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Mostly filmed using natural light, this Oscar nominated film benefits greatly from the detail of this 1080p transfer. Andre Turpin’s cinematography could have come off dim and murky in a bad transfer or heaven forbid DVD, but this first rate job has keep its visual integrity. The color palette is natural and the black levels are solid. The natural lighting does dampen the crispness of the image, but that doesn’t mean details don’t pop.
The soundtrack is presented in French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The film is a dialogue driven film, but there are moments where war takes over the soundspace. Gunfire whizzes across the sound field. A burning bus rages in the back speakers. Street scenes bring an immersive quality to the scenes. For the most part, the elements are balanced nicely. The Radiohead song used seems to be overpowering at times though.
There are two superior specials features on the disc. Director Denis Villeneuve provides an honest commentary. He’s little too critical on himself, but he gives a good sense of who he is as a filmmaker and how he is developing. He provides details of the production process from casting to camera decisions. He also delves into how he loves CG for its time-saving and editing stage tweak qualities.
In place of typical making-of doc, “Remembering the Ashes: Incendies Through Their Eyes” talks with the extras and amateur actors about their first hand experiences with the cycle of violence in the Middle East. Many of the young refugees featured in the 45-minute doc are from Iraq. It’s a perfect supplement for the film and gives a real life equivalent to the film’s story of how violence begets violence. In the process, the doc also gets behind the scenes of Villeneuve’s set and how a French speaking director handled making a film that is also in Arabic.