All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre) (Magna) (1999)

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Released 14-Feb-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 96:59
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Pedro Almodovar
Studio
Distributor
El Deseo S.A.
Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Antonia San Juan
Cecilia Roth
Penélope Cruz
Rosa María Sardá
Maria Paredes
Candela Peña
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Alberto Iglesias


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 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

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

Plot Synopsis

    You will either love or hate the films of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Many of them feature extreme characters, hilarious situations, kinky behaviour, and of course cross-dressing (Pedro himself apparently likes wearing women's clothes on occasion although he is quite masculine looking and does not really feminise himself - apparently he just likes the concept of men trying to be women).

    All About My Mother (Todo sobre mi madre) is a recent film (made in 1999) and it won the Academy Award from "Best Foreign Language Film." According to Pedro, the film is a dedication "to all actresses who have played actresses, to all men who act and become women, and to all the people who want to be mothers". It certainly seems to be a very female dominated storyline - all the major characters are women, including two who are men who have chosen to become women! It seems to be a story about the different roles that women play in society: as mothers, as actresses, as whores, and as saints. Even men who try to become women are really fulfilling a role.

    Manuela (Cecilia Roth) is a nurse and a single mother. Her son Esteban (Eloy Azorin) has reached the age of 18 and for his birthday she takes him to see a stage production of A Streetcar Named Desire. When the play finishes, Esteban wants to get an autograph of the actress Huma Rojo (Marisa Paredes) but is killed when he is run over by a car.

    Grief stricken, Manuela leaves Madrid for Barcelona to search for Esteban's father, who she has kept a secret from Esteban. He also used to be called Esteban, until he decided to become a woman and go by the name of Lola (Toni Cantó).

    In Barcelona, Manuela encounters a common friend, another transvestite called Agrado (Antonia San Juan). Through Agrado, Manuela also meets a beautiful young nun who is a social worker, Sister Rosa (Penélope Cruz). Rosa does not get along with her mother (Rosa María Sardà) and her father suffers from Alzheimer's Disease, so when she gets pregnant (by none other than Lola!) she seeks Manuela for help.

    In the meantime, Manuela tracks down the actress Huma Rojo and lands a job as her assistant after she helps locate Huma's co-actress and lover Nina (Candela Peña).

    We know we will eventually encounter Lola, but I won't spoil the film by describing how and when.

    I found this a very powerful and thought-provoking film, and funny at the same time. Don't watch this if you are a prude or homophobic, but if you have an open mind and want to be entertained (in multiple ways), this is a very rewarding film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The packaging states that the screen format is "4x3 Letterbox 1.85:1" but it is wrong. It is a letterboxed (not 16x9 enhanced) widescreen transfer, but close to the intended aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (the actual measured aspect ratio for the letterbox is around 2.30:1 which is close enough). The original film print is anamorphic 35mm.

    I really wish the transfer were 16x9 enhanced, but as letterboxed transfers go this is not bad at all. Detail levels are extremely high. As an example, look at the pattern on the notebook clearly visible around 2:16-2:19, as well as the half tone dots in the poster of Huma Rojo around 7:55-8:00 and 8:05-8:09.

    This is also a high contrast and vibrant transfer that brings out the strong primary colours in the film - another Pedro trademark.

    Although this is only a single sided single layered disc, I did not notice any compression artefacts. The film source is pristine, showing no signs of grain or film marks.

    I did however noticed many instances of shimmering, particularly during vertical pans. I suspect this transfer may have been converted from another format, such as NTSC, or perhaps down-converted from a 16x9 enhanced source.

    There is an English subtitle track present, which is turned on by default. The subtitle track is in a large font at the bottom of the frame, so you may want to be careful if you are zooming the picture on a widescreen display. Since I don't understand Spanish, I can't comment on the accuracy of the translation but the subtitles did help me understand the film.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks present on the disc (although they are not visible or selectable from the disc menus): Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448kb/s), and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224kb/s). The default is the Dolby Digital 5.1 track and that is what I listened to.

    This is a very pleasant and full sounding audio track. Dialogue is clear and crisp throughout, with no audio synchronization issues. and the background music is reproduced with high fidelity and blends in with the rest of the soundtrack.

    Although this is a surround audio track, it is a very front centre focused film. The rear speakers appear to be used exclusively for background music ambience. Many opportunities for directing environmental sounds such as rain and traffic noise were wasted as I only heard these emanating from the front speakers.

    The original music score by Alberto Iglesias sounds like moody jazz and is quite pleasant to listen to.

    The subwoofer is only lightly used.

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

Extras

    Unfortunately, there isn't much in the way of extras on this disc, and we miss out on many of the extras present on the Region 1 version.

Menu

    The menu is full frame, and includes background audio and an animated intro. Surprisingly, there no submenu to select between the two audio tracks present on the disc, although there is a submenu to turn English subtitles on and off. There are animated menu transitions.

Theatrical Trailer (1:39)

    This is presented in 1.85:1 letterboxed (not 16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224kb/s). The trailer appears to be intended for English speaking audiences.

Featurette - Behind The Scenes (5:57)

    This is a rather short featurette that has behind the scenes footage of Pedro directing several scenes. It is presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

Biographies - Cast & Crew

    This features several stills providing brief biographies for the following cast and crew:

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version is clearly far superior to the R4 version.

Summary

    All About My Mother is a film by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. It features the stories of several women, including two women who used to be men. Each woman plays several roles, including that of mother, actress, sinner, and saint.

    The video transfer is excellent but is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    Extras are fairly minimal and nowhere near those contained in the R1 version.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RP82, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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Comments (Add)
Where are the subtitles located? - MichaelCPE