The Official Story (Historia oficial, La) (1985)

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Released 13-Apr-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1985
Running Time 109:16
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Luis Puenzo
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Héctor Alterio
Norma Aleandro
Chunchuna Villafañe
Hugo Arana
Guillermo Battaglia
Chela Ruíz
Patricio Contreras
María Luisa Robledo
Aníbal Morixe
Jorge Petraglia
Analia Castro
Daniel Lago
Augusto Larreta
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Atilio Stampone
María Elena Walsh


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Argentinian Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
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

    When the military government seized power in 1976, it hearlded the beginnings of a dark period in Argentina's history. With the media heavily controlled and censored, many who opposed the regime simply vanished and were subsequently executed without any form of trial. The young children of the "disappeared" were often given up for adoption to supporters of the military regime.

    The Official Story is the story of a content, middle class family in the aftermath of this military rule. Alicia (Norma Aleandro) is a naive history school teacher who believes the history found in her books. Many of her students are not so eager to believe the official line and protest constantly in her class, much to Alicia's annoyance.

  Alicia's husband, Roberto (Héctor Alterio), moves in obscure circles. Much of his business life is a mystery to Alicia, but he did support and still defends the military government.

    The family is completed with their five year old adopted daughter, Gaby (Analia Castro). Alicia and Roberto are devoted to Gaby who, being the couple's only child, doesn't miss out on much.

    With the return of freedom to the media brings open reports of evil and dark acts perpetrated by the previous government. Also, street demonstrations from the mothers of Plaza de Mayo highlight the plight of missing loved ones and, indeed, their offspring.

    An old friend of Alicia's, Ana (Chunchuna Villafañe ), returns home after many years in exile. During a late night chat, Ana tells Alicia of the horrors she endured at the hands of police. She was tortured and imprisoned because they suspected her husband of being subversive. Alicia is also shattered by Ana's revelations that young children were taken from activists and given to childless couples who supported the regime.

    Alicia realises that she had very little to do with the adoption process of her own daughter and begins to question Roberto about this. He is extremely evasive on the matter, which only serves to highten her search to find the truth about Gaby's natural parentage.

    Without her husband's knowledge, Alicia consults hospital records and government archives in her quest to find the truth, regardless of the consequences. Such actions, although brave, can hardly prepare her for such tragic evidence.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is reasonably good, and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement. The film's original aspect ratio is 1.85:1.

    The main menu is themed around the film, but is static and very basic. It features looped music from the film and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer exhibited a reasonable level of sharpness and was consistent in clarity. Blacks appeared clean, but lacked decent strength and depth. Shadows held good detail, but tended to be slightly murky on occasions.

    The use of colour in The Official Story is very isolated and controled. The very subtle and muted colours enhance the tone of the film, while still appearing quite natural.

    There were no MPEG artefacts present. In the opening minutes of the film, some very slight light and dark flucuation occurs. It is very minor and would probably go undetected by many people, especially if viewed on a 4x3 display. Thankfully, it does stop after the opening credits have finished. There were a few subtle telecine wobbles throughout the film, but overall the film-to-video artefacts are well controlled. Film artefacts were very minor and caused no real distraction while viewing.

    The only subtitles available on the DVD are English. They are yellow in colour and are quite easy to read, although sometimes the dialogue is so heavy, the subtitles disappear all too quickly from the screen.

    This is a single sided, single layer disc, so there is no layer change to negotiate.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer is very good, although very modest.

    The only audio track on this DVD is Spanish, Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s). The cover slick on this release states that the language is Argentinian. Every piece of information I could find relating to The Official Story claims that the original language is, in fact, Spanish.

    Although I have no understanding of the language, the dialogue certainly sounded clear throughout the film. Likewise, audio sync appeared to be spot on.

    The original music score by Atilio Stampone and Maria Elena Walsh enhanced the mood of the film very well. Various pieces of classical music are also incorporated into the score.

    The surrounds were not used.

    The subwoofer was used very conservatively and was negligable.

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

Extras

    This DVD release contains no extras.

R4 vs R1

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

    There was an all-region US version of The Official Story released in November 2004. That edition is almost indentical to this Australian all-region version. However, the US disc does feature a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and, of course, a NTSC transfer. Both releases are totally void of any extras.

Summary

    The Official Story is a confronting, but moving story of evil atrocities peretrated by the military government of Argentina in the seventies. The performances by the entire cast are superb, especially the harrowing work of Norma Aleandro in the lead role. She is simply unforgetable.

    The Official Story has won many awards, including the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film in 1986.

    The video and audio transfers are resonably good.

    The absence of any extras is a huge disappointment.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Monday, June 06, 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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