Short Film About Love, A (Krótki Film o Milosci) (1988)

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Released 15-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Cast-Grazyna Szapolowska (Actress)
Featurette-Interviews With Annette Insdorf & Emmanuel Finkiel
Short Film-Tramway
Trailer-The Last Metro, Shoot The Piano Player,
Trailer-A Short Film About Killing, Jules And Jim
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1988
Running Time 82:47
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Krzysztof Kieslowski
Studio
Distributor
Film Polski
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Grazyna Szapolowska
Olaf Lubaszenko
Stefania Iwinska
Piotr Machalica
Artur Barcis
Miroslawa Chojnacka
Stanislaw Gawlik
Tomasz Gradowski
Rafal Imbro
Jan Piechocinski
Krzysztof Koperski
Jaroslawa Michalewska
Emilia Ziólkowska
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Zbigniew Preisner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.59:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    This film was originally Episode 6 of Dekalog, a ten-part series made for Polish television by Krzyzstof Kieslowski. The original title of the 58 minute episode was Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, and it was retitled and expanded to 86 minutes for the cinema version.

    The story concerns Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko), a worker in the local post office. He lives in an apartment building opposite that of Magda (Grazyna Szapolowska), an older woman who has several male visitors. Each night Tomek turns into Peeping Tomek, with his telescope fixed on Magda's windows. He watches her arrive home, sees the men who come to see her, and contrives to interrupt her amorous adventures, in one case calling the gas people to fix a leaky stove at her place. He also puts fake notices in her letterbox that she has received a money order, so she will come to the post office.

    Eventually Tomek is found out, but the consequences of this are far different that one would imagine.

    In fleshing the television film out to feature length, a new ending was shot that has quite a different meaning to the original. Rather than portray Tomek's voyeurism as sexual in nature, the film effectively captures his loneliness and shyness. This is contrasted with Magda's worldly artistic nature. In keeping with the circular or symmetric nature of many of his films, Kieslowski turns the voyeurism around during the course of this work. While this is not entirely convincing in logical terms it works in a dramatic sense, enabling the film to end on an upbeat note, unlike the original.

    I would like to say that I enjoyed this film up to a point, but I was prevented from enjoying it more by a severe problem with the subtitles, which I've detailed below. In all good conscience I cannot recommend this release to anyone.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.59:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.66:1. The image appears to be slightly cropped on the left edge. The television version, based on the screen captures I have seen, looks to be a panned and scanned version of what we see on this disc.

    On the face of it the transfer seems quite good, with very few film artefacts and a reasonably clear and bright image. However,  there are a number of problems with it. It is sharp and detailed in bright light, but there are motion blurring artefacts which appear to have come from excessive noise reduction. Frequently shapes move inappropriately with regard to their placement in the frame, or in relation to the background. An example of this is in the coffee shop sequence, where the right side of Magda's face moves out of step with the left side, causing significant distortion of her features (this can be seen at 44:46). This artefact is present throughout much of the film, and is more noticeable in darker sequences. There is also some low level noise, meaning that blacks are neither deep nor solid. Otherwise colour is quite good, and flesh tones come across well.

    Some edge enhancement is also visible, and there is one instance of aliasing at 62:57.

    Now the above problems are significant but not so much as to completely spoil my enjoyment of the picture. That's because my enjoyment was spoiled by a major problem with the subtitling. The optional English subtitles appear in yellow font, and up to the 30 minute mark are timed well with the dialogue. Then a problem happens in the scene where Magda argues with the postal supervisor. From this point on the subtitles are out of sync, where the subtitle appearing on the screen while one line of dialogue is being spoken is actually for the previous line. This continues until about the 51 minute mark, where the synchronisation gets worse, with the subtitle being for the line before the previous line. In other words, the subtitles appear two lines late. This continues throughout the rest of the running time, with the last two subtitles appearing at the end of the end credits, long after the corresponding dialogue has been spoken. This problem is exacerbated by the fact that the last 20 minutes or so has very little dialogue, so you have to wait several minutes in some cases to find out what the characters have just said. It is possible to work out what is happening, but quite a few nuances are lost because of this. Unless of course you understand Polish, in which case this problem is immaterial.

    Obviously there are some quality control issues with material from this distributor, as this is not the first instance where I have found problems with either the information on the cover or the contents of the disc. Surely it cannot be that hard to carefully check the product before it is released?

    Ed: We have been advised that there was a quality control issue with a batch of these DVDs which will be corrected shortly.

    The disc is dual-layered, but the feature is contained entirely on one layer and there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    The sole audio track is Polish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, which reflects the original audio mix.

    The audio is quite good, with clear dialogue, no noticeable problems with the sound and nothing to distract the viewer from the film. The mono track renders the soundtrack very well, with the music coming across slight better than in the companion A Short Film About Killing.

    The score is by regular Kieslowski collaborator Zbigniew Preisner. It uses guitar and what sounds like a chamber ensemble to excellent effect, lending a wistful and melancholy air to proceedings.

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

Extras

    The time-coding on these extras does not show up on my review player, but is shown on my DVD-ROM.

Main Menu Audio

    The static menu features some music from the film.

Interviews   -   Cast-Grazyna Szapolowska (Actress)    (7:39)

    The lead actress talks about her experience working on the film, including having to be directed from a distance by Kieslowski using a microphone (after all, she was acting in the building opposite from the one where most of the filming was being done). She has some sensible things to say about working with the director.

    The extra is in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, and the actress speaks in Polish. There are ingrained subtitles in English.

Featurette   -   Interviews With Annette Insdorf & Emmanuel Finkiel    (24:27)

    Insdorf's interview starts with a strong sense of déjŕ vu: her self-introduction is identical to the material on A Short Film About Killing. There is a brief black screen and then she is talking about the various themes within the film, including the symmetry of certain recurring images.

    Finkiel's interview is much longer. He worked as assistant director on the Trois Couleurs trilogy and gives some insights into the way Kieslowski worked, especially emphasising his precision and sense of economy.

    Both speak in French. The interviews are in 1.33:1 and subtitles are ingrained. There are a couple of minor spelling mistakes in the subtitles.

Short Film   -   Tramway   (5:15)

    This is one of Kieslowski's first efforts, made at film school. It is in black and white, 1.33:1 and has no soundtrack. The story is about a young man who catches a tram at night and meets a girl.

Trailer-The Last Metro, Shoot The Piano Player, A Short Film About Killing, Jules And Jim   (10:11)

    Some trailers for other Umbrella releases.

R4 vs R1

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

    The UK Region 2 comes from Artificial Eye. It has mainly the same extras, with the inclusion of a director filmography and a theatrical trailer, but without the Umbrella trailers. The sole review I have seen mentions no significant problems with either the video transfer or the subtitles. It is in the original aspect ratio of 1.66:1.

    The US All Regions disc comes from Kino International. It also has the same extras as the Region 2 plus some additional trailers, and given the running time seems to be the same as the Region 2 I suspect that it is a PAL to NTSC conversion, as are most other Kino releases sourced from PAL regions.

    A Region 3 release from Korea is a PAL to NTSC conversion with motion blurring artefacts. It has some text material only in Korean, plus a photo gallery and a trailer as extras. It does have English subtitles but is in an aspect ratio of 1.50:1.

    I think the UK Region 2 release is the best based on the information available at this time.

Summary

    A very subtle and moving film, not quite up to the standard of A Short Film About Killing but compelling nonetheless. I could not recommend this disc given the severe problem with the subtitles.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is good.

    A reasonable extras package, as good as any other region.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, April 25, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
I like A Short Film About Monkeys best... - Oooh Rang, Uh Tang?