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Melancholia Blu-Ray Review



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#1 of 13 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted March 23 2012 - 02:20 AM

http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/ Melancholia Blu-Ray

Magnolia Pictures

MPEG4-AVC 1080P

DTS-HD 5.1 Audio

136 Minutes

Presented in 2.35:1 AR





At the end of last year, when we named many of our best efforts in cinema for 2011, I had no problem putting von Trier's Melancholia in that elite group.   Very few films last year made me walk out of the theater and debate seriously what I had just seen. 

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On the most simple level, Melancholia is the story of the "end of the world" that could go along with so many other Science Fiction films - a wayward planet works it's way through the universe on a doomsday path with earth, destroying everything on the planets surface.   The first time I watched Melancholia, I went with a friend who debated with me seriously whether or not the end of the world that occurs within Melancholia is even 'real' or if it is the collapse of the world from the perspective of Dunst' character, Justine.  While I completely disagree with that sentiment, the fact that the film could be assessed that way is one of the things I admired about it.   This is a film that takes on the end of the world; and yet, there are no scenes of mass panics, tales from inside the government, action sequences that litter films.  Instead, this is a film that focuses on the lives of a small group of people who go through the phases of grief, and acceptance of the reality of their world.


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Years ago, a writer once told me the difference between Prose & Poetry is the way it uses imagery, not just in writing, but in the mind of the listener, to convey it's story.   Melancholia, in through it's use of cinematography and scene setting is far more Poetry as opposed to Prose; using profound images, segments and movement rather then exposition and events to invoke a feeling within the audience, to give you a look into the mind of people as the world literally ends.


The film opens with a gorgeous - and I mean gorgeous - short capture of the events to come; the rise of the planet on a collision course, the loss of the rules of nature, the emotional ties that ground people to their plane,t the collision, death.   It's an 8 minute setup before the exposition begins that clues us in as to what will happen and happen ahead of the characters in the film.


Justine, played by Kristen Dunst in one of the better performances of the year gives a remarkable performance as a woman who's depression and down view of the world nearly puts the kabosh on her over-the-top wedding affair.   It's simply not something she can get with, and this puts her at odds with those around her; but as the truth is known, as reality sets in through the course of the film, it is her acceptance of the dark outcome that puts her in a place that unlike her sister Claire, or those around her, she just has an easier time dealing with the horror of the loss ahead.


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This isn't a film for everyone, but if you're a fan of von Triers work, or just want to see Kristen Dunst deliver an amazing performance, including wall-paper worthy scenes, then this film is worth a look.   I say this not making an effort to come off like Mr. Skin, but that scene is one that had even my wife saying "it's like a classic painting in real life.."    The entire film has such moments, where painting, scenes, feelings grab the screen and convey far more then words can.


Image Quality: 5/5


Presented in MPEG4-AVC, Melancholia presents one of the best transfers I've seen on a blu-ray.  For a smaller budget film, that may not be what you expect, but this film is gorgeous, a silky smooth transfer that presents images that are just stunning; in fact, this has already vaulted near the top of my list for 2012, and it's going to be hard to unseat it.   The presentation of blacks is deep and rich; colors are vivid and detailed but it is the closeups, the lingering shots - and the use of stills as artwork that really kick Melancholia into it's own stratosphere for picture quality.


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Audio Quality: 4.5/5


When someone tells you: "It's an End of the World Movie!" you're thinking big explosions, lots of car horns, action sequences.. as I said above, Melancholia isn't that.   And while there aren't huge audio explosions, Melancholia delivers some impressive audio moments for a blu-ray.  Presented in DTS-HD 5.1, the dialog is solid and clear, and the focus of the presentation manages to bring the listener in.   But it's the soundtrack behind the film that really elevates the audio score.   Using Wagner's Tristan und Isolde as well as for the film arrangements manages to make very solid use of audio and soundtrack to set the tone for the film. 

People often overlook how much impact a good soundtrack can have on the mood and feeling of the film, but the use of the soundtrack here, from swelling moments to small asides in the background manages to help the audience get inside the mind of the characters and tell us a lot about the directors motivation.

Special Features:


About Melancholia - 1080P, 12:00 - I found this an interesting and different way to look at the film; the cast, director and a psychologist give us different views on Melancholia, not just the end of the world, but the state of depression, fatalism and the way we look at the world.


Special Effects - 1080P, 7:01 - Here, we get a look at how many of the special effects shots were done, including the way in which two celestial bodies were positioned in the outdoor scenes, and how the use of real imagery versus CGI inserts was a big part of the goal of the director and cinematographer, including the capture of shots of the Northern Lights.


The Visual Style - 1080P, 10:11 - Here, the director discusses the look of the film, the choice of colors, settings, and camera movements and shots.


The Universe - 1080P, 4:25 - A discussion with astrophysicist about the whether or not such an event could catch us by surprise, and how it would happen.


HDNet: A Look at Melancholia - 1080I, 5:05, This contains a lot of snippets and interviews a typical TV promo.

Also included are several trailers, including a Magnolia films "coming soon/also on magnolia" reel, which is quite long.


Conclusion:


Films like Melancholia will be loved or hated by a viewer.   Either it's far too "artsy" or it's an amazing work of craft.   If you've seen the film, you probably have your mind made up, and if you're wondering how well the blu-ray transfer is, all I can leave you with is this: it's better then I had any expectations of it being.


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#2 of 13 OFFLINE   Russell G

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Posted March 23 2012 - 05:53 AM

Nice review.  I missed this in  the theaters and was wondering if Criterion would be tackling it like they did Anti-Christ. I'll have to grab this release, it sounds solid enough.



