In the Shadow (Ve Stinu) (2012)

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Released 4-Dec-2013

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Trailer-30+ Accent Entertainment trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 101:32
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By David Ondrícek
Studio
Distributor
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Ivan Trojan
Sebastian Koch
Sona Norisova
Jiri Stepnicka
David Svehlik
Marek Taclik
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI ? Music Jan P. Muchow
Michal Novinski


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     Spring 1953: Czechoslovakia is under the firm grip of Communist rule, enforced by the agents of the State Security Bureau (SSB). However, the main worry for most citizens is the impending devaluation of the Czech currency that would render most people’s savings worthless. When police Captain Janata Hakl (Ivan Trojan) investigates a jewel store robbery the clues point to a Jewish safecracker called Kirsh, and when he is arrested part of the jewellery haul is found in his room. A Zionist organisation is suspected of orchestrating the robbery but Hakl has his doubts and feels Kirsh was set up, yet before he can investigate further the case is taken away from him by the SSB, with Major Zenke (Sebastian Koch) now the lead investigator. Zenke is a German ex-SS officer who has been investigating the smuggling of gold and currency by Jewish organisations out of the country to support Israel and he has been brought to Czechoslovakia by the Russians to ensure the arrest and trial of the Jewish group.

     Hakl is not prepared to leave things alone and he continues to search for those he believes responsible for the robbery. Following up a lead on a safecracker called Janata, he stumbles into the site of a Post Office robbery in which four men have been killed, and before the SSB arrive he manages to conceal a spent bullet. Meanwhile, the members of the Zionist organisation have been arrested by the SSB and have confessed their crimes and a show trial to sentence them to death is commencing. However Hakl’s suspicions are confirmed when the lab tests establish that the bullet found by Hakl came from a pistol that is only issued to the SSB, knowledge that will put his own life, and the lives of his wife Jitka (Sona Norisova) and young son in grave danger.

     In the Shadow (Ve Stinu) cleaned up at the 2013 Czech Lions film awards winning the categories of best film, director, music, actor (Ivan Trojan), editing, screenplay, cinematography, design and sound. In the Shadow is indeed a good looking film, an atmospheric noir thriller filmed set in the dark and rain swept streets of Lodz, Poland, standing in for Prague full of shadows by cinematographer Adam Sikora. There is a sense of claustrophobia and paranoia throughout the film, partly because In the Shadow concentrates upon the character of Hakl and his relationship with his wife and son, so that when because of his honesty he comes under threat from the SSB the audience is in no doubt that he has a lot to lose, professionally and personally. As the honest man in a corrupt world, Ivan Trojan is excellent and his scenes with Sebastian Koch, whose Zanke may not be who he seems, are excellent..

     In the Shadow is well made, well-acted and well plotted as it moves towards a tragic climax. The film looks real, the locations evoking the desolation and gloom of Eastern Europe post WWII under the control of the Communists. It seems fitting that at the end of In the Shadow there is a dedication acknowledging all those who were condemned by the Czech Communist regime’s show trials.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     In the Shadow is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     Right from the opening scene of dark, rainy streets and men in shadows, it is clear In the Shadow is operating in noir territory. Although shot in colour, there is nothing colourful about the film. This is post-war Central Europe under austere Communist control; there are no vibrant colours in the clothing or sets, where browns, dull yellows and greys dominate. Much of the film is also shot in shadow and while some shadow detail may be lost, this seems to be what the film maker intended and we see what we are intended to see. Otherwise the film is sharp in close-up detail, blacks are solid, contrast and brightness consistent.

     The print shows some motion blur against curtains or wire fences and there is occasional glare when the light source is behind the actor. Otherwise there are no marks or other artefacts.

     The layer change at 77:16 created a slight pause during a scene change.

     The burnt in English subtitles are in a clean white font. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

     A nice print.

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

Audio

     Audio is a Czech Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps, although there is a lot of German dialogue was well.

     Dialogue is clear and centred. This is not a film with a lot of action but the surrounds are constantly in use for music and ambient effects, such as the rain. There are some panning effects, such as cars passing, and during the robbery at the Post Office the shots are sharp and have depth. The sub-woofer added bass to the thunder, trolley car wheels, gunshots and the music without overdoing it.

     The original music by Jan P. Muchow and Michal Novinski won a Czech Lion film award, but to my mind it was frequently loud and strident and tended to undermine the ominous mood the visuals were establishing. I think something more subtle would have worked better, but that is obviously just my view!

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The audio track did what was required.

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

Extras

Trailers

     On start-up there were trailers for The List, At Preston Castle, Two Jacks, The Conspiracy and Static that collectively run 10:30. A total of 30 trailers of Accent Film Entertainment releases can be selected from the menu - some, but not all, of the start-up trailers are repeated- and we do get a trailer for In the Shadow included. There is a “play all” option.

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 Region 1 US or Region 2 UK release of In the Shadow listed on sales sites. A win for Region 4.

Summary

     In the Shadow scooped the 2013 Czech film awards and is an atmospheric noir thriller, set in 1953, that is well plotted, tense and atmospheric. The visuals and acting are very good which makes In the Shadow of interest to anyone interested in quality thrillers with a political edge or European cinema.

     The video and audio are fine. Trailers are the only extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, January 06, 2014
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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