The Sapphires (2012)

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Released 7-Dec-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Featurette-Making Of
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 99:13 (Case: 103)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Wayne Blair
Entertainment One Starring Chris O'Dowd
Deborah Mailman
Jessica Mauboy
Shari Sebbens
Miranda Tapsell
Tory Kittles
Eka Darville
Case ?
RPI ? Music Cezary Skubiszewski

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     In 1968 three Aboriginal sisters from a mission in rural Victoria, Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell), Gail (Deborah Mailman) and Julie (Jessica Mauboy), are discovered performing in a local pub talent contest by down and out entrepreneur Dave (Chris O’Dowd). He persuades them to go to Melbourne where, joined by their cousin Kay (Shari Sebbens), they successfully audition for the US military and, as The Sapphires, go to Vietnam to entertain the American troops. The Sapphires is the story of their conflicts, their friendships, their loves and their tour of duty in the war zone.

     The Sapphires started life as a musical stage play by Tony Briggs, whose mother actually did work as an entertainer in Vietnam, and is based on the experiences of two sets of sisters who are actually seen at the end of the film, a nice touch. The cast is uniformly excellent and it is difficult to pick the most charismatic, although Chris O’Dowd with his sad dog look and Jessica Mauboy and her magnificent voice probably just shade it. The film’s locations in Vietnam and rural Australia look great, the performance songs are delivered with colour, style and gusto. Although the film does refer to the “stolen generation” in Australia and the racism of the times in the USA, Australia and Vietnam, and to the damage done by war, these themes are never laboured and the feel-good elements highlighted. As well, the romantic subplots feel superficial, and are not developed to any extent.

     The Sapphires is somewhat superficial in addressing the racism of the day and the horrors of the Vietnam War, so the trials the young women were required to go through is reduced to almost nothing, and the romantic subplots get too much time. However, The Sapphires is intended to be entertaining, and the result is a light-hearted, good humoured and funny film with a killer soundtrack (which reached number 1 on the ARIA Album Charts).

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Transfer Quality


     The Sapphires is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     The print is sharp and detailed and looks great. In fact the detail is so good it makes the indifferent CGI tracers and explosions in the sequence towards the end of the film quite obvious. The colours are luminous, be they the browns and yellows of rural Australia or the greens and blues of Vietnam. When the girls perform on stage in their sparking blue dresses it looks fabulous. Blacks and shadow detail are excellent, brightness, contrast and skin tones natural. There is occasional pleasing light grain, but except for slight motion blur I did not notice any film or video artefacts.

     There were no problems with lip synchronisation.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

     The layer change at 55:48 was at the end of a scene and resulted in a slight pause on my equipment.

     A great looking print with wonderful colours.

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


     Audio is a choice between English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps, English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps and English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio description for the vision impaired at 192 Kbps.

     I listened to the 5.1 audio track. Dialogue is good and the music and songs come across well. The surrounds are not overused, with mainly ambient sound and some music. What we get works OK although to my ears it could have used more oomph during the performance numbers or during the Vietcong attack. The sub-woofer provides support to the music and explosions without calling attention to itself.

     The original music by Cezary Skubiszewski, who also scored Bran Nue Dae, was good but the highlights of the soundtrack were the songs, some sung by the women in the film, by the likes of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Isaac Hayes, Sam & Dave, “Smokey” Robinson and Otis Redding.

     The audio does the job without being outstanding.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Making of The Sapphires (12:04)

     On set footage plus interviews with Tony Briggs, the co-writer whose mother performed in Vietnam, plus the director, producers, director of photography, costume designer, hairdresser, editor, production designer and the five principle cast members, all in 12 minutes! They talk about casting, clothes, the production and shooting on film to get the right look. Obviously not in much depth with all those people in 12 minutes, but interesting enough.

R4 vs R1

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

     There is no release of The Sapphires outside of Region 4 at present, with the Region 2 UK due in March 2013. The Australian Region B Blu-ray has additional extra features: rehearsal footage, Vietnam featurette, character profiles, deleted scenes, cast interviews and interview with the original Sapphires so that is the best option if your system will allow it.


     Based on actual events, in The Sapphires an all-girl Aboriginal singing group do a tour of duty in Vietnam entertaining the US troops. Although the film does refer to the ‘stolen generation” in Australia and the racism of the times in both the USA and Australia, on the whole The Sapphires is a light-hearted, good humoured and funny film with a killer soundtrack.

     The video is excellent, the audio are good. There is one reasonably interesting extra, but the Blu-ray release has more.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, December 21, 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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