lake: China Girl Blu-ray from 2entertain:


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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