Till Human Voices Wake Us (Rental) (2001)

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Rental Version Only
Available for Rent

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-Soundtrack; Atanarjuat; Molokai; Rain
Trailer-Nine Queens;The Tracker; Walking on Water
Theatrical Trailer-2:03
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-writer/director, director of photography, producer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 97:22 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:59) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Petroni

Madman Entertainment
Starring Guy Pearce
Helena Bonham Carter
Lindley Joyner
Brooke Harmon
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Rental Music Dale Cornelius

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, rare
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Fuji film in the commentary
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is laid out against the sky,
Like a patient etherised upon a table.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown

When I volunteered to review this film I knew nothing about it but the title, but that intrigued me. It is most of the last line of The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T. S. Eliot. Prufrock is a well-known poem, and the first piece of Eliot encountered by many high school students (or, at least, the first serious piece Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, and a certain musical derived therefrom, don't count). Prufrock has been the subject of lots of learned discussion, and I have no intention of adding to it, but I will say that it feels, with advancing age, like a more and more accurate depiction of lost opportunity and regret: I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.

You will have noted that the title of the film omits the last three words. That's apposite, for this film is about one presumed drowning, and another near-drowning.

When Sam Franks was a boy (superbly played by Lindley Joyner), returned home from boarding school to the country Victorian town of Genoa, he was best friends with a local lass named Sylvia (a nice performance from Brooke Harmon). And I do mean best friends, not lovers, for the night things might have gone further tragedy strikes.

Now Samuel Franks is a man (Guy Pearce), and a psychotherapist, lecturing on forgetting, but also seeing patients. He's forced back to Genoa by the terms of his father's will, even though he clearly does not want to return. While driving through rain he sees a woman (Helena Bonham Carter) fall from a bridge, and rescues her. When she awakens he is surprised to discover that she has lost her memory. He works with her to help her remember herself, but is shocked by some of the things she seems to be remembering...

This film was shot on location in Victoria, and it features some marvellous scenery and gorgeous photography.

This film does not provide all the answers you'll want, so you'll have to do your own thinking. It's not another Picnic at Hanging Rock (where is the DVD of that movie?), but there are similarities. If you liked that film, you may like this one.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (the cover claims 1.85:1, but it's wrong), which is the intended ratio. Be warned: a crime has been committed! This film is not 16x9 enhanced, and it desperately deserves to be. I tried blowing this image up to fill the screen, but it looks horrible that way, so instead I watched it letterboxed into the mail-slotted 4:3 area on my 16:9 screen. 16x9 enhancement ought to be mandatory for every film 2.35:1 or wider. I expect better from the folks at Madman, I really do.

The image is clear and fairly sharp, if not blown up. Blown up it is horribly soft, as far too few pixels of information are spread across the screen. Shadow detail is good. There's not a lot of film grain, even at night. There's a touch of low-level noise, possibly introduced by the criminals who chose not to make a 16x9 enhanced transfer.

Colour is beautifully rendered, to the extent that Helena Bonham Carter's pallid skin tones are notably different from Guy Pearce's. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are a couple of tiny film artefacts, but you could very easily miss them.

There's some aliasing, but not a huge amount (there'd have been none with a 16x9 transfer...), including some on ghost gums; the aliasing looks a lot worse on an interlaced display (like a TV). There's only a touch of moire. There are no MPEG artefacts. There's a little bit of edge enhancement, but it's barely visible. There's some light shimmer, particularly on an interlaced display, especially on the sky.

This is a good transfer that should have been great.

There are no subtitles (OK, so the lack of 16x9 enhancement wasn't their only oversight).

The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 60:59, and it is not a good change it's reasonably placed, but it takes quite a while.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


This disc has three audio tracks. The soundtrack is provided in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 (that's nice that implies the 5.1 audio has not been compromised to provide a good stereo down-mix), and there's an audio commentary. I listened to the 5.1 track and the commentary.

The dialogue is often very quiet, and hard to hear. I raised the volume a full 10dB, which made some of the music and incidental sounds rather loud (too loud for my ears), but I still couldn't make out some of the dialogue - I really missed the (absent) subtitles. I think this difficulty with the dialogue is a mistake in the mixing of the movie, rather than a mastering flaw. There are no audio sync issues.

The score, by Dale Cornelius, is rather good.

The surrounds get lots of use. There are directional sound effects and ambient noises, and the score is well spread throughout the soundfield. This soundtrack really justifies the 5.1 setup.

The subwoofer supports the score, and adds ominous undertones (they can't be overtones, right?).

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


There's a menu for extras on this disc, but the most important extra isn't on it! To get the audio commentary you have to go to the Setup menu you could miss it if you don't explore all the menus.


The menu is subtly animated with music. There's an introduction before the main menu.

Commentary writer/director Michael Petroni, director of photography Roger Lanser, producer Dean Murphy

There are lots of gaps in this commentary, but what they have to say is often quite interesting. They provide a lot of detail about where scenes were filmed, and how, and in what temperatures (they were shooting a film set in summer in the dead of winter). Some of their anecdotes about incidents during production are quite funny. Recommended. Don't forget that this is on the Setup menu, not the Extras menu.


Sounds like an interesting extra? Nah this is just an advertisement for the soundtrack CD.


Brief bios (1 to 3 pages) for some of the people involved, including lots of producers:

Australian Theatrical Trailer (2:03)

A fairly standard issue trailer.

Madman Propaganda

As usual, this is a list of trailers presented one at a time. There are a lot of trailers here, for some interesting films:

R4 vs R1

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

As far as I can ascertain, this title is yet to be released in Region 1. This disc is marked for all regions, so it could be released in Region 1, but is unlikely to be, because it's PAL.


Till Human Voices Wake Us is an interesting film that you have to think about, which ultimately is a little unsatisfying.

The video quality is good, but would have been better with 16x9 enhancement.

The audio quality is very good, except that the dialogue is mixed rather too low.

The extras are reasonable, including a rather good commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, March 17, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews
MovieHole - Clint M
DVD Net - Anthony H (read my bio)
The DVD Bits - Damien M
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Robin P

Comments (Add)
Best Australian film? - wolfgirv REPLY POSTED