#3 of 13 OFFLINE   owen35

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Posted March 24 2012 - 10:20 AM

I also thought this was a great transfer, but I did catch a lot of banding on the shots of the Melancholia planet when shown against the star-lit sky. Did anyone else notice that or was it just my monitor?
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#4 of 13 OFFLINE   mattCR

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Posted March 24 2012 - 11:07 AM



Originally Posted by owen35 

I also thought this was a great transfer, but I did catch a lot of banding on the shots of the Melancholia planet when shown against the star-lit sky. Did anyone else notice that or was it just my monitor?



Hmm..  I'd have to go back and look.. there are moments where the artistic impact is bright changes, but I but I don't know if I picked up much banding.. Do you have specific scenes?


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#5 of 13 OFFLINE   Doug Otte

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Posted March 26 2012 - 07:06 AM

I also thought this was a great transfer, but I did catch a lot of banding on the shots of the Melancholia planet when shown against the star-lit sky. Did anyone else notice that or was it just my monitor?

I saw a lot of it, but I see it a lot on my Panasonic plasma (TH-42PX600U) anyway. This model has problems w/ banding. What display are you using? I guess the PQ here was as good as we could expect, considering the source. It was obviously a DV production, and it shows in the poor black levels in some scenes as well as the motion artifacts in the (few) scenes having rapid motion. Although I got tired of hearing the Wagner piece repeated so much throughout the film, the SQ was gorgeous. Doug

#6 of 13 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted March 26 2012 - 03:17 PM

I probably won't buy this because I don't know if I can watch it again. That is a compliment as I thought the movie was brilliant and beautiful and too difficult for me to watch again. I'll try to find my review of the movie.
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#7 of 13 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted March 26 2012 - 03:25 PM

Ok here's what I wrote last November. I watched it from HDNET Movie channel. Just watched this the other night and  i'm still trying to wrap my head around it. whatever is going in in Von Trier's mind must be a nightmare to live with. This movie is all about depression and how it takes over ones entire world before completely destroying it. The prologue is a brilliant short film just on its own and basically encapsulates the entire movie in about 6 minutes.  Dunst was nude in a couple of shots but it isn't anything that is a reason to see the movie. There was nothing sexy or romantic about the scenes even a little bit. It felt to me to be metaphor for depression and how the only way to find relief is for everything to come to an end and in this movie the "everything" is taken to the furthest extreme possible.  On the other hand when someone dies, doesn't that mean the end of the world for that person, once you're gone there is no world anymore, it's all gone. Maybe that was von Trier's point I saw Tree Of Life only a few weeks ago and I can barely remember much more than a handful of scenes. This movie is stuck on my mind and the end and most of the movie will take some time to fade, especially the last shots of the movie. To me is the exact opposite to Tree Of Life. Amazing, depressing and frightening. Don't know if I can ever watch it again. That's a compliment.  4.5 stars
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#8 of 13 OFFLINE   Doug Otte

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Posted March 27 2012 - 01:20 AM

Nice analysis, Troy. I don't know if I can watch it again, either - due to both the subject matter and the annoying shakycam. To me, there are two possible interpretations: 1) Like your interpretation, the "planet" Melancholia is just an metaphor for Justine's condition. The other characters' (especially Claire and John) reaction to the planet exemplify their attitude toward her condition. John thinks it's not a real threat (e.g. not a permanent condition, or at least, nothing that affects him) until he finally realizes how real it is, and can't deal with that realization. Claire sacrifices her own life and happiness to help her sister, but once she is personally affected, she falls apart and begins acting hysterically. 2) If the planet is real, then Justine's reaction to it shows how her condition gives her strength and a resolve that the "healthy" characters lack. She's unable to deal with normal human events, and her wedding causes her to lapse into a catatonic depression. But, when this literally earth-shattering ending is at hand, the normal characters fall apart, but Claire's depression is so deeply a part of her personality that she's able to face the end with strength and dignity. Doug

#9 of 13 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted March 27 2012 - 04:29 AM

Thanks Don. I can't disagree with your thoughts either.
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#10 of 13 OFFLINE   Vincent_P

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Posted March 27 2012 - 03:58 PM

I disagree with the conclusion that this film will be either loved or hated by viewers. My own reaction was, "Meh..." I didn't hate it, but didn't think much of it either, and I love Von Trier's BREAKING THE WAVES and DANCER IN THE DARK. Also, re: Tony D's comments, I don't understand what THE TREE OF LIFE has to do with this film. Vincent

#11 of 13 OFFLINE   mikeyhitchfan

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Posted March 29 2012 - 03:53 AM

I liked the first 20 minutes and the last half of this film very much, but found the early scenes got boring and repetitive.

#12 of 13 OFFLINE   owen35

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Posted May 01 2012 - 09:28 AM

  Hmm..  I'd have to go back and look.. there are moments where the artistic impact is bright changes, but I but I don't know if I picked up much banding.. Do you have specific scenes?

I haven't had a chance to watch the film again, but I did found this paragraph from a review on another site. I just loaded the disc and checked it again and I did notice it. "Only a few minor blemishes mar a perfect presentation. There's a touch of banding around the approaching planet as Justene lays naked under it, like she's waiting to give herself to a lover."
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#13 of 13 OFFLINE   AL KUENSTER

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Posted May 02 2012 - 07:33 AM

My wife and I watched this a couple of weeks ago and both of us thought the film did not work for us. We did not care about any of the characters. The video was very good. I probably enjoyed the beginning more than anything else.. I did like Breaking the Waves which I have on dvd.
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