Isenhart (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 23-May-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Trailer-x 6 for other films
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 129:52 (Case: 125)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Hansjörg Thurn
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Bert Tischendorf
Michael Steinocher
Emilia Schüle
Sebastian Ströbel
Klaus J. Behrendt
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Joao Jarosch


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

“God’s will doesn’t explain everything”

     1171 AD. A baby boy is born in strange circumstances, named Isenhart and given to a blacksmith to raise. As he comes to manhood Isenhart (Bert Tischendorf) is watched over by Walther von Ascisberg (Erhard Hartmmann) and selected by him to receive schooling with the children of the local lord von Laurin, including Konrad (Michael Steinoher) and the beautiful Anna, with whom he falls in love. But one evening Anna is brutally murdered and her heart cut from her body. An itinerate peddler is captured; he implicates Archbishop Wilbrand von Maulbronn (Jurgen Schornagel), but he denies knowing the peddler who is then buried alive for the murder. Wilbrand takes the accusation as an insult and an opportunity to attack the von Laurin castle, killing the parents. Isenhart, Konrad, priest Hieronymus (Gotthard Lange) and surviving von Laurin daughter Sophia (Emilia Schule) escape into exile to the town of Spira.

     Five years later in Spira another girl is murdered and her heart cut out. When Isenhart and Konrad discover that another girl had been murdered the same way in Spira the year before, they begin to believe that they had condemned the wrong man for Anna’s murder. Clues left at the scene of the second murder implicate the red haired, one armed veteran soldier Michael von Bremen. Isenhart, Konrad, doctor Gunther von Martensen (Hary Prinz) and Henning von der Braake (Sebastian Strobel) travel to Michael’s ruined castle to confront him, but he commits suicide before he can be questioned. In his castle the four find anatomical drawings and writings about the existence and location of the soul. The trail then leads Isenhart and Konrad to Toledo in Spain, and to a connection in the crusades between Michael, their mentor Walther von Ascisberg and the mysterious Sydal von Friedberg. To solve the mystery of the murdered girls Isenhart and Konrad must confront something which may not only take their lives, but their souls as well.

     Isenhart – Die Jagd nach dem Seelenfanger (to give the full title) is a German TV movie of surprising complexity and intelligence. What starts as a medieval murder mystery develops into something far wider: an examination of religious doctrine verses rational scientific thought, the meaning of faith and the existence and whereabouts of the soul. If that sounds dry and boring it’s not: Isenhart, while complex, unravels its mystery and clues amid authentic looking landscapes, action sequences in the mud and dirt of medieval Europe, red herrings, a journey of self-discovery and a love story. The plot is intriguing and the film looks great: the ruined castles, the dirty and diseased markets look used and authentically medieval while the interior sets, such as the intricate design of the anatomic workshop beneath Maulbronn Abbey or the Toledo hospice, are wonderfully detailed. The acting never raises to great heights, but the intelligent story, the look of the film and the great music by Joao Jarosch more than make up for it.

     Isenhart is a revelation: a compelling, complex and intelligent medieval murder mystery that develops well beyond its initial premise into something quite unexpected.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Isenhart is presented in a ratio of 1.78:1, the original broadcast ratio, in 1080p in MPEG-4 AVC code.

     The film has been colour graded; the northern European sections have a dull grey / blue palate, with lots of low clouds and snowy landscapes. Even the greens in summer look dull and muted; there are no vibrant colours on show which is quite reasonable for medieval Europe. When the film moves to Toledo, the sun comes out and the colour palate is very bright and yellow – we are in Spain after all! Then the colours on costumes, such as the guards, have a deeper red but are still not vibrant. However, the dull look of the film, with its ruined castles and bleak winter landscape, was the intention of the filmmakers and it works fine.

     Whether due to this colour manipulation or not, the film has a very grainy look which is quite pronounced. The result is a soft looking print, with muted shadow detail. However, blacks are solid, and close-ups of faces and hair with the grime of the period are nicely detailed. The whole look is not unpleasing. Other than slight occasional motion blur artefacts are absent.

     There were white subtitles in English English. They are easy to read and seem well placed to follow the dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice of the original German DTS-HD MA 5.1 at 2676 Kbps and an English DTS-HD MA 2.0 at 1041 Kbps. The English dub is there for those who really cannot read subtitles. It is not surround encoded, and sounds flat compared to the original German audio track.

     The German audio is good. Dialogue is clear and centred. The surrounds were constantly in use for music, ambient sound, hooves and the sounds of medieval Europe such as animals. Swords clanged in a satisfactory manner and the sub-woofer gave good support to the galloping horses and the music while adding bass to the tense moments. This audio provided a good, balanced soundstage.

     The score by Joao Jarosch is excellent, using a variety of instruments to good effect. It provided great support to the film’s visual elements.

     Lip Synchronisation in the English dub was a long way off, as one might expect. In the German dub there were occasions when the sync seemed slightly off, but not often.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Trailers

     Trailers for other films: Peter (2:35), Passion Play (1:34), Pressed (1:51), In the Name of the King 2 (1:06), Ways to Live Forever (2:04) and Eliminate Archie Cookson (1:37).

R4 vs R1

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

     There is not currently a Region A US release for this film; Amazon.com only lists our Australian Region B release. A German Region B Blu-ray exists but it is the German language version, without English subtitles or the English dub. A win for Region B Australia.

Summary

     Although made for German TV, Isenhart is a revelation: a compelling, complex and intelligent medieval murder mystery that grows well beyond its premise into something quite unusual. It is an unexpected treat that will reward those interested in a film set in the middle ages that is not only about swords and killing.

     The video is fine, the audio very good. No extras relevant to the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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