Discussion in 'DVD' started by DaViD Boulet, Jul 17, 2006.

  1. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

    Feb 24, 1999
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    Studio: MIRAMAX Year:2006 Rating:R Aspect Ratio: 16x9 encoded 1.85:1 Audio: 5.1 DD Original Language (Tsotsi-Taal) with optional English & Spanish Subtitles. SpecialFeatures: Feature Commentary, Deleted Scenes (including alternate endings), Making-of doc, Director’s Short filmReleaseDate: July 18, 2006


    Dark and macabre. At times repulsive. Often disturbing. Strangely intriguing. And ultimately beautiful. Tsotsi is a difficult and moving film about a young man’s journey into himself, his past, and his present. Tsotsi lives life as head of a small gang and through it seeks a kind of vengeance on the world. His uncomfortably emotionless reaction to the violence he wields reminds me vividly of Clockwork Orange. A series of chance encounters begin to prompt Tsotsi to stop taking his life for granted and to dare to look deeper into his heart, his hurts, and his motivations. Ultimately a story of redemption, Tsotsi strategically avoids the typical “happy ending” American audiences so often crave and in so doing paints a picture of growth worth engaging by the serious viewer.

    You must have a tolerance for violence (but need not enjoy viewing it) to watch this film. But Tsotsi is a movie born from the heart and so would appeal to any viewer interested in a worthwhile character film. If you enjoyed City of God or Do the Right Thing, I think Tsotsi is a film you will enjoy as well. I highly recommend this film on the merits of the film itself… Tsotsi is outstanding cinema.


    Very disappointing. I’ve seen 35mm trailers for this film projected theatrically and there was a whole dimension of picture detail and naturalness evident in the projected image that has been digitally filtered out of this DVD presentation. While I never expect a 720 x 480 resolution DVD to “equal 35 mm film” in absolute terms, DVDs viewed from a 1.6-1.75 screen width distance can often provide a satisfying facsimile… good enough that the film is able to pull you into the movie experience without being constantly reminded of the shortcomings of the Standard-definition encoding.

    Tsotsi, however, looks to me to have been (in typical Miramax form) high-frequency filtered with a bit too much edge-sharpening to “fix” the resulting soft image. The overall effect is an image that may look fine on smaller screens viewed from much narrower viewing-angles, but typical front projection systems or those of you watching your flatscreen or RP HD sets wide-angle will notice the unsatisfyingly soft image and digital signature that keeps the image from taking on the natural film-like-grace we always hope for.

    Color is spot-on in regards to the film source and has the same other-worldly golden glow I saw in the projected film prints.

    Black level is good and overall compression seems good though I did notice some instances of “banding” and digital noise in some dark backgrounds.

    Picture Quality: 3.5 / 5

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    Rating Rationale...

    Rating Key:

    SCORE Description 1-2 An absolute abomination. Hurts to watch even on a 32” 4x3 480I TV. Think Outland or Jean De Flourette (scan-line aliasing, chroma noise, dotcrawl, PAL-NTSC conversion artifacts etc.)-- truly horrid. 2-3 Has some serious problems, but one can at least watch it without getting a headache despite all the problems though you might try to talk your guests into picking a different movie to watch if you have a large projection screen. Think Kill Bill Vol 1. 3-4 Good or at least "acceptable" on a big-screen, but not winning any awards and definitely room for improvement if you view the image wide-angle (though smaller-screen viewers may be quite content). Think the first extended cut of Fellowship of the Ring...decent picture but still some HF filtering and some edge-halos. 4-5 A reference picture that really makes the most of the DVD medium and shows extraordinary transparency to the film-source elements limited only by DVD’s 720 x 480 resolution. Non-videophile observers can't help but remark "WOW" and ask you if they are watching HD. Think The Empire Strikes Back, the Fifth Element Superbit or the new Toy Story 10th Anniversary Edition.

    Viewing Equipment:
    Currently running DVDs on my OPPO DVD player (Faroudja deinterlacing) which scales to 720P, feeding my BenQ 8700+ PJ via DVI, projecting onto a 106” 16x9 Dalite HiPower screen, viewed from approximately 1.6 screen-widths distance. Well mastered DVDs produce a stunningly film-like image in this scenario, and lesser-mastered material quickly shows its flaws.


    The only audio option is the 5.1 original-language mix (not complaining) so there is no English option… but viewing this film with subtitles listening to the native track is the better option and the soundtrack is very much part of this film and conveys much nuance of emotion and acting on the part of the character performers. Much of the music in the film is from a South African music group and is presented nicely in the 5.1 mix. Fidelity of the mix is excellent (would have loved this in DTS) though my one complaint is that it sounded to me like the bass had been strangely rolled-off in the mastering studio with no deep bass present. This is especially noticeable in the musical tracks which one would expect to have a full-frequency response given the instrumentation… yet the soundtrack as conveyed on this DVD seems very bass-shy as if you were listing to very good sounding bookshelf speakers that rolled off their response below 80Hz. Listen and tell me what you think.

    Surround use is conservative though there were a few instances where the rear channel made itself heard. This mix may well serve the intentions of the director but it won’t be the disc you pull out to demo your HT system when your neighbor comes to visit.

    All in all a fine sounding soundtrack but the lack of bass response did leave me feeling something was missing.

    Sound Quality: 4 / 5

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    Listening Equipment:
    B&K AVR 212 processor/receiver driving my Onix-Rocket Loudspeaker system.

    Special Features...

    There is a reasonable amount of bonus material included here for a single-disc presentation.

    • Feature Commentary: [​IMG] Better than average. Director Gavin Hood goes into great detail about his thoughts behind each scene and all of the technical and pragmatic challenges faced by he, the actors, and the film crew during production. The audio commentary is a great compliment to this DVD and anyone who enjoys this director’s work or is moved by the film will probably find it worthwhile to listen.

      Deleted Scenes: [​IMG] There are some great deleted scenes (all presented in 4x3 encoded from video source) including 2 alternate versions of the ending of the film. All deleted scenes can be viewed with or without director’s commentary. If you bother with one special feature on this disc please check out the alternate endings.

      Making-Of Doc: Better than the usual making-of doc. I think that even casual fans will enjoy viewing this and seeing the behind-the-scenes of the South African town. It always amazes me how many “looks simple” scenes in the finished film actually took hours (sometimes days) to accomplish in the making.

      Film Short: [​IMG] This is an appropriate addition to this DVD that many fans will enjoy. Presented in 4x3 encoding from video source (exhibiting very poor picture quality) this original-language (with optional English subtitles) short was made by the director before the film Tsotsi and explores some similar themes refined more elaborately in the feature film.

      Music Video: There is a 4x3 encoded music video by the South African band featured so prominently in the soundtrack of the film. Why can’t they record these videos in 16x9 since they’re always letterboxed anyway?

    All Together...

    Tsotsi is a difficult, but ultimately rewarding film experience. If you can handle the moments of violence (which are tastefully portrayed in comparison to typical big-studio tradition) Tsotsi has a lot to offer. I highly recommend this film, though sadly the DVD offers sub-standard image quality to any viewer with a revealing display system. Audio presentation seems fine given the source though I do question the general lack of bass response. Bonus materials are plentiful given this single-disc presentation.

  2. Ravi K

    Ravi K Supporting Actor

    Feb 24, 2003
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    Sad to see Miramax still releasing these filtered DVDs. I'll still rent it, though. Thanks for the review, David.

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