In the Time of the Butterflies (Rental) (2001)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 88:06
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mariano Barroso
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Salma Hayek
Edward James Olmos
Mia Maestro
Demian Bichir
Pilar Padilla
Lumi Cavazos
Marc Anthony
Case ?
RPI Rental Music Van Dyke Parks


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     History shows that from 1930 until 1961 a ruthless man called General R. (Rafael) Leonidas Trujillo (Edward James Olmos) ruled the Dominican Republic with an iron fist. By maintaining alliances with groups from the media, churches and the upper class he was able to use these people as the cornerstone of his power base.

    Once Trujillo was in power he found it relatively easy to stay at the top by killing anyone who opposed him. More than 300,000 people, whose only crime was to tell the truth, were murdered under his dictatorship . Everything was going nicely for the General until the Mirabal sisters entered the scene.

    In The Time of the Butterflies traces the life of Minerva Mirabal (Salma Hayek) and her family and the heroic struggle to free the citizens from this ruthless dictator. Her first love was a rebel leader (Marc Anthony), responsible for planting the seed that sets her on the path to regain political freedom for her country. The death of her father, caused indirectly by Trujillo, was the catalyst she needed. Together with her husband (who gave Minerva the nickname ‘Butterfly’), fellow citizens and her sister they cause chaos by undertaking everything from smuggling weapons to placing street placards in the dead of night.

    Minerva must have been a remarkable woman - even when she was sent to jail she used her charm with the President to gain release. Many of the major events in her life were helped by the will of Trujillo who must have been captivated or blinded by her charisma.

    This is a fascinating story that I had never heard of until doing a little research for this movie. It was remarkable to see how these “Butterflies” handled every setback and used it to gain strength and more determination. I hope there is a movie out there that shows events from the President's point of view. For those that are interested, a timeline of events is available here.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in a full-frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    The transfer is clear and at times extremely sharp, which may explain an early problem with aliasing. After the introduction, the picture seems to settle into a somewhat softer image, which suited the film and made it easier on the eyes. Shadow detail was predominantly well handled with only a few exceptions. At 43:05 there is poor detail, which appears to have been compensated for by increasing the brightness, causing an extreme amount of grain to become visible. There is mild low-level noise.

    The colours were true to life in appearance with nice skin tones. The beautiful greens of the hills and plantations that the country is famous for are realistically rendered. The scenes inside the palace are where you will see the best examples of colour. All of the ladies' dresses and the medallions and other trinkets emblazoned on the President's chest all show up with good colour delineation.

    At 2:45 there is a rather distracting "halo" or shadow that appears around the man in the cream clothes. It is there for the whole scene (which only lasts a few seconds) but it is distracting nonetheless. This particular artefact could be motion blur due to excessive MPEG compression but is more likely to be an optical artefact on the original negative related to the type of lens that was used to film the shot. Aliasing is the main problem with the film, but luckily it does calm down after the first 10 minutes. At 3:013:09 you will see the “best” case of aliasing I have ever come across. Everything from the actors to the individual blades of grass are affected by this artefact. Film artefacts are very rare and not distracting at all.

    The only subtitles on this disc are in English and are close to the spoken word. Even with subtitles off, an English translation is displayed for any non-English inscriptions or plaques, which was a nice touch.

    This disc is a single layered disc, so therefore there is no layer change.

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

Audio

     The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times and devoid of any hiss.

    Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    The surround-encoded audio provided a pleasing backdrop to the main feature, but don’t expect to hear it too often. It is subtle but nonetheless well done and did not drown out the dialogue at any point.

    This film is predominantly dialogue-based and the surrounds and front left and right channels are really only there to provide a bit more backbone to the voices. There are no specific instances of directional sound effects that stood out enough to mention specifically.

    The subwoofer was not used for this feature, but as I mentioned above it was not missed nor was it really needed for the feature. The scenes with trucks had more than enough bass at the higher end that was handled by the front speakers. Any deeper and it would have been unrealistic anyway.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the movie. The main menu features a themed graphic and no audio.

    There are no extras on this disc.

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;     Both versions are identical in content. The subtitle differences and PAL/NTSC formatting differences will be the deciding factors at a personal rather than technical level.

Summary

    This movie did take a good 30 minutes to get going - perhaps the scriptwriter could have spent some more time on the General showing just how ruthless a man he was and then introduced the Mirabals in a less languid fashion. Nonetheless, it contains an excellent performance from Salma Hayek and is well worth putting on your rental list.

    The video transfer has some tragic aliasing but most of the video problems peter out in the first 10 minutes.

    The audio does make some mild use of the surrounds via surround-encoded audio but is primarily dialogue-based. This feature does not warrant, nor need, more audio channels.

    There are no extras, but being a rental this comes as no surprise.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Saturday, January 18, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-533K, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. 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 AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersWhatmough Audiolabs Magnum M30 (Mains); M05 (Centre); M10 (Rears); Magnat Vector Needle Sub25A Active SubWoofer

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