Far From Men (2014)
|Year Of Production||2014|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||David Oelhoffen|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English (Burned In)||Smoking||No|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
For every nation there are conflicts that sear deep into the consciousness of the people. For the US it was the Vietnam War, for the French it was the Algerian War of Independence which raged for several years in the 50's and 60's, producing some cinema classics both contemporary (Battle of Algiers) and more recent (Cache).
Far from Men is a 2014 drama from French director David Oelhoffen. It stars Viggo Mortensen as Daru, a teacher working in the dry, dusty mountains in Algeria. He has a class of young Algerian children who he dotes on. It is 1954 and the Algerian conflict has just begun, with rebels battling French soldiers and generally causing havoc. But Daru's existence is far from men and far from conflict.
When a local arrives at the school house at night bearing a prisoner, Mohamed, (played by Reda Kateb of Un Prophete), demanding that he take the prisoner to a distant town to be judged by the French, Daru wants nothing to do with it. Ultimately he has no choice. Mohamed killed his own cousin and the relatives want blood money or revenge. They attack the school house trying to capture Mohammed and Daru realises he must carry out the mission.
It is easier said than done. The town is a full day’s walk away and the road is well travelled by rebels and soldiers, each capable of threatening the pair. Arriving near the destination Daru and Mohammed must make an important choice…
Far from Men is based on a short story The Guest by Albert Camus and the film retains some of the key elements of that story, being the existential crisis that both men face. But this film is not a dry exegesis on morality (in the original story the two characters did not speak) but rather a powerful examination of the difficulties faced during times of conflict even amongst otherwise reasonable men. Mortensen is quietly stunning in the role, well supported by Kaleb. It was presented at the Venice film Festival to general appreciation however the film did not gain much traction subsequent to the Festival. That is a pity. Hopefully it will get better treatment on DVD.
Far from Men was shot on high-definition digital video and comes to DVD in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio consistent with the original cinematic presentation.
The film is shot as a Western. The aspect ratio suits the wide open landscape and the vistas are stunning.
According to the IMDb the negative format was 5K Redcode RAW which would make for amazing viewing in Ultra High Definition or even 1080p. As it is the film is only available in high-definition in France. Again, what a pity.
The film looks great on DVD.
The flesh tones are clear and accurate. The DVD is sharp and copes well with the challenges presented by sandstorms without problems.
There are subtitles in English burnt into the print.
Far from Men carries a French 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack running at 448 Kbs. Some Arabic is also spoken including by the multi-talented Viggo Mortensen. There is also a 2.0 track running at 224Kb/s.
The dialogue can be heard clearly throughout.
The surround effects are used to give an ambience such as the sound of wind blowing through the harsh environment and the rocks under the men’s feet as they travel on the long walk.
The music deserves a special mention. The score is by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. It is spare and haunting and fits well alongside their scores for The Proposition, The Assassination of Jesse James ... and The Road. Ellis's violin work has a touch of North Africa in it.
There are no technical problems with the soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
The only real extra is a short series of deleted scenes. One scene features Daru talking at some length to a villager, which was interesting but not essential.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This title is only available for English speakers in Region 4 as yet.
Far from Men is a carefully paced story placing two men against a backdrop of increasing tension. It is an excellent film which deserved more attention from audiences. Those who love slow burn Western dramas will love it. The DVD is of excellent quality in sound and vision terms.
|DVD||Cambridge Audio 752BD All Region Blu-ray, using HDMI output|
|Display||JVC DLX 700 with 4K e-shift on 140" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital 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 78K 9.2 Channel|
|Speakers||Aaron ATS-5 7.1|