Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)

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Released 9-Jan-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Interviews-Crew-Director Alison Klayman
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 91:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alison Klayman
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Danqing Chen
Ying Gao
Changwei Gu
Tehching Hsieh
Huang Hung
Yanping Liu
Evan Osnos
Ai Weiwei
Inserk Yang
Zuzhou Zuoxiao
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Ilan Isakov


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Until 2008 Ai Weiwei was probably best known as one of China's leading contemporary artists however the events of that year and the years that followed have come to define him as equally one of China's most prominent dissident voices. Ai Weiwei was responsible for the iconic bird's nest design of the main stadium for the Beijing Olympic Games. Its distinctive style came to represent the pinnacle of modern Chinese art. Not long after it was built, however, Weiwei was very public and vociferous in his criticism of the games and became an embarrassment to a government that kept dissenting voices well hidden. Weiwei's criticism was simple - China presented a glorious new face of capitalism to the world and yet at the same time was ruthless in its treatment of the people living near games venues, forcibly evicting many whilst harshly restricting any free speech.

     It didn't matter that Weiwei was prevented from getting his message across on the Internet. The new found medium of Twitter gave him the perfect opportunity to provide updates to his supporters. Whilst the criticism of the Beijing Olympic Games was perhaps the first public expression of Weiwei's dissatisfaction with the way his nation treated its people's his militant status became entrenched with the Sichuan Province earthquake of 2008.

     When the government categorically refused to come clean on the number of students killed in the earthquake Weiwei went about the process of making his own documentaries and producing a list of the dead. Later he would turn that list, of over 4500 students, into two art projects. One covered the walls, in sombre fashion, with a litany of the deceased and the other invited individuals to choose and read a name into an aural record. On this occasion his point was twofold. Firstly, the government seemed hell-bent on covering up the extent of the tragedy and, secondly, hiding the real cause of the tragedy . . not the force of the earthquake but the shoddy construction of the school buildings which collapsed like tofu.

     The story of Weiwei and his art goes back many years and includes a stint in New York in the 80s. It has intensified in recent years with a major exhibition at the Tate Modern Art Gallery comprising 100 million painted ceramic sunflower seeds and a growing public status as a rebel which saw him detained on allegations of tax fraud for several months.

     This documentary by filmmaker Alison Klayman goes behind the mythology of the man to try to put a human face on the icon. It is not always successful. Weiwei is notoriously circumspect and doesn't really like talking about his art let alone his private life. Despite the long and apparently successful marriage he has a young son with a "friend". At film’s end he remains something of a personal enigma yet managing his art in the most public of ways. Surrounded by a multitude of cats and instructing his minions in putting his art pieces together, Weiwei is a man comfortable with being a symbol of the fight against repression.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Ai Weiwei-Never Sorry was shot on digital video and comes to DVD in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio consistent with its original cinematic presentation.

     The video quality of this film varies greatly. The interview footage is by and large very good however some of the other footage is less acceptable. Aliasing and digital noise are present throughout. This is not a criticism. When you are filming the police struggling with Weiwei there isn't a lot of time for elaborate camera set-ups. The film has a rough and ready quality at these points which suits the drama of the material.

     By and large the transfer is pretty sharp. The colours are accurate as are the flesh tones.

    There are subtitles in English for the Hearing Impaired.

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

Audio

     Ai Weiwei-Never Sorry features an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 448 Kb/s.

     A surround track is probably not really required for this documentary. It consists of interviews and discussions. There is no narration. There is little evidence of surround sound.

     The dialogue can be heard fairly clearly throughout and when there are difficulties, or the language spoken is not English, there are burned in subtitles in English to assist.

     There are no technical problems with the soundtrack.

     The music is by composer Ilan Isakov. According to IMDb this is only his/her second composition. It is an engaging score.

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

Extras

Interview - Director Alison Klayman

     The only extra consists of an interview with director Alison Klayman. She details how she became involved in filming Weiwei at work and stayed with him through the dramas as his political life unfolded.

R4 vs R1

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

    The specifications for the Region 1 release appear identical. Buy local.

Summary

     As said, this is half a film about an artist and half about an activist. As such it tends to fall between two camps but is nevertheless an engaging look at this controversial modern figure.

    The sound and vision transfer is perfectly acceptable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Saturday, March 16, 2013
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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