Together (He ni zai yi qi) (2002)

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Released 10-Nov-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Amandla!, Russian Ark, Standing In The Shadows Of Motown
Trailer-Swing, Calle 54, Molokai
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 114:12 (Case: 118)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:45) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Kaige Chen
Studio
Distributor
Moonstone Entertain.
Madman Entertainment
Starring Yun Tang
Peiqi Liu
Hong Chen
Zhiwen Wang
Kaige Chen
Qiang Chen
Qing Zhang
Hye-ri Kim
Bing Liu
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Ling Zhao


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 (224Kb/s)
Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
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

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Plot Synopsis

     Together is a glorious film brought to us by Chen Kaige who previously delivered the magnificent Farewell My Concubine. In this offering, Chen blends the theme of coming of age between the story of a 13 year old violin prodigy and modern China itself. Liu Xiaochun (Tang Yun) lives with his father, Liu Cheng (Liu Peiqi) in a humble village, trapped somewhat in a time warp. Xiaochun has won every musical competition he has ever entered, and his father takes deep pride in being the parent of such a gifted boy. But it is clearly apparent that to give Xiaochun the fullest opportunities, they must move to Beijing.

     With all of his worldly wealth stored in his cap, the father takes his son to the hustle and bustle of city, nearly losing him on their first night, when Xiaochun falls under the spell of the vivacious Lili (Chen Hong). Eventually reunited, father and son find meagre lodgings in a bathhouse while Liu Cheng looks for a teacher who will ignite his son's future. Unfortunately, the world of music, like everything else in this metropolis, is governed by graft and greed. Prizes and opportunities are awarded for the highest gratuity, not the greatest talent - a fact that Liu Cheng learns from the crusty and disenfranchised professor, Jiang (Wang Zhiwen).

     But the father's gentle but determined persistence eventually pays off, and Professor Jiang reluctantly accepts Xiaochun as a pupil. Together, the professor and his student challenge and draw each other out. Meanwhile, father and son have found more permanent lodgings, coincidentally, in the same compound as the beguiling Lili. Xiaochun and Lili become closer and closer - he is fascinated and bewitched by her, and for Lili, perhaps his innocence is a refreshing contrast to her own loss of naiveté. Whilst the father works slavishly, sacrificing everything that he has to advance his son, Xiaochun is torn between his love for music and his painful advent into teenage years. It becomes clear that his playing is deeply influenced by his emotional state, for better or for worse. He is a young boy in a brash city. His father's simple peasant ways are beginning to become an embarrassment to him, and he is being swept up into the maelstrom of materialism and consumerism on offer in a big city.

     It becomes apparent to Liu Cheng that his son has gone as far as he can with Professor Jiang, and he again begins his pursuit of another teacher for the boy. In his simple, humble manner, he entreats the celebrity teacher, Prof. Yu Shifeng (Chen Kaige) to take on his son, eventually wearing down his reluctance by appealing to Professor Yu's wife with the real story of Xiaochun's origin. But Yu is a stern master. Whilst Yu acknowledges and demands the ability to "play from the heart," he himself is a man disconnected from his own emotional centre. His world has become encapsulated by the external trappings of wealth, and he has become accustomed to manipulating people around him to achieve his aims.

     In playing out the story of Together, Chen examines the awkward coming of age, not just of Xiaochun, but of modern China as well. Whilst the villages and towns still exhibit the community and values of a foregone time, the cities are struggling like gangling teenagers - searching for a new identity and their place in the global community. There appears a subtle warning here about the dangers of eschewing the past completely in the grasp for the new. As Xiaochun must ultimately decide what's truly important, it appears that Chen exhorts his country to do the same. Certainly, the film portrays a modern China, filled with occidental influences, that may contrast sharply with our notions of what this country is like.

     The film itself appears to be a blend between oriental and occidental storytelling. It is superbly photographed, compositionally taut and very accessible to a western audience. The characters are beautifully drawn and the story is unashamedly sentimental without being tooth-achingly sweet. A wonderful, emotional and warm cinematic experience. Highly recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced.

     The detail is absolutely glorious in this presentation. The print is crisp, sharp and holds excellent detail in both shadows and highlights. There is little evidence of low level noise, and the grain levels are exceptionally good.

     The colour palette is equally wonderful. The colours are subtle and rich, skin tones are excellent, and there are no halations present in the strong colours. There are a number of very low light scenes, which are filmed in an almost monochromatic scheme, but in those instances, the subtleties of each tone are gloriously rendered.

     The actual transfer is again very good, with very little aliasing and only the most minor of scratches or dust spots to contend with. The print is crisp, clean and detailed - a pleasure to watch. The subtitles are burnt into the image. They are yellow and easy to read, and they appear in a timely order.

     This disc is an RSDL disc with the layer change at 68:45, in Chapter 13. It presents no distractions at all, and is a smooth and quick change.

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

Audio

     There are two audio tracks on this DVD - Mandarin Dolby Digital 5.1 and Mandarin Dolby Digital 2.0

     Dialogue presents no problems at all in this transfer - my Mandarin is non-existent, but each syllable was clear and audible. There were no audio sync problems at all.

     The music in this production is an absolute treat. Great swells of glorious pieces of music match up with majestic imagery - for example, one superb shot is of a musical group performing Purcell's Trumpet Voluntary outside the Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City. Every piece of music was used to magnificent effect, and created the emotional spine of the film.

     The surround soundtrack was one of the best I've ever heard, completely immersing the viewer in the experience. Subtle notes and great directional use of the speakers made this an absolute treat.

     The subwoofer was kept quite busy in this production, providing hefty oomph and undertones, particularly in the orchestral sections of the film. Wonderful.

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

Extras

Menu

     The menu has theme music and clips from the film. It is easy to navigate, and sets the tone well.

Interviews

     Interviews with:

Director Chen Keige (who also plays Professor Yu) 6:39
Chen Hong (who plays Lili, and is also the director's wife) 1:31
Li Chuanyun (who plays Tang Rong, and also performed some of the score) 5:42

Photo Gallery

     14 images from the film. A little small, but interesting.

Trailer (1:52)

Madman Trailers

R4 vs R1

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

     This is an all-zone coded disc but presented in a PAL format. For Australian viewers, this is a far superior choice. All other features and extras are identical between this and the R1 disc.

Summary

     This film is delicate, dignified and achingly sentimental. It celebrates the nobility of humility, dignity and sacrifice and lauds the heroism of being authentic and genuine. The photography is glorious, the music is sublime, and the story is superlative - it is a joy to watch. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Sunday, June 13, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
SpeakersTeac 5.1 integrated system

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