Open Your Eyes (Abre los ojos) (Madman Ent) (1997)

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Released 18-Sep-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
TV Spots
Music Video
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Awards
Trailer-The Closet; Kandahar; Lumumba; Monsoon Wedding; The Bank
DVD Credits
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 114:08 (Case: 117)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Alejandro Amenabar
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Eduardo Noriega
Penelope Cruz
Chete Lera
Fele Martínez
Nimri Najwab
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Alejandro Amenabar
Mariano Marín


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded Spanish 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 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

    Open Your Eyes, or Abre Los Ojos as it is known in Spanish, is a very interesting movie in more ways than one. On its own, it is an intriguing movie that will have its audience thinking about it for years to come, but that has unfortunately been relegated to the obscure simply due to its Spanish heritage. Mainstream acceptance of non-English language films is growing, but it still has a long way to go. Taken in the context of the international market, however, Open Your Eyes will always been known as the film that gave birth to the Cameron Crowe/Tom Cruise re-teaming of Vanilla Sky. Unlike Open Your Eyes, Vanilla Sky has received an international reaction that can at best be described as tepid, with many critics describing it as the worst film of its year, and even more labelling it pretentious and self-indulgent. It is is impossible to view Open Your Eyes without taking Vanilla Sky into account, but more of that later.

    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.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality on offer for Open Your Eyes is good, especially considering this film's limited appeal in this country.

    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.

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

Audio

    Don't let the 2.0 nature of this soundtrack fool you - it is still extremely good, and delivers a very enjoyable surround sound experience.

    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.

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

Extras

    There are no extras of any real merit present on this disc. With such a renowned and ground-breaking movie, it would have been nice to see at least a few weighty extras for it.

Menu

    The menu is animated, themed around the movie, 16x9 enhanced, and features Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio.

Promotion

    This section contains three advertisements for the movie, and one music video. All are in Spanish, and none have subtitles, considerably reducing their worth. Found herein are:     All are presented at 1.85:1, not 16x9 enhanced, and with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. The "Music Video" (as there are no subtitles, it is impossible to tell what the name of the song actually is), is simply footage from the movie quickly cut together in that music video way, and with intentionally added grain.

Profiles

    This is a standard bio section featuring a short (1-2 page) biography and a filmography for the principal actors and the director. Under the profile for Amenábar, there is a link to a very poor quality 1.33:1 not 16x9 enhanced stereo audio trailer for The Others.

Production Notes

    As far as interesting extras go, this is it - 10 short pages of information on the making of the movie. Very disappointing.

Awards

    A two page list of the awards this film has won. The excitement value of this extra cannot be underestimated.

Madman Propaganda

    As is to be found on all discs from this distributor, these are a collection of cover pictures and trailers for other films in their library. At least they're honest enough to label it "propaganda". The titles featured on this disc are:

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is available in both Region 1 and Region 2 (UK and continental Europe), and appears to be identical the world over. I was not able to track down the specs of some of the continental European versions (even after wrestling with translators), so there could be a great version there, but unless you speak (or more importantly, read) the lingo, rest assured in the knowledge that our disc is as good as they come.

Summary

    Abre Los Ojos, or Open Your Eyes if you want to sound less interesting, is a very good movie that is both original and intriguing. Far outclassing its big-budget American remake, it sets about telling a story that will keep you enthralled until the last.

    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.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Nick Jardine (My bio, it's short - read it anyway)
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-555K, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS787, THX Select
SpeakersRochester Audio Animato Series (2xSAF-02, SAC-02, 3xSAB-01) + 12" Sub (150WRMS)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Martin F (read my bio)

Comments (Add)
UK Release is non-amorphic -