Open Your Eyes (Abre los ojos) (Madman Ent) (1997)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Trailer-The Closet; Kandahar; Lumumba; Monsoon Wedding; The Bank
|Year Of Production||1997|
|Running Time||114:08 (Case: 117)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Alejandro Amenabar|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Probably the most obvious thing about this film is that from its very first scene featuring an eerie and haunting shot of a deserted city, to the very last atop a tall building, it is visually astounding. Fortunately, to go along with the visuals there is a storyline that will intrigue and entertain to the same level. César (Eduardo Noriega) is the archetypal playboy. He is young, good looking, rich, owns more cars than he knows what to do with, and has slept with more women than he can remember. All this pales when he meets Sofía (Penelope Cruz), and he begins to believe that he may just have met the woman of his dreams. After a night of romantic connection (and not that kind), all César's dreams are shattered in an horrific car accident. Following the accident, he must piece together exactly what happened, and how he came to be locked in a psychiatric institution, charged with murder. That is where the plot synopsis must end, for to tell any more would be to give away the pleasure of discovering it while watching the movie.
The best aspect of this film is that it works on many levels, being an observation on isolation, and the need for companionship, as well as a gripping and extremely entertaining psychological thriller. It is possible to watch the movie and read the underlying meanings into it, or simply to sit back an enjoy a good story that is well told. So to the comparison with Vanilla Sky, and it is this dual nature of Open Your Eyes that is most glaringly absent from the US remake. While the remake taken on its own is at least an enjoyable film, if a little dense compared with the original, the philosophical chest-beating of Vanilla Sky is obvious and objectionable. Vanilla Sky seems egotistical - a film made "because we can". The worst part about the remake is actually how little was changed. It is not a re-imagining of Open Your Eyes so much as a carbon copy. Some things have been changed, some because the larger budget of the American film allowed for a more impressive visual, and others because the Spanish version just would not have fit in American culture. What has changed the least, however, is the dialogue. The similarity is greatest in the characters of Fele Martínez and Jason Lee; for the most part the lines said by the latter may well have simply been written out from the subtitles on this disc.
Open Your Eyes is an exciting and original film that deserves to be seen by many more people. It maintains a level of intrigue and tension throughout that is just enough to be gripping, but not too much to become gruelling. A very good film from an exciting young writer-director, those who already own Vanilla Sky owe it to themselves to check this one out - if only to learn how shallow that film is - while those who have not seen or did not enjoy the remake should definitely give this one a go. Either way, it will surprise you. Of that you can be certain.
Presented at the slightly altered aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (the original ratio was 1.85:1, and given the use of special effects in this movie, chances are that it has been cropped to the DVD ratio), this transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
The transfer is not particularly sharp, although there are no real problems with softness either, it just does not display an enormous amount of fine detail. There is quite a bit of grain present, and from time to time it becomes quite noticeable, such as from 46:37 for the remainder of the bar scene, and again when César is on top of the building at 102:20. Shadow detail is good enough to make out actions in the dark, although it is still a long way from being as good as DVD can produce. There is no low level noise.
Colours are a little washed out, although they are good enough to be engaging. Reds and other highlights still come through well, but it is the paler colours that are most affected, which does cause skin tones to look a little off. Fortunately, the effect is not troubling enough to distract.
There are few compression artefacts, amounting only to some pixelization in the areas of higher grain, but overall the transfer does have a slightly "overcompressed" feel, probably due to the fact that the whole movie has been placed on one layer. This is borne out by the presence of slight motion trails from time to time, such as in the darkly lit sequence from 84:00 on. This isn't enough to make a real difference to the transfer, but it would have been nice if it had been afforded a dual-layer effort. There is some minor aliasing, although the general lack of sharpness keeps it to a minimum most of the time, with the worst example being the stairs at 90:05. Film artefacts also make an irregular appearance, and although the vertical line at 4:27 is quite obvious, they are generally small and unobtrusive.
The solitary subtitle track is English - useful given that this film is in Spanish. The subtitles are easy to read, but do tend to be a little speedy from time to time, making it difficult to keep up with what is being said. They are coloured yellow, so those who watch plenty of SBS will be fine.
This is a single layered disc, and as such does not have a layer change.
This DVD has a solitary audio track, and it is the original Spanish dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 (at 224 Kbps) - if you have no desire to read subtitles, then you are out of luck. Note that the soundtrack is not flagged as surround, however it would certainly appear to be surround encoded, as there is plenty there when forced into surround mode.
Dialogue is clear at all times, although understanding will be difficult unless you know how to speak Spanish. The only problem with the dialogue is a slight buzz that occurs infrequently, such as at 31:10 and 59:38. It sounds as if the production audio was boosted to make hearing easier, and to that end it is preferable than taking a risk on ADR later. Audio sync appears to be spot on, and does not cause any distractions.
The music is credited to Alejandro Amenábar (yes, the director) and Mariano Marín, and is considerably better than what was offered for Vanilla Sky. It suits the action to a tee, and is excellent at driving emotions without becoming overbearing.
Surround presence, when Pro-Logic decoding is enabled, is not at all unimpressive. The surrounds carry a decent amount of score, and also account for many ambient noises. They are not really used for directional sound effects, but for a 2.0 soundtrack, they are almost as good as it gets.
The subwoofer is excellently used, providing a backing to the score or Foley effects where needed, but is never over-used.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is good enough to show off the very good production quality of this film, although it is not the greatest of DVD transfers by a fair way.
The audio quality belies the 2.0 nature, being dynamic and enveloping. Make sure you engage Pro-Logic decoding if you can, because despite being flagged as a stereo soundtrack, this gives a very good home theatre experience.
The paltry extras really don't do this film justice. Maybe at some stage in the future when Alejandro Amenábar's status has risen somewhat, this film will be revisited, but until then, it's the best we are going to do.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-555K, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||Rochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)|