Proof (1991)

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Released 5-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Audio Commentary-Hugo Weaving (Actor)
Gallery-Photo-Photo's From Martin's Album
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 86:10
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jocelyn Moorhouse
Studio
Distributor
House & Moorhouse
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Hugo Weaving
Geneviève Picot
Russell Crowe
Heather Mitchell
Jeffrey Walker
Daniel Pollock
Frankie J. Holden
Frank Gallacher
Saskia Post
Belinda Davey
Cliff Ellen
Tania Uren
Robert James O'Neill
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Not Drowning Waving


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   Funny, dramatic, brilliantly acted, technically superb, and yet made on a minuscule budget; Proof epitomises much of what was best about Australian cinema in the 90s. Indeed, as well as being lauded by the critics and rapidly slapped onto the curriculum in many high school English classes, Proof is the first example of the Quirky Australian Movie that dominated our film industry in that decade. As star Hugo Weaving notes, many people became heartily sick of quirkiness. Yet the quirkiness here is just that: a touch of strangeness, rather than bizarre fantasy. Taking place in a recognisable world, Proof is about real people, not caricatures.

   Three people, to be precise. Weaving plays Martin, a cold and mistrustful man who – though blind since birth – takes photographs of the people he meets and the places he goes. These photos, though often blurry or partial, are his “proof”: proof that what he sensed was what others saw. He is locked in a war of mutual humiliation and cruelty with his obsessive housekeeper, Celia (Genevieve Picot). Russell Crowe is Andy, a straightforward and likable young waiter who befriends Martin and, in so doing, sets off the drama of the film. Celia bristles at the intrusion into her battle with her employer; Andy, struggling with the burden of being Martin’s source of confirmation for the truth of his photographs, finds himself in increasingly complicated emotional territory; and Martin discovers both the possibility of new betrayal, and the possibility that old betrayals may never have happened.

   The film unfolds with considerable grace, thanks to a strong script that combines serious emotional depth with a sizable dose of humour. Weaving is a marvel, believably blind and, more importantly, totally convincing as a sharply intelligent but deeply alienated man – a man whose voice, intonation and reactions perfectly convey his self-protective lack of sympathy for those around him. Crowe is very appealing as the everyman caught by the troubling games of Celia and the weight of Martin’s trust. And Picot’s Celia is a riveting study in frustrated sexuality; smouldering and predatory, yet also vulnerable, she manifests both love and hate in her every look and movement. Truly excellent cinematography by Martin McGrath casts these three in the best possible light, as well as evoking the look and feel of ordinary life in Melbourne’s inner eastern suburbs. A small score, featuring music by Not Drowning, Waving, is highly effective. And all these elements are impeccably combined by director Jocelyn Moorhouse into a whole that is both amusing and affecting – a considerable achievement for anyone, and particularly for someone as relatively young and inexperienced as she was at the time. Still fresh after fourteen years, Proof deserves a place both in your memory and in your collection. See it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

   This is a generally remarkable transfer, with a few unfortunate flaws.

   The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, although the case says it is 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

   The whole transfer is admirably sharp and clear, with nary a blur in sight – except in some of Martin’s less competent photographs! Shadow detail is mainly very good, which is important since much of the action takes place in interiors at Martin’s dim, dark house. Only in the exterior night shot at 13:40 is shadow detail entirely lacking, and this is surely due to the source rather than the transfer. There is no low level noise. When viewed with PowerDVD, the overall brightness of scenes inside Martin’s house was constantly, if slightly, variable; viewed through my main home theatre setup, this effect was absent or so minor as to be imperceptible.

   Colours are not overabundant, but natural and attractive – the lovely blue sky at 75:13 is particularly reminiscent of a spring day in Melbourne. There are no colour artefacts.

   There was a single instance of noticeable aliasing, combined with a moire effect, on the blinds at 11:07; more seriously, there was repeated macro blocking on the green walls of Martin’s bedroom in the scene at 70:29. Although this transfer is taken from a good print of the film, there was an intermittent speckle of film artefacts. Most were barely visible flecks, but there was a long rainbow-hued blur in one frame at 6:13. Grain is very minor.

