Studio: Warner Brothers
Film Length: 121 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
"War makes us into people
we didn't know we were"
It's so refreshing once in a while to have
the opportunity to watch a movie like Charlotte
Gray, a film that stands out amongst most of
the mediocre films arriving on DVD in the next
Cate Blanchett is Charlotte Gray, an intelligent
young Scottish woman trapped in wartime Europe
during the 1940's. We quickly learn that Charlotte
is fluent in French and has a fondness for France,
having studied in Paris for several years.
A chance meeting with a RAF pilot (Rupert Penry-Jones)
changes her life as she quickly falls in love with
the man only to find weeks later he was shot down
over France whilst fighting for his country.
Another chance meeting with a man from the British
Ministry (initially under the pretence of inviting
her to a book launch), results in Charlotte being
drafted for SOE-style operations under-cover in
France. This is her chance to use her knowledge of the
french culture and language to not only help the
French Resistance, but find the man she loves.
Once in France, her cover name becomes Dominique,
a woman from Paris with a POW husband. Julien
(Billy Crudup) is the leader of the resistance team
she is assigned to. Charlotte goes to the country to stay
with Julien's father, Levarde (Michael Gambon) taking
care of two Jewish boys that are in hiding. When
she learns that her fighter pilot boyfriend is dead,
she has nothing left but what is in France which
she decides to fight for, despite the Nazi's that
now occupy the small village she lives in.
Charlotte Gray is just a superb film to
watch for many reasons. Foremost, Cate Blanchard
is absolutely stunning to watch for her effortless
beauty and complexity that shows she is a great
actress. There is also the great period detail
captured by director Gillian Armstrong and
cinematographer Dion Beebe.
How is the transfer?
I think that I screen more Warner product than
any other studio, and anyone that has taken notice,
knows that there is a consistency of superb
transfers coming out of that studio on their new
release product. Charlotte Gray joins that
list of nearly flawless transfers.
Picture has a very warm and soft feeling to it,
rather than looking bold and sharp. While there
is the slightest hint of video noise in some
scenes, none of it becomes dominant in a picture
that remains mostly crisp and detailed, even in
the blue-filtered night scenes. Just a wonderful
transfer that does justice to the beautiful shots
of the pastoral French countrysides.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is effective, yet never
obtrusive. The rear speakers are used to emphasize
certain points of the film such as gunshots and
a train explosion. What I found surprising here was
the activity in the LFE channel that brought out
the strong rumble of German tanks rolling into the
French village, or the roaring sound of a squad
of Germans matching from the front to rear. A very
robust soundtrack for a movie that is not particularly
A few extras have managed to make their way
onto this DVD. It isn't much (aside from
commentary), with less than 8 minutes of added
First, there is a full-length audio commentary
by Director Gillian Armstrong.
A Village Revisits History looks at the
quest to find the perfect location to bring a
story to life. That location was St. Antonin
Noble Val, near Toulouseof. It was the perfect
location not only for the fact that it has remained
virtually untouched for the past 50 years, but
filmmakers also had access to the only period train
in France with its own private line that ran through
the town. The townsfolk were very patient with
the film crews who had taken over, even appearing
in one or two of the scenes. Many of the older
residents of the village were weeping when they
saw the recreation of German tanks entering their
town. This was something they had all seen before.
A very short, but interesting featurette.
(length: 3.5 minutes)
Living Through Wartime introduces us to
the book's author, Sebastian Faulk, who takes us
through the story of Charlotte Gray, aided
by film clips and interview with Cate Blanchett.
Director Gillian Armstrong thought the role was
the best she has ever read for a woman, and felt
that Blanchett was the perfect woman to fill that
part. Blanchett talks about what it means to be
an agent, dumped behind enemy lines, where there
are absolutely no rules.
(length: approx. 3.5 minutes)
The extras are rounded out with a Cast & Crew
Filmography as well as the Original
I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed
watching Charlotte Gray. Though it may
be considered another one of those strong-willed,
independent women placed in difficult situations
type of movies, this one seems to pull it off
Release Date: July 9, 2002