Liebestraum (1991)

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Released 10-Mar-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 108:14
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:09) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mike Figgis
Studio
Distributor

MGM
Starring Kevin Anderson
Pamela Gidley
Bill Pullman
Kim Novak
Graham Beckel
Zach Grenier
Thomas Kopache
Anne Lange
Jack Wallace
Max Perlich
Catherine Hicks
Taina Elg
Tom McDermott
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Mike Figgis


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Spanish 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 for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Spanish
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Greek
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    When I first saw the title of this film on the list of DVDs available for review, I thought it would be about the Nazis wanting to expand Germany in order to give themselves more 'living room' or lebensraum. I then discovered that this film title is spelt differently. Liebestraum literally means 'loving room', but I have also seen it translated as 'Dreams of Love'. This film is a dark, stylish thriller set in the United States and revolves around a old department store which is due to be torn down, but which houses dark secrets. The title stems from a piece of music used in various forms during the film, Liebestraum by Franz Liszt. Liebestraum was originally a lieder or song, but then Liszt wrote some nocturnes based on the song. The nocturnes are quite famous piano pieces which are used in their original form here and also in jazz interpretations. The other factor which made me decide to review this DVD was that the movie was directed by Mike Figgis, whose Cold Creek Manor I recently reviewed and quite enjoyed.

    From a plot perspective, this film is quite difficult to explain and I cannot be sure that I fully understand it despite having watched the film. The first thing we see is an affair and subsequent murder obviously set in the past. The murder occurs in what looks to be a department store. Then, skipping forward to the modern day, the plot involves an architect and author, Nick Kaminsky (Kevin Anderson) who visits the town of Elderstown to see his biological mother, Mrs Anderssen (Kim Novak, in her last film role) who is dying in a local hospital. While he is there he stays opposite an old department store, the Ralston Building, which is due to be torn down. His friend from college, whom he has not seen in the interim, Paul Kessler (Bill Pullman) is the contractor tasked with demolishing the building. Nick requests access to the building as he wishes to write something about it because he feels that it has historical importance due to the nature of its construction. Paul, feeling that he owes something to Nick, agrees on the condition that he does not get in the way of the demolition. Paul suggests that his wife, Jane (Pamela Gidley), could take photographs for Nick's writing. Jane & Nick quickly become romantically involved and have an affair. The plot comes to a conclusion without necessarily answering all your questions.

    This film is interesting from a visual and stylistic perspective but the story and character development leaves something to be desired. There were quite a few scenes which seemed to be included for stylistic rather than story development reasons. A sequence that begins with Nick leaving a party with the local sheriff and ends up with him being embarrassed by prostitutes seemed completely pointless. Additionally, it was quite offensive as it included a very long urination sequence, longer than the one in Austin Powers and not even vaguely funny. The film seemed to have a fascination with bodily secretions which I cannot really explain. A number of dream sequences also added to my confusion.

    Overall, I felt that this movie was long on atmosphere but short on cohesion and plot.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is reasonable.

    The feature is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture was generally clear and sharp throughout although there was some softness from time to time. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was average with night scenes only showing some details, although considering the use of light and dark, this may have been a stylistic choice.

    The colour was fine throughout with colours being well saturated and free from colour bleeding. The skin colouring was generally natural although occasionally a little pale.

    There were quite a lot of film artefacts on show during this presentation, more than you would expect in a film from the 1990s. They were frequent and sometimes distracting.

    There are subtitles in nine European languages including English for the Hearing Impaired. These were clear, easy to read and nearly exactly the same as the spoken word.

    This is a dual layered disc and the layer change is well placed and not terribly distracting at 63:09.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is fine, but very front and centre focussed.

    This DVD contains four audio options; an English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s and the same in German, French & Spanish.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand, however, the subtitles came in useful from time to time when the dialogue was not clear.

    There were no problems with audio sync.    

    The score of this film by the director, Mike Figgis, is very atmospheric and is one of the highlights of the film along with the visual style.

    The surround speakers & subwoofer were not used at all that I noticed.

       

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu included a scene selection function and is static.

Theatrical Trailer (1:38)

    This is quite a good trailer which doesn't give away too much of the plot and actually makes it seem like a better film than it is.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 version of the disc includes a cut version of the film with the cut scene included as a bonus feature. The Region 4 version includes the scene within the body of the film. Otherwise they are identical except for PAL/NTSC differences. The Region 4 is preferred for these reasons.

Summary

    This disc contains a strange and confusing thriller with an interesting visual style.

    The video quality is reasonable but has some issues..

    The audio quality is reasonable.

    The disc has only a theatrical trailer for an extra. A director's commentary may have helped to explain the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, July 12, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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