Which Way Is the Front Line from Here? (2013)

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Released 2-Apr-2014

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2013
Running Time 78:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sebastian Junger
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Joel Goodman


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 None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     When, at the beginning of this fascinating documentary on the life and times of photo journalist/war photographer Tim Hetherington, the photographer has the camera placed on him he struggles to explain why he does what he does. He stumbles over the words and stops and asks for a rewind. Everything that he tries to explain comes off as sounding pretentious - about the furthest you could get from the real Hetherington.

     Hetherington, who died tragically in 2011, was something of an enigma. As he explains it himself he didn't set out to be a war photographer and never had a great interest in either combat or pure photography. His interest was in something deeper: the reasons why men, and it usually is men, pick up arms and want to kill other men.

     He almost fell into photography after leaving school and lacking direction. He had an interest in some of the world's more troubled places but it was a stint in Liberia which was to guide the rest of his life. The unusual and distinctive thing about Hetherington was that he was just as happy working with digital video as still photography and achieved great moments of pathos and sublime in both mediums.

     The documentary is directed by Sebastien Junger with whom he worked on the documentary Restrepo, a film about a small group of men holding onto a hill in Afghanistan. What could have been just a film about the politics of war combined with blood and guts was instead a deep look at mateship between men on the battlefield which captured the joy of matery and the sadness of loss. Junger, who is interviewed in the documentary, makes a comment about a special moment in the making of Restrepo. The troops were sleeping and rather than take his own rest Hetherington went through the camp filming the young men as they slept. A picture emerged of the true face of war - very young men sent into battle.

     Other war photographers who are interviewed comment that Hetherington was different from so many of his compatriots for the simple reason that he broke rule number one of war photography - don't engage with your subjects. A key tenet of war reporting and photography is to maintain a professional distance and report back through the visual medium the shocking images. Instead, Hetherington would frequently talk to and engage with the people he was photographing. This was a reflection of his interest in people rather than the pure image.

     Hetherington was killed by a mortar whilst covering the civil war in Libya in 2011. It is a sad and tragic death made more upsetting by the fact that Hetherington was at a point in his life where he was considering "going straight" and settling down with his girlfriend. This is a heartfelt tribute to a great photographer and great human being.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Which Way is the Front from Here? is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio consistent with the original aspect ratio. It is 16×9 enhanced.

     The film consists of a blend of interview footage, which is clear and sharp at all times, some filmed materials designed for cinema presentation which also have a reasonable degree of clarity and, finally, fly on the wall type vision filmed in difficult and dangerous locations. The latter is, of course, of lesser quality in terms of vision. This enhances rather than detracts from the film.

     Generally the flesh tones are accurate.

     The colours are clear. The presentation is all that could be expected from a documentary.

    There are no subtitles.

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

Audio

     Which Way is the Front Line from Here? carries with an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack running at 448 Kb/s.

     This is perhaps a little overkill for a documentary which largely consists of interview material. The dialogue is clear and easy to understand.

     The soundtrack is by experienced documentary composer Joel Goodman. It is a perfect accompaniment to the film.

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

Extras

    There are no extras.

R4 vs R1

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

  

    The version of this film on DVD in Region 4 is the same as in Region 1.

Summary

   

    Tim Hetherington was a talented photojournalist who was taken well before his time. However, it is no surprise that his passing came on the battlefield where he had spent so much professional life. The DVD is of good quality both in sound and vision terms.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
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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