Bloody Sunday (2002)

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Released 8-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Paul Greengrass (Writer/Director) & James Nesbitt (Actor)
Audio Commentary-Don Mullan (Co-Producer & writer of the original book)
Featurette-Making Of-Bloody Sunday - History Retold
Featurette-Bloody Sunday - Ivan Cooper Remembers
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 106:02
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Paul Greengrass
Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring James Nesbitt
Nicholas Farrell
Allan Gildea
Gerard Crossan
Tim Pigott-Smith
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Dominic Muldowney

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    It is Sunday, 30th January 1972 in Derry, Northern Ireland. The IRA has been targeting British soldiers as part of the independence campaign that has plagued the region for two hundred years. Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt from Cold Feet) is the Member of Parliament from Derry, a respected man trying to walk the divide between cultures. He is an avid believer in the civil rights movement and peaceful protest in order to achieve change. Today is the day of the largest march he has ever organised in protest against arbitrary detention and torture of suspected IRA members in the hands of the British.

    On the other side of the divide waits Brigadier Patrick McClellan (Nicholas Farrell), a military man dedicated to using minimal force to maintain peace and good order. It is the intent of his superiors to use this day to round up certain hooligan elements in Derry. It is the belief that if these hooligan elements are rounded up on the day, this will increase the British Army’s ability to better police the area and decrease resistance. Little do either Ivan or Brigadier McClellan know that the peaceful march will escalate into a war zone that neither will ever forget.

    Filmed in a gritty quasi-documentary style, Bloody Sunday is an understated piece of genius film-making that will affect you in ways you would not even assume going in. Written and directed by Paul Greengrass, it details this fateful day from its peaceful planning stage through escalation after escalation to its tragic conclusion. The documentary style and lack of Hollywood conventions makes the film that more powerful and affecting. There is no music except for the drums of war across the opening credits, just the rustle of sound effects, the ambience of real life. When U2’s “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” rolls across the final credits it is a shock to the system.

    I will admit that for some this film may initially seem a little slow, and it may take a little while to settle into the documentary style, with lots of panning shots and tracking camera motion. But once you do, you find yourself relating to these people, empathising with their plights, and as the inevitable tragedy unfolds it hits you that much harder. Realistic, gritty, tense and full of fine performances by the entire cast, I cannot recommend this film highly enough.

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Transfer Quality


    Presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, this is so close to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 as to be virtually indistinguishable.

    The quasi-documentary style comes with a lot of hand-held camera work and intentional graininess and an acid washed look much like Saving Private Ryan, although the two could not be more different films. Once you take into account that a lot of that is intentional, this transfer is actually very good, and much as I remember it being at the cinema (if not a little better).

    Overall, the picture is very clear and crisp and highly detailed. There was very minimal lighting used in the filming process and so shadows tend to be flat black, and shadow detail reasonably minimal, but this was intentional and hardly a fault in the transfer.

    Colours are washed out, which was also an intentional technique to intensify the grey of the buildings and the sky and the biting cold of Derry. Only the blood seems to have an intense colour, looking far too real in the way that the Omaha Beach scene at the beginning of Saving Private Ryan does. This transfer captures this process expertly.

    There were no MPEG artefacts, and very little in the way of film-to-video transfer artefacts.

    There was a little bit of dirt on the print, most noticeably the odd white dot. None of these were in any way distracting and I am only really nit-picking here.

    Subtitles are available in English only. They are white with a grey border, and do not seem to substantially deviate from the actual dialogue.

    The dual layer pause is at 63:20. It occurs during one of the many fade-to-black scene changes and is consequently barely noticeable.

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


    The only soundtrack available is an English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround track.

    Dialogue is generally clear and easy to understand except for the instances where it is has been intentionally disfigured or drowned out or lost, the way in which it is in real life. There are no audio sync problems.

    There is no score here except for the opening credits music by Dominic Muldowney. This track is very militaristic and utilises the subwoofer well.

    Otherwise, ambience is achieved by using the surrounds to give the presence of movement, weather, crowd noise, helicopters hovering overhead, and other real outdoor or indoor noises. The attention to fine detail here is actually very surprising, with a surround field that makes you feel you are there. This can be quite disturbing to tell you the truth.

    The subwoofer was used to give depth to the noise of vehicles, most notably the Armoured Personnel Carriers, and the gunfire, and all kinds of other ambient noise.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    All menus are presented in 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, and silent.

Audio Commentary 1 – Paul Greengrass (writer/director) & James Nesbitt (actor)

    Presented in 2.0 Dolby Stereo, these two talk at a fairly sedate pace, and generally concern themselves with how they achieved the realism of the film, film making techniques in general and some interesting insights into the characters, plus a bit of trivia. The Audio commentary has an option of English subtitles.

Audio Commentary 2 – Don Mullan (author/co-producer)

    Presented in 2.0 Dolby Stereo, Mullan talks in a very stilted way, with long pauses in the middle of his sentences and long pauses in the whole commentary, and I found him a little frustrating to listen to, although a lot of what he said was quite valid and gave some interesting insight. I find commentators on their own are not generally very good because they have nobody to prompt them or to play off (like Greengrass and Nesbitt do). Still, a worthwhile commentary track overall. This commentary, too, has the option of English subtitles.

Featurette – “History Retold” (13:12)

    Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is a short documentary about the making of the film. It has several clips of interviews with the principal cast and crew, but also a lot of footage from the film, which gets to be a little bit promotional after a while.

Featurette – “Ivan Cooper Remembers” (6:45)

    Presented in 1.33:1, 16x9 enhanced, 2.0 Dolby Stereo, this is a short featuring the real Ivan Cooper and James Nesbitt together talking about what happened on 30th January 1972.

R4 vs R1

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

    The R1 version of this disc would appear to be identical apart from the NTSC colour format used in the US.


    Bloody Sunday is an important piece of film making, a British/Irish collaboration over a piece of history the two nations are divided over. The quasi-documentary style might be found to be a little alienating initially, but once you get used to it, you are engrossed and the realism just makes this infinitely more powerful.

    The video is excellent, perfectly recreating the documentary style which was intended.

    Sound is amazingly real, sometimes even a little too real.

    The extras were well above average.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Thursday, August 28, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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