Before Sunrise (1995)

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Released 14-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 96:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Richard Linklater

Warner Home Video
Starring Ethan Hawke
Julie Delpy
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $14.90 Music Fred Frith

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English 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 for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    I've got a bit of a personal attachment to this film. I first saw it back in 1995 on VHS video, when a former girlfriend and I were going through a bit of a tough time in our relationship. She decided a nice romantic film might just be the tonic to patch things up and so headed off to the video library and came back with this film. Of course, with a suitably male attitude I took one look at the cover jacket and thought 'oh-no it's a chick flick'. I was wrong of course, and I've since grown to feel that this is possibly one of the most under-rated films of the 1990s. Even though it failed to help in my personal relationship at the time, and watching it again for review purposes brought back some vivid and painful memories, my wife and I enjoyed it immensely.

    Sensitively directed by Richard Linklater (who was responsible for 1993s Dazed and Confused), it is essentially the tale of two people who meet as strangers and part as incredibly close friends only a few hours later - possibly to never meet again. But it offers so much more on closer inspection than that simple synopsis.

    Celine (Julie Delpy) and Jesse (Ethan Hawke) meet on a train travelling between Vienna and Budapest. Both are in their early twenties and appear to be looking for something in their lives. Celine is French and heading back to Paris after visiting her grandmother. Jesse is an American and heading to Vienna to catch a cheap flight home to the States. The two meet quite by accident on the train, but soon strike up a conversation and instantly 'click'. They talk for some time before Jesse realises he must leave Celine when the train arrives in Vienna so he can catch his flight home. But he comes up with the crazy idea of asking her to join him when in Vienna, and just hang out in the city for the night. With his flight not scheduled to leave until next morning he wasn't planning on going to a hotel, but rather just wander the streets and take in the sights of the Austrian capital.

    Celine agrees and together they leave the train and explore the streets, meeting locals, buskers, beggars, and even a fortune teller, all in between telling their life story to each other and pondering all sorts of worldly and ethical questions about love, life, and death. The two effectively cram more living into the period between sunset and before sunrise than many people would hope to do in a year. As the time approaches when Jesse must leave for his flight, the two begin to realise that this could be a life defining moment, and the turmoil is clearly evident as both try to decide whether they should advance this relationship or leave it at this one-off meeting.

    When looking at the credits and realising that the character listed third is 'wife on train', you just know this whole film is going to be made or broken by the two lead actors. Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke carry the roles off to perfection. Watch the unbridled excitement in their first kiss or glances at each other they steal when huddled in a record store listening booth and the reaction as they catch each other doing it. This is priceless filmmaking and a real joy to watch.

    This title is another in the recently released budget range from Warners. As I and several of the other reviewers have mentioned already, they represent excellent value for money and the quality is surprisingly good. Read on for the details.

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Transfer Quality


    Considering the price of the disc I was a little surprised by the quality of this transfer. Traditionally titles priced under fifteen bucks have suffered somewhat in the transfer process and are often little more than recycled VHS copies. This is certainly not the case here. This is a mostly clean, artefact free and all round pleasing transfer. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is also 16x9 enhanced. This is slightly different to the theatrical release which was framed at 1.85:1.

    While far superior to any videotape copy, it is only an average video transfer in terms of sharpness, given the level of detail we have come to expect in recent releases. Thankfully I noticed no edge enhancement, which given the subject matter and the lighting did surprise me a little - I really was expecting to see plenty of it. Probably the poorest element of the transfer is the level of shadow detail. Remember much of this film takes place in the dimly lit streets, bars, and cafes of night-time Vienna, so it's pretty important that we can see what is occurring. Some of the later scenes (particularly where Celine and Jesse are in the park drinking their red wine) are extremely dim and if you are watching this in a bright room you may struggle to see what is going on. Thankfully there is only minimal grain, which again is a real surprise and what is present does not become at all distracting. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are fairly muted and dull though you could say they were adequate for the task. Again the fact this occurs mostly at night does not help with the vibrancy.

    There are no apparent compression problems. There are virtually no instances of film-to-video artefacts such as aliasing. Film artefacts are present pretty much throughout the film, mostly of the small positive and negative spot or nick, though I did spot a rather large emulsion-like splotch at 39:33. Most of the spots are not overly annoying.

    There are only two English subtitle streams available, these being of the standard and Hearing Impaired variety. They are as accurate as can be expected, with only a few words missed every now and then.

    This is a single layered disc, so there is no layer change to navigate.

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


    There is only one audio soundtrack on this disc, and it is a quite functional English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with the surround flag present in the bitstream.

    Considering there are only two main characters in this film, and all they pretty much do is talk for virtually the entire duration, there is not a whole heap of dynamic range and only a little front soundstage channel separation. All dialogue is anchored well and truly in the centre.

    The musical score is credited to Fred Frith and is melodic and romantic. There are also plenty of traditional classical pieces scattered throughout the film, which again capture the magic of ancient Vienna.

    There is a little surround channel use. During the opening credit sequence on the train into Vienna there is consistent use for various train and background noise. There is really not a whole lot for the subwoofer to do.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Being an incredibly budget priced disc there are no extras present. I wasn't really expecting any at $14.90.

R4 vs R1

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

    There has been a Region 1 version of this film available for some time.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 disc misses out on:

    Unless a dubbed French soundtrack is of the utmost importance to you, there is absolutely no compelling reason to favour the Region 1 disc over the Region 4. When you take into account the incredibly low price which you will be able to pick up the Region 4 disc for (less than $12), the decision is a classic no-brainer. I declare the Region 4 disc the winner on price alone.


    Films like Before Sunrise are few and far between. It offers little in the way of flashy sets or locations, no special effects, no rousing soundtrack, and no high calibre Hollywood stars. What then does this film have going for it? The answer is plenty. It offers an insight into the human heart, with intelligent and thought-provoking dialogue delivered by two actors who most certainly have connected with the material and the meaning of what the director was trying to achieve. The tale of two strangers meeting, instantly connecting, and sharing not just a day with each other, but sharing themselves with each other offers something so infinitely superior to your stock standard love story it is amazing this style of film isn't done more often.

    Before Sunrise is a rare film. Watch it with someone close to you and I'm sure you'll appreciate it even more.

    The video transfer is more than acceptable for such a budget title. Aside from a few film artefacts and a little problem with shadow detail it is a mostly pleasing transfer.

    The audio is functional for what is one of the most dialogue-heavy films I have seen for sometime. There is really no call for any surround activity or heaps of low-end rumble.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Sunday, October 26, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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