In Darkness (2011)

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Released 28-Nov-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Drama Trailer-x 2 for other films
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 137:46
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Agnieszka Holland
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robert Wieckiewicz
Benno Fürmann
Agnieszka Grochowska
Maria Schrader
Herbert Knaup
Marcin Bosak
Julia Kijowska
Jerzy Walczak
Oliwer Stanczak
Case ?
RPI ? Music Antoni Lazarkiewicz


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Polish 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 English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz) is a sewer maintenance worker during WW2 in German occupied Lvov, Poland. Socha and his fellow worker Szczepek (Kzysztof Skonieczny) augment their earnings by looting houses and selling the proceeds. They see the daily atrocities committed by the Nazis against the Jews in the Lvov ghetto but, like most Poles, stay aloof. When the Germans begin to systematically destroy the Jewish ghetto and relocate the Jews to a concentration camp, a group of Jews including Ignacy and Paulina Chiger (Herbert Knaup, Maria Schrader) and their two children, plus Mundek (Benno Furmann) and Klara (Agnieszka Grochowska), escape into the sewers. Socha and Szczepek agree to hide them, for a price. At first Socha enjoys the easy money, but as some of the Jews are caught and executed by the Germans Socha starts to identify with, and care for, the survivors, putting himself and his own wife and daughter at risk.

     In Darkness is based upon a true story of the fugitive Jews who spent 14 months hiding in the sewers of Lvov, protected and supplied by Socha. Despite the distressing subject matter, and there are atrocities on show, In Darkness is not depressing film but is, indeed, a life affirming film about survival in atrocious conditions. In the sewers life goes on; people live, make love, quarrel, argue, laugh and give birth, some try to escape and are caught and executed, some rely upon their faith, others believe that God has abandoned them. The film marks the passing of time in subtle ways; when the group first descend into the sewers they are distressed by the rats, kicking them aside, but later the young Chiger daughter Krystyna (played in the film by Milla Bankowicz - the real life Krystyna later wrote a book about her experiences in the sewers of Lvov) is seen matter of factly picking up rats and moving them off a bench, still later the rats walk around her shoulders while she totally ignores them.

     In Darkness is well served by its cast and the production design. Robert Wieckiewicz looks and sounds like a sewer worker yet his characterisation of a man who initially is in it for the money but who finds his humanity is deeply moving. His relationship with his wife Wanda (Kinga Preis) is also beautifully realised, but all the cast are natural and believable. The darkness, dampness and the claustrophobia of the sewer tunnels are also well rendered, although they are probably not as filthy as the real thing and without the smell do lack a bit of impact.

     In Darkness tells a true story of courage and survival with naturalness and with economy, without bombast or false heroics. In Darkness may, by now, tell a familiar story of the brutality and systematic murder committed by the Nazis against the Jews of Poland, but that does not mean it is not a story that still needs to be told, lest we forget. The film is moving and well-made and was nominated for a best foreign language film Oscar in 2012, but lost out to A Separation from Iran. Ultimately In Darkness is a story about the will to live, and those who found a compassion for others in terrible circumstances. This is a beautiful and compelling story, told well, and deserves be seen.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     In Darkness is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     In Darkness was filmed with the Red One digital camera, with mixed results. Much of the film is shot in dark, confined spaces within the sewer, with torches for light sources. The good news is that the blacks are solid, except when the torch flares the camera, and the shadow detail excellent. Colours are dull and muted throughout; this is a Polish winter in wartime and there are no bright colours on show. Dull greens, greys and browns dominate, although at times the film takes on a yellowish hew. The sharpness also varies. At times In Darkness was shot with jerky handheld cameras, which occasionally, such as when Socha and Szczepek are running through the forest near the beginning, can be quite nauseating.

     Marks are absent, but the film shows a surprising amount of grain; in some places the print looks as if the film was shot through a gauze (such as 24:54 or 70:25) which is distracting. Other times it was fine, with minor motion blur the only other issue.

     White English subtitles are burnt in. They are easy to read, contain no obvious grammatical or spelling errors but occasionally flash by too quickly.

     The layer change at 71:05 occurred between scenes and resulted in a slight pause.

     The print is a mixed bag but does not distract from the viewing experience.

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

Audio

     The sole audio track is Polish Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps.

     This is not an action film but the audio is very effective. Dialogue was easy to hear throughout. The Foley is a constant presence in the sewers underground with water and dripping effects. There is also good use of the rears, including panning effects, with the sounds of trucks, digging, water and the gunfire above the sewers. The sub-woofer added bass to the water during the flood, the music and the occasional explosion.

     The score by Antoni Komasa-Lazarkiewics is melancholy and moving, without being overdone. The film also benefits from the insertion of classical pieces, including some by Bach, Johann Strauss Snr. and Henry Purcell, as well as traditional folk songs. The score is a wonderful adjunct to the film, aiding the viewing experience.

     Lip synchronisation seemed off occasionally but not distractingly so.

     The audio is very good, giving an enveloping feel without being overdone.

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

Extras

     Trailers for Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and Hope Springs play on start-up (4:41). They cannot be selected from the menu. Otherwise, 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 US release contains a 29 minute interview with the director Agnieszka Holland, a 28 minute featurette in which Holland interviews Krystyna Chiger, one of the real life survivors of the events shown in the film, and a theatrical trailer. The interview with Chiger is reported to be compelling. A clear win to Region 1.

Summary

     In Darkness tells a true story of courage and survival with naturalness and economy. This is a moving and compelling story, told well, which deserves be seen.

     The video is mixed, the audio very good. There are no relevant extras on our release, unlike the Region 1.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, December 17, 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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