Anazapta (2001)

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Tentatively Due Out for Sale 24-Mar-2004
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 110:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alberto Sciamma
Studio
Distributor
Beyond Films Int
Madman Entertainment
Starring Lena Headey
David La Haye
Jason Flemyng
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Dan Jones


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Alberto Sciamma's bleak tale of medieval revenge and lust is a far cry from his earlier directorial effort, Killer Tongue. Where Killer Tongue followed a sometimes confusing array of plot lines, involving a meteorite that transforms a woman's tongue into an impressive beast, Anazapta is a much more straightforward and dramatic supernatural thriller, without the oddball humour of his previous work. That is not to say that Sciamma fans will be disappointed by this film - on the contrary, there are a good number of reasons to check out this enjoyable, albeit derivative medieval yarn.

    Life is filthy in England in 1348, and the ongoing struggle with the French is taking  its toll on the smaller communities. As the weary men return from battle to a small parish, their news from the front is not good for the lady of the keep, Matilda (the beautiful Lena Heady), who learns of her husband's capture at the hands of the French. With the parish's financial situation in a bad way, it seems little can be done to bail out the lost Englishman, but all is not lost. The returning soldiers have brought with them a French prisoner of their own, Jacques (David La Haye), who claims to be the son of distinguished French nobility. Sensing that more can be gained from this prisoner's capture than just the safe return of their own soldier, the prisoner is kept indefinitely until his true identity can be ascertained.

    With still no cash flow in the town, crops dying and little prospect of her husband returning, Matilda seeks a deferral of taxes from her Bishop - who is less than sympathetic to say the least. Her request is granted on the condition that if the parish's taxes are not delivered in ten days she must join the bishop for some horizontal mambo in a variety of detailed and pre-arranged contortions. Horrified by this prospect, she finds within herself the determination to care for the French prisoner until he is safely exchanged for her estranged husband.

    Caring for Jacques begins to take its toll on Matilda emotionally, and her chastity belt starts to get itchy. What better way to pass the time! Life starts to unravel around Matilda when her loved ones begin falling like flies, victims of a strange affliction - but is it heaven-sent or the work of man? It seems Jacques has a somewhat controversial history in the village, and as more of his past is revealed, the more unfathomable his story becomes.

    Director and writer Alberto Sciamma has reproduced the superstition, grit and filth of the middle ages with superb detail, even down to the decayed teeth of the extras. With some great performances and an interesting supernatural twist, this is by no means a landmark film, but is certainly worth experiencing if you enjoy a well-made, genuinely violent thriller.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Anazapta is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This is altogether a decent transfer for a relatively new film, with no major issues to speak of.

    There is a good degree of film-like sharpness present in the transfer, with many examples of noticeable detail to be seen in both foreground and background objects. Shadow detail is similarly pleasant and performs particularly well in the many dark and gloomy evening scenes. I did not detect any issues concerning low level noise in the transfer.

    Bright and bold colouring is rare in this film, as you would expect from a story depicting this era of British history. Most scenes have a very grim and colourless appearance - in particular, the daytime scenes look decidedly overcast and grey. Skin tones appear true and consistent at all times and did not present any problems at all.

    Artefacting in this transfer is limited to some slight specks of dust and dirt that are in no way distracting. The worst case of film dirt that I did notice was located during some slow motion footage at 7:30, but this was only very brief. Many scenes of the film also contain a slight amount of film grain, but are not overly problematic. MPEG artefacting and aliasing are magnificently controlled and were not an issue in this transfer.

    There are unfortunately no subtitle streams included with this release.

    This disc is single layered and as a result does not feature a layer transitional pause.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio stream included on this DVD, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo stream encoded at 224Kb/s.

    Vocal delivery and dialogue is always prominent in the soundtrack, however on a couple of occasions I felt that the soundtrack score was a little too dominating. Even still, I had no problems understanding the spoken word at all during the film. The film's ADR work is spot on and as such there are no issues with audio sync during the feature.

    The stereo stream does not feature a surround flag, but performed impressively nonetheless with Pro Logic II enabled. Surround processing directed some atmospheric effects such as rain and wind to the rear channels, while I also noted some rear activity at 11:30 as some rats scurry and squeak in the left channel and also at 33:10 as a crow squawks from behind the viewer. As a whole, the experience is quite immersive and enveloping.

    The soundtrack score by Dan Jones is dramatic and orchestral, guiding the viewer through the emotional highs and lows of the film without drawing an awful lot of attention.

    There was very little subwoofer response to speak of in this soundtrack, which is hardly surprising. There was a slight murmur now and then, during storms and orchestral bursts, but that is the limit of this soundtrack.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu system is 16x9 enhanced and is animated with a number of short scenes from the film, including audio.

Trailer (1:59)

     This is an erotically geared trailer, sadly promoting the film as something it is not. The image is framed at 1.33:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

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

    The specifics of other regions will be entered when more details come to light.

Summary

    Anazapta is a mildly enjoyable journey into medieval superstition and religion, boasting some great examples of smooth direction and confronting performances. It certainly doesn't break the mould when it comes to medieval dramas, but instead manages to bring across the dirt and scum of the middle ages with good authenticity.

    The video transfer is good, with very few problems introduced during its transfer to DVD.

    The audio transfer is a stereo stream that is surprisingly immersive when given surround processing.

    The only extra is a trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, February 13, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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