Twice Born (2012)

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Released 2-Oct-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman propaganda x 4
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 124:05
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sergio Castellitto

Madman Entertainment
Starring Penelope Cruz
Emile Hirsch
Adan Haskovic
Saadet Aksoy
Pietro Castellitto
Mira Furlan
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Eduardo Cruz
Arturo Annecchino

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

†††† During the fighting in Sarajevo in 1992 Gemma (Penelope Cruz) fled the city with her new born son, leaving her American photographer husband Diego (Emile Hirsch) behind. Diego later died during the conflict; sixteen years later Gemma is invited by her old friend Gojco (Adnan Haskovic) to attend an exhibition of her late husbandís photographs in Sarajevo and she returns to the city with her teenage son Pietro (Pietro Castellitto). But Sarajevo brings back Gemmaís memories of her life with Diego: their meeting in 1984 in Sarajevo, their courtship, marriage and life in Rome, their longing for a child before the discovery that Gemma was sterile which drove a wedge between them. When the Bosnian war started, Diego and Gemma returned to Sarajevo to try to assist their friends still in the city: but their personal dilemmas resurfaced because beautiful musician Aska (Saadet Aksoy) was willing, for money, to have a child fathered by Diego and then give it to Gemma. A child is conceived and born, but as Gemma retraces those days she finds that the truth is not quite as she had believed.

†††† Born Twice is an Italian / Spanish co-production, filmed in Italy and Bosnia- Herzegovina, given considerable star power by Spanish actor Penelope Cruz, here playing an Italian. The dialogue is mostly in English although with substantial sections in Italian and Balkan languages. The film was based upon the novel by Margaret Mazzantini, who also wrote the screen play of the film in conjunction with the director Sergio Castellitto, who has far more IMDb credits as an actor than director. The result is an uneven film that twists two parallel stories together mingling themes of love, loss, grief and the power of motherhood.

†††† At just over two hours in length, the film struggles to develop its themes and relationships and some donít quite come off, especially the relationship between Gemma and Pietro: one scene where he suddenly yells at his mother seems to come out of nowhere. The flashback scenes work better and are the heart of the film helped immensely by the performances, especially by Penelope Cruz and who are both required to play two distinct ages. Emile Hirsch is more one note, but acceptable. The other big plus is the stunning widescreen photography by cinematographer Gianfilippo Corticelli which makes the mountains and cityscapes of Sarajevo beautiful to look at.

†††† At its core Twice Born is about the power of love between parents and children through three generations. The film is certainly manipulative and adds a heavy dose of melodrama with situations that perhaps worked better on the page than on the screen. The score by Eduardo Cruz, the younger brother of Penelope Cruz, with additional music by Arturo Anecchino, is also not particularly subtle, signalling how we were supposed to feel. Yet, for all this, Twice Born is beautifully made, the sections dealing with the horrors and random acts of violence of the Bosnian war are very powerful and Penelope Cruz is always worth watching.

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Transfer Quality


†††† Twice Born is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

†††† The print has a good level of detail but has been manipulated obviously to distinguish between present day and flashback sequences. The present day scenes, at least in the first half of the film, are overbright, with light, washed out colours, while the flashbacks have a more natural brightness and good rich colours. Towards the conclusion, as Gemma comes to the end of her search for the truth, the present day scenes also take on natural colouring and brightness. Blacks and shadow detail are fine throughout.

†††† There was some ghosting with movement and aliasing on some horizontal lines but otherwise artefacts and marks were absent. There was also slight colour bleed in the red opening titles.

†††† The layer change at 66:33 created a slight pause plus a bit of static in the middle of a scene.

†††† There are burnt in yellow English subtitles for the non-English dialogue. They appeared error free.

†††† The print is as the filmmakers intended.

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


†††† Audio is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps, although there were substantial sections of non-English dialogue.

†††† Dialogue is sometimes unclear due to accents, when the lack of subtitles didnít help. This is a film with a lot of dialogue, and the rears were mostly used for music and some weather effects, such as rain. The sequences of violence provided a major contrast, as the gunfire and explosions were deep and loud and ricochets and debris filled the sound stage very effectively. The sub-woofer was little used but also rumbled into life in the scenes with gunfire and explosions.

†††† The original music by Eduardo Cruz, with additional music by Arturo Anecchino, obviously signalled how we were supposed to feel, using the orchestra with strings dominating; the original score was augmented by other music as diverse as Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seegar, Nirvana, Schubert and Puccini.

†††† Lip synchronisation is fine.

†††† The audio track was appropriate for the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Theatrical Trailer (1:27)

Madman Propaganda

†††† Trailers for Biutiful (1:59), Angels of Evil (1:29), Special Forces (1:57) and The Company You Keep (2:12).

R4 vs R1

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

†††† There are not currently releases of Twice Born in either Region 1 US or Region 2 UK. lists an Italian Region 2 release, there called Venuto Al Mondo, but there are no details of extras. Buy local.


†††† Twice Born is certainly manipulative and adds a heavy dose of melodrama but it is well made and looks beautiful, while the sections dealing with the horrors and random acts of violence of the Bosnian war are very powerful. As well, Penelope Cruz is always worth watching.

†††† The video and audio are acceptable, trailers are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, November 01, 2013
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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