The Affair of the Necklace (2001)
Main Menu Audio
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Charles Shyer (Director)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-15:04
Deleted Scenes-5 +/- commentary
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (62:58)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Charles Shyer|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This film has been made with considerable effort from a great many people. It's quite nicely made, with a lot of attention to detail, some gorgeous cinematography, and good acting from many of the actors. But it has three main problems:
The first problem, sad to say, is the lead actor, Hilary Swank she is good-looking, and quite a decent actor she captured an Oscar for her role in Boys Don't Cry, but she had help from the script, I suspect, something she doesn't get here. But she has not mastered the art of maintaining an accent; it's quite distracting to hear her voice vary from speech to speech, sometimes English, sometimes American, sometimes something else.
The second problem is the large amounts of exposition provided in the form of narration from House Minister Breteuil (Brian Cox). His voice is very good for the narration, but there is just so much of it I'm guessing that they wanted to tell too much story, and spent too much of their time on action that doesn't tell their story.
The third problem is, however, the most unforgivable. The film is boring. I had great difficulty getting through it I found myself longing for it to end. Somehow, a story of scandal and intrigue has been made tedious and dull.
This film tells a story "based on true events". The real story is supposed to have been one of the key triggers for the French Revolution, a scandal that did a lot to destroy belief in the monarchy.
There are two threads that eventually merge. The jewellers to the court of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette have made a huge necklace of diamonds (2,800 carats, they say that's over 500g), and display it to the Queen (Joely Richardson), hoping she will buy it. She accuses them of having designed and made it for Madame Du Barry, and only offering it to her because Madame du Barry has been banished; she refuses to purchase it. This threatens to ruin the jewellers, because they have had to borrow the money to buy the stones.
Nineteen years earlier, the Valois family had been denounced. The father was killed by royal soldiers, the mother died shortly thereafter, and Jeanne was rendered an orphan. Even as a child she becomes determined to reclaim her family name. Now she has made a marriage of convenience to the Count de la Motte (Adrien Brody), which gives her access to the royal court her plan is to seek help from the Queen. Her first attempt to do so is naive in the extreme, and she is laughed at by a gigolo, Retaux de Vilette (Simon Baker), but he is attracted to her, and instructs her (cue a stack more exposition...) in the ways of intrigue at court. He aids her in approaching Cardinal Louis de Rohan (Jonathan Pryce) for patronage, helped by forged letters purporting to be from the Queen. She flourishes under his patronage. When she appears to have some influence, the jewellers approach her, hoping that she can persuade the Queen to buy the necklace. This gives her an idea of how she can get the large amount of money she needs to re-establish her family name and to get back her ancestral home...
In some of the extras they explain that they did not want to make a pure period piece, they wanted something more "approachable" for a mainstream audience. This is troublesome: it's neither one thing (a true period drama), nor the other (a mainstream film).
I'd love to be able to say that this was a masterpiece, comparable to Barry Lyndon, but it's not.
This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with 16x9 enhancement. That is the original aspect ratio.
The image is quite clear, and beautifully shot. Shadow detail is good (not perfect, but good). Film grain is not a problem, except in one shot at 54:26, which shows some grain in a night-time shot. There's no low-level noise.
Colour is well-rendered, although the production design uses mostly lighter colours. There are moments where they deliberately manipulated the colour timing (such as giving a blue cast to the image), and this has been carried off well in the video transfer. There are no colour-related artefacts.
There are no film artefacts. You always hope so, in a film this recent.
There is no aliasing visible on a progressive system, and very little on a non-progressive one. There is no visible moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts.
There are subtitles in English, French, and Italian, plus captions in English and Italian. I watched the English subtitles; they are accurate enough, well-timed, and easy to read.
The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change comes at 62:58 it comes at a natural pause in a scene, and is invisible on some players, and only noticeable on others due to the length of the pause.
The soundtrack is provided in three languages, but I only listened to the English. It is Dolby Digital 5.1, at 384kbps. I also listened to the commentary, which is Dolby Digital 2.0, surround encoded, at 192kbps.
The dialogue is clear and understandable, spoiled only by Hilary Swank's inability to control her accent. There are no obvious audio sync errors.
David Newman's score is rather good. Some of it sounds like music of the period, but slightly off I suspect it was played on modern instruments rather than those of the period. Other parts of the score are most definitely modern.
The surrounds get quite a bit to do, including some rather neat directional sound effects. The subwoofer spends some of its time making ominous rumblings, but has little to do otherwise.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static with music. It's quite simple.
This is a simple one page list of the major players.
It seems he hasn't done a lot of commentaries (he hasn't directed many films; he's more often a writer), and his inexperience shows. He repeats himself a lot, and he seems to run out of things to say at times. There's a lot of "oh, she is wonderful here", "he is marvellous". He spends some of his time complaining about differences between filming in the US and in Prague, including the lack of trained film dogs. But in between those he does impart some interesting snippets and useful information, including acknowledging aspects of the film that he really likes that were the work of others. This will never win an award for best commentary, but you might find it an interesting listen nonetheless.
A fairly lightweight making-of, with altogether too much footage from the film, and far too little real "behind-the-scenes" moments. It is full of spoilers - don't watch it before you see the film.
This piece concentrates on the work of the production designer (Alex McDowell) and the costume designer (Milena Canonero). Both of them worked hard, trying to keep things accurate to the period. This is quite a lengthy piece, but doesn't seem to say an awful lot we get lots of shots of the costume designer fussing with one costume or another. It feels like 5 minutes worth of material blown out to 15 minutes.
Most of these are deleted scenes, although one is an alternative opening. They can be viewed with or without the director's commentary, and played individually or en masse. They are not in as good condition as the film, are not 16x9 enhanced, and don't appear to have been colour-timed.
Some of the shots we get to see here are funny, while others are the standard ones of actors flubbing lines and breaking up in laughter.
A normal sort of trailer, presented at 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced. Fewer spoilers than usual, which is interesting.
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 earlier this year, but is essentially the same as this disc. By all reports, the R1 video transfer is not quite as good as this one, suggesting that we may have the better disc this time.
A movie that failed to keep my attention, presented rather well on DVD.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is very good.
There are plenty of extras, and some of them are interesting.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|