The Swell Season (2011)

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Released 27-Jun-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 84:36
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nick August-Perna
Chris Dapkins
Carlo Mirabella-Davis
Icon Entertainment Starring Catherine Hansard
Glen Hansard
Markéta Irglová
Case ?
RPI ? Music Glen Hansard
Markéta Irglová

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Dutch for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     The Swell Season is a black and white documentary film following the band of the same name as they tour, hang out, drink and argue. The band The Swell Season was formed around the combination of Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. If you don't recognize any of those names then chances are you weren't swept up in the minor phenomenon of the film Once.

     For the uninitiated, the film was the story of a down on his luck Irish singer/guitarist who gets inspiration to record an album when he meets Czech pianist and singer Irglova. The bittersweet tale, peppered with great songs, was a genuine and heartfelt love story. The emotional effect of the story was aided when it was revealed that Hansard and Irglova had become a couple, life imitating art. Months onwards and the song Falling Slowly from the film won the Best Song Oscar and suddenly the pair are on stage before the world daring us to live our dreams.

     This pressure to perform not only as a band but also as a pair of star-crossed lovers is a recurrent theme in this fly-on-the-wall film. Hansard enjoyed the enormous success and adulation he dreamed of and yet Irglova is unhappy with the attention. Not for her the photo ops and intense public scrutiny. She just wants the life of a performer.

     This is really a film for the fans. Having enjoyed the film Once though not being a massive fan of The Swell Season I found the film engaging and at times revealing as to the life "on the road". The music is heartfelt and emotional, often pointing at ideas which come to prominence in their relationship. The interludes with friends and family, some painful, make it that much more real. A scene in a cafe towards the end takes the film on an inexorable, darker path.

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Transfer Quality


     The Swell Season was shot on digital video. According to the director 35mm lenses were adapted onto the video camera to give it a filmic look. It is presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio which is consistent with the original presentation.

     The film is presented in black and white. An artistic choice which immediately (perhaps unfortunately) brings to mind U2's Rattle and Hum. However, in this case taking away the colour intensifies the drama, in particular the scenes of relationship turmoil.

     The film looks fine. There is a digital sharpness to it all. No noise or other defects are present.

     There are subtitles in English. There are also some subtitles burned into the print for scenes where the dialogue is difficult to understand.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     The Swell Season has a Dolby Digital 5.1 track running at 448 Kb/s.

     This is fine for the film which combines segments of concert performance with backstage and exterior dialogue. The dialogue is mostly clear bearing in mind the wealth of accents on offer and the "overheard" nature of the film. The concerts sound immediate and crisp.

     There is nothing for the surrounds or sub-woofer to do except provide support for the music, giving it greater depth.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.


     The Region 1 version of the film carries 45 minutes of Deleted Scenes as well as the trailer. A better buy for die-hards.


     The Swell Season will tell fans what their favourite "couple" was up to in the years 2006 to 2009. Anyone wanting to see the Once story all over again can go to Broadway where the musical runs nightly. Anyone wanting to know what a life of the touring musician does to relationship need look no further than this.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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