In My Father's Den (2004)

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Released 13-Apr-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers And Cast Member
Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Short Film-Possum
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 122:10
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Brad McGann

Warner Home Video
Starring Emily Barclay
Matthew MacFadyen
Miranda Otto
Colin Moy
Jimmy Keen
Toby Alexander
Nicholas Hayward
Liam Herbert
Vanessa Riddell
Asher Emanuel
Matthew Chamberlain
Peter Hishon
Mabel Wharekawa
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Simon Boswell

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 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Based on the 1972 novel by Maurice Gee, In My Father's Den is the feature film direction debut for Brad McGann, who also adapted the screenplay. The cinematography by Stuart Dryburgh (The Piano) captures some truly beautiful images of New Zealand's South Island, which was also critical in establishing the small town perception in the film.

   This impressive co-production between New Zealand and the UK is a slow burning, very sombre film about family secrets and the consequences of their concealment.

   Paul Prior (Matthew MacFadyen) is a renowned war photographer, who returns home after seventeen years to a small village in New Zealand, following the death of his father.

   Paul arrives late for the funeral service, which doesn't help his already strained relationship with his brother, Andrew (Colin Moy). Andrew and his wife Penny (Miranda Otto) run an ostrich farming business. They manage to convince Paul to stay longer than he had planned, to help sort out their father's affairs and clean out his house.

   At his father's house, Paul visits a place he remembers from his childhood, a secret den, which was a place of refuge for his father many years before. We see how significant this den was to his father, and indeed to Paul, in a series of flashbacks which flow constantly throughout the film.

   On one of those visits to the den, Paul encounters a teenage girl, Celia (Emily Barclay), who uses the den herself for peace and solitude. Paul later discovers that Celia is the daughter of an ex-girlfriend, Jackie (Jodie Rimmer). He had a relationship with Jackie in his teenage years and the two reacquaint themselves and discuss their lives, lost to each other, over the years.

    Paul also forms a strong friendship with Celia. He is attracted to her intelligent and rebellious nature, possibly some traits from his own childhood. Celia is attracted to Paul's rugged good looks and his assured, adventure filled lifestyle. The audience soon becomes convinced of a possible blood connection between the two.

   When Celia suddenly goes missing, Paul is the prime suspect and is questioned and suspected of foul play by the police. Slowly, long hidden family secrets begin to emerge and Paul must finally deal with an ultimate act of betrayal and the sheer heartbreak of his youth.

   In My Father's Den is an alluring first feature from Brad McGann. Most elements have come together nicely to create this brooding, yet absorbing dramatic mystery.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of the film is excellent.

    In My Father's Den is presented on this DVD in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer has very nice clarity and sharpness, especially with exterior scenes which look quite superb. Blacks appear bold and deep, although a couple of darker scenes displayed some light grain. The level of shadow detail was outstanding.

    The film contains a considerable amount of earth tones and muted colour, especially with interiors. This is in keeping with the sombre tone of the film. There are, however, beautiful bursts of colour when we see the surrounds of the town. The colours are rendered extremely well on this DVD and there are no signs of oversaturation.

    There were no MPEG artefacts. Film-to video artefacts were all very well controlled. Some very minor edge enhancement was noticeable at times, but only because I was particularly looking for it. I also picked up a couple of minor issues with aliasing on my second viewing of the disc. Film artefacts were not an issue.

    Unfortunately there are no subtitles on this DVD.

    This is a single sided, dual layer disc with the easily noticed layer change occurring at 76:29.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio transfer is as impressive as the video transfer.

    There are three audio tracks on the DVD. The default track is English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). The other tracks are English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) and English audio commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality was excellent for the most part. There were a couple of moments where I didn't quite understand what was said in the first instance. However, I believe this was an accent issue rather than a problem with the audio transfer. I found no problems with audio sync.

    The original music score by Simon Boswell is indeed something special. His score is sensitive, moving  and compelling, which acts as the perfect balance and contrast to the non-original and slightly heavier music, from artists such as Patti Smith and others.

    The surround track was a wonderful mix of music, ambient sounds and precise sound placement. Being a dramatic dialogue-based film, the audio mix is very effective without going to excess. Some fine examples of this are a passing train at 1:54, radio in the background at 21:55, door knocking at 5:43 and the party at 49:28.

    The subwoofer was highly active but also subtle in its usage, highlighting music and general bass effects.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is an interesting selection of extras presented on this DVD.


    All the menus are very well themed around the film and are 16x9 enhanced. All are animated with scenes from the film and also feature music from the film. Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.

Audio Commentary - Brad McGann (Director), Trevor Haysom (Producer) and Emily Barclay (Actor)

    A superb audio commentary, offering some wonderful insights and anecdotes from both behind the camera and in front. Important, though, is the fact that the information that is given to us is interesting and relevant. There are very few pauses in the commentary and all three commentators are very easy to listen to.

Featurette - Behind-the-scenes - B Roll Footage

    A collection of four short scenes seen from a behind-the-scenes perspective. Each is followed by the final finished scene, in nice contrast. Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

Short Film - Possum  (15:58)

    In a time long past, a family struggles to cope with the death of their mother. The young girl of the family, Kid, lives her life as an animal. She refuses to speak. Instead she perfectly mimics animal noises and even eats her meals under the table. When Kid takes to biting people, her father takes firm action and forces Kid to start living her life in a "normal" way. When her brother helps free her from these restraints, Kid escapes into the dangerous outside world, where there are many traps for small animals.

    Written and directed by Brad McGann, this short features many others credited on In My Father's Den. This 1997 short film uses sepia tones to great effect, giving the film a nice raw feel. It is presented with a brief text introduction and also features Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) surround encoded audio.

Theatrical Trailer (1:58)

    An excellent trailer for the film, which teases without giving too much away. Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.

R4 vs R1

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

    At the time of this review, there is no R1 version available of In My Father's Den.


    In My Father's Den is a compelling and beautiful film that burns slowly before revealing its guarded secret. The performances are first class, as is the cinematography which perfectly captures the beautiful and picturesque landscape.

    The video and audio transfers are wonderful.

    The selection of extras is quite acceptable.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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