Under the Sand (Sous le Sable) (Madman) (2000)

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Released 14-Apr-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Interviews-Cast-Charlotte Rampling
Theatrical Trailer
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-The Circle; Dinner Rush; Kandahar; Molokai
Trailer-Monsoon Wedding; Red Satin (Satin Rouge)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 92:08 (Case: 94)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Francois Ozon
Madman Entertainment
Starring Charlotte Rampling
Bruno Cremer
Jacques Nolot
Alexandra Stewart
Pierre Vernier
Andree Tainsy
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Philippe Rombi

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Sometimes I come to review a DVD of a movie that I haven't seen before. This is such a time. How is it that I volunteer to review a movie I haven't seen? Well, sometimes the title sounds interesting; sometimes the write-up on IMDB sounds good; and sometimes I vaguely remember having read something about the movie somewhere some time ago (my memory is getting threadbare and developing gaps as I age). This movie comes into that last category, but either I misremembered what I read, or that reviewer was watching a different movie — I remember him or her as saying that this was a tautly scripted mystery. That's quite wrong.

    This is a study of a woman, Marie, who is an intelligent woman (she teaches at university), with a mental disorder (I am not sufficiently versed in the study of mental disorders to say whether this is a neurosis, a psychosis, or something else). The film may well have a greater impact if you don't know what is going on (as I did not), but that will make it hard for you to judge if you want to see it. I'll let you decide if you want to know. What is going on is: (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) she goes on holiday with her husband, they visit a beach, and he vanishes, presumably into the surf. Although her friends and colleagues assume he is dead, she totally denies this, and, in her mind, continues to see him around. She talks to him, buys him presents, and so forth. Meanwhile, others are trying to help her cope with her loss, not realising, or not completely realising, that she is in complete denial. This develops even further as her mind gets further from reality, and denies any evidence of his death. Most of the time we see what she thinks is real, although occasionally (with no warning) we see what is real.

    The film is set in France, and almost all of the dialogue is in French, with English subtitles burned into the image. There are a few lines in English, between Marie (Charlotte Rampling) and her friend Amanda (Alexandra Stewart) — this is not surprising, because Marie was born and grew up in England, but married a Frenchman, Jean (Bruno Cremer), and has been married and living in France for about 25 years.

    Charlotte Rampling's performance as Marie is quite good, although not a lot is asked of her. Perhaps the best performance comes from Andrée Tainsy, in a brief role as Marie's poisonous mother-in-law. The film is fairly understated, and not given to great outbursts of emotion. I found it a little unsettling, but interesting. I'm not sure that I would have chosen to see this film if I had known what it was about, but I don't regret doing so.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with 16x9 enhancement. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1, so this is close.

    The image is fairly soft, but not enough to detract from enjoying the film. Shadow detail is limited, but adequate, and film grain is never a problem. There's no low level noise.

    Colour is muted (I'm sure this is deliberate), but there are some nice deep shades (Marie's dark red dress is quite lovely). There are no colour-related artefacts.

    There is a low level of film artefacts, but nothing worth mentioning.

    There are very low levels of aliasing or moire, but you have to look for it. There is edge enhancement that is quite obvious at times — perhaps the worst being around 10:29, where the dark edge of Marie's swimsuit is bordered in bright white (it looked like a tan line at first). There's a little bit of MPEG background shimmer, but no other MPEG artefacts.

    The only subtitles are in English and they are burned into the image, so you can't get rid of them, even if you do understand French. That's a shame.

    The disc is single-sided and single layered. There is no layer change, but I fear it may be the reason that the image looks a little over-compressed.

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


    The only soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, not surround encoded, at 224kbps — at least it is marked (correctly) as French. I surprised myself by understanding some of the spoken French.

    The dialogue is fairly clear and comprehensible, but not obtrusively so — a few words are a touch less clear, as is appropriate to how they appear to be uttered. A couple of times there is what sounds like a trace of distortion in the dialogue. There are no obvious audio sync errors.

    The music is credited to Philippe Rombi. It's nothing special, but functional. There are a few moments where there is some distinct crackle in the music, such as around 19:17–19:20, and around 77:10.

    The surrounds and subwoofer are provided no signal by this purely stereo soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is static and silent, but perfectly functional.

Interview: Charlotte Rampling and Bruno Cremer (7:44)

    This interview, recorded in 2001, is presented in 1.78:1, with footage from the film inserted at 1.85:1.

Trailer (1:12)

    A trailer that does its best to give a flavour of the film without giving everything away — it does a decent job, but the audio is very crackly.


    Brief filmographies for Charlotte Rampling and director François Ozon.

Trailers — Madman Propaganda

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version of this disc was released in 2001, and has rather more features than this one.

    The Region 4 version is missing:

    The Region 1 version is missing:

    On that basis, the Region 1 disc sounds better, but I have no report of the quality of the transfer.


    Under The Sand is a somewhat disturbing story, presented reasonably on DVD.

    The video quality is good, but a little flawed.

    The audio quality is reasonable.

    There are some basic extras, but we don't get the audio commentary, which is a shame.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, May 06, 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

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