   Proof has been graced with one of the best English-for-the-hard-of-hearing subtitle streams I’ve yet seen. Not only are they accurate and readable; these subtitles are also well-timed – minimising the effect that captions can have of spoiling surprises and the rhythm of humour – and are variably positioned so as to indicate the identity and location of the speaker or sound. Excellent, admirable work.

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

Audio

   This is a good, worthy, unspectacular transfer.

   There are three audio tracks, all in English: a default Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 Kbps, a Dolby Digital 2.0 track at 224 Kbps, and a commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192 Kbps. I listened to the first and last in their entirety, and to snatches of the middle track.

   Dialogue was always clear and intelligible, although it sometimes sounded ever so slightly flat – possibly due to a combination of technical limitations in the original material and a not-quite-perfect remixing to 5.1.

   Audio sync was only a problem – and a slight one, at that – in the scene between Martin and Andy at 67:16, where it looks like Andy’s dialogue from a take focussing on Martin’s reaction has been overlaid on another shot of Andy actually speaking the words.

   There isn’t a lot of music here, although I felt that the piece that plays over the opening titles was used perhaps too often in the film itself; nonetheless it is good music, subtle and emotionally resonant, and even good fun at times. All is by Not Drowning, Waving, except for a little bit of Beethoven during a lovely cameo by the Melbourne Arts Centre.

   When the producers remixed this soundtrack to 5.1, they seem to have decided – quite appropriately, in my opinion – not to make much use of the surrounds, but rather to simply separate the dialogue from the music and background noise. Thus, although there are several scenes that focus on Martin’s use of his sense of hearing, none of these are turned into surround-sound showpieces. This is quite acceptable in such a low-key film.

   The subwoofer hasn’t been given much extra to do, either – I couldn’t notice much difference between the 5.1 soundtrack and the 2.0 soundtrack with bass redirection on. That’s not to say the subwoofer is doing nothing; it is constantly called on to reinforce the soundtrack, with particular effect in the Beethoven at 49:27. But there are no big LFE booms or other bits of subwoofer-specific fun. Nor need there be in a film like this – even if it does have a car chase!

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

Extras

    A pair of reasonable extra features left me wanting more.

Menu

    The attractive and easily navigated menus feature animated images from the film, accompanied by the title music, and are 16x9 enhanced.

Commentary: Hugo Weaving

   Fourteen years had gone by since the making of this film when Hugo Weaving recorded his commentary, and he doesn’t hesitate to let us know how much he’s having to stretch his memory. He gives an adequate account, once he’s gotten over some initial amnesia. There are a couple of interesting anecdotes, one involving the embarrassments of filming a sex scene, a worthwhile discussion of the evolution of the Australian film industry, and some information on the technical aspects of shooting in the various locations and playing a blind man. But too much time is taken up by descriptions of what is happening onscreen, or comments like “That’s a great shot.” Weaving gives praise to all concerned, but you’ll have to look elsewhere for detail or gossip. I didn’t regret listening to this commentary, but I’m unlikely to ever play it again. If Weaving had been accompanied by Jocelyn Moorhouse, or Genevieve Picot this might have been considerably more lively.

Photos From Martin's Album (4:08)

   This is a short montage of all the photographs we see in the film, accompanied by music and lingered over for longer than in the movie. While you do therefore get a chance to really look at these images, there’s not a huge amount to get out of them beyond the realisation that Russell Crowe can look quite as ordinary as anyone else when simply photographed in an everyday environment.

R4 vs R1

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

   The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

       The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 4 disc is the unchallenged champion!

Summary

   Proof is a small but wonderful film, done justice in its incarnation on DVD.

   The video quality is very good.

   The audio quality is good.

   The extras are acceptable.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tennant Reed
Saturday, August 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS730P, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE500E projecting onto 100" screen. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR601 with DD-EX and DTS-ES
SpeakersJensen SPX-7 fronts, Jensen SPX-13 centre and rear centre, Jensen SPX-4 surrounds, Jensen SPX-17 subwoofer

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