Beyond the Hills (Dupa dealuri) (2012)

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Released 2-Oct-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Directors Suite trailers x 4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 145:45
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Cristian Mungiu
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Cosmina Stratan
Cristina Flutur
Valeriu Andriuta
Dana Tapalaga
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given


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

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Plot Synopsis

     Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) and Alina (Cristina Flutur) were childhood friends in an orphanage in Romania until Alina left to find work in Germany. After Alina left, Voichita turned to God and entered the small Orthodox nunnery run by a single priest (Valeriu Andriuta) and the Mother Superior (Dana Tapalaga). As Beyond the Hills (Dupa dealuri) commences Alina arrives in Romania to collect Voichita and return with her to Germany. Alina is a lonely and disturbed young woman and when Voichita indicates that she does not want to leave the monastery Alina suffers an epileptic type fit and needs to be bound and restrained. She is taken to the hospital and sedated, but with nowhere else to go she is later discharged and returned to the monastery.

     The Mother Superior and Voichita plead that Alina be allowed to stay until she recovers and the Priest reluctantly agrees, although some of the other nuns begin to believe that she has the devil in her. Alina’s conduct continues to be erratic, one moment calm, the next aggressive, as the fits return. With snow falling outside and with no-where else she can be taken, when Alina suffers another violent fit she is chained to a plank and the Priest is persuaded to perform an exorcism to expel the evil, an exorcism that has tragic consequences.

     Beyond the Hills is a powerful, slow moving psychological drama about love, loneliness, faith, compassion and ignorance that builds inextricably towards its distressing climax. This is a film with limited dialogue, with long takes and long silences, brilliantly and naturally acted by the two first time lead actors, Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur. They jointly, and deservedly, won the best actress award at Cannes in 2012 and with a look, or a gesture, they show the inner turmoil of their characters. Valeriu Andriuta is also excellent as the Priest in a role that could easily have gone into caricature. His priest, while a conservative who believes that even entering a non-Orthodox church is a sin, acts not through zealotry but through compassion and kindness, believing his actions to be right.

     Beyond the Hills is a natural looking and sounding film. There is no music, or at least I didn’t notice any until the closing titles. Instead, it is a film of silences, of weather effects such as the wind and thunder, or a dog barking in the distance. It is constructed in long static takes, often with the backs of the actors to the camera, although in contrast a handheld camera is used in the sequences where Alina is being restrained, with the camera jerky and in close to the action, giving a sense of chaos and immediacy. Beyond the Hills is a break film, a mood enhanced by its colours and set design. The monastery is poor, without electricity, and the interiors are dull and dark, lit only by candles and lanterns while outside the winter landscape, beautifully photographed in widescreen by cinematographer Oleg Mutu, is all browns and greys before the latter white of the snow.

     Beyond the Hills is scripted and directed by Cristian Mungiu whose earlier film, the acclaimed 4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days, won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2007. Beyond the Hills is based on events that happened in Romania in 2005 and the non-fiction books of Tatiana Niculescu Bran. The screenplay by Mungiu won the award for best screenplay at Cannes in 2012 and while the film is indeed bleak, it is so well scripted and so superbly acted that the result is a genuinely powerful and compelling psychological drama that deserves to be seen.

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Transfer Quality

Video

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

     This is a film of dull landscapes and dark colours. The close-ups are sharp and detailed, although longer shots are softer. There is nothing vibrant within the colours, the winter landscape is all brown, grey or white, the habits of the nuns and the robes of the priest black. With such a muted colour palate thankfully blacks are solid and shadow detail good, so even within the dark church we see what the filmmaker intends us to see. Brightness and skin tones seem slightly on the pale side, but this is a Romanian winter. Contrast is consistent.

     Other than slight ghosting and some aliasing on the fence, artefacts and marks are absent.

    English subtitles are available in a choice of either yellow or white. They are clear and easy to read and I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

     A good print, looking as the filmmaker intended.

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

Audio

     Audio is a Romanian Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps.

     Dialogue was clear. Music is absent and the surrounds are either silent or carry ambient sound, such as wind, thunder or a dog in the distance, plus some directional effects such as doors closing. The film calls for nothing more, although in the opening scenes train sounds are evident in the rears. The sub-woofer supported the train sounds, doors, and thunder.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The layer chance created a slight pause in the middle of a scene at 77:55.

     A natural audio track that is all that is required.

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

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:40)

Directors Suite Trailers

     Trailers for other Directors Suite films from Madman: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (1:44), Certified Copy (2:01), Le Havre (2:22) and The Kid with a Bike (1:48).

R4 vs R1

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

     There is not currently a Region 1 US version of the Beyond the Hills. The Region 2 UK DVD and Blu-ray contain only the trailer as an extra. Buy local.

Summary

     Beyond the Hills is a tense and compelling film from Cristian Mungiu and, although it did not win the Palme d’Or like his previous feature, it is a powerful film which presents disturbing events in a naturalistic way that draws you completely into the world of this small Romanian monastery. A strong script and superb acting results in quality drama and compelling cinema.

     The DVD has good video and audio. A trailer is the only relevant extra but there is nothing more available in other regions.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, November 28, 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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