Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012)
|Category||Documentary||Interviews-Crew-Director Alison Klayman|
|Year Of Production||2012|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Alison Klayman|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
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.
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.
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.
|DVD||Cambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output|
|Display||Sony 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 Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Pioneer SC-LX 81 7.1|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|