The Interpreter (2005)

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Released 15-Aug-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Sydney Pollack (Director)
Alternate Ending
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Sydney Pollack At Work: From Concept To Cutting Room
Featurette-Interpreting Pan & Scan Vs Widescreen
Trailer-Pride And Prejudice, The Bourne Identity SE
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Ultimate Movie Set
Featurette-A Day in the Life of Interpreters
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 123:03 (Case: 131)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:04) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Sydney Pollack

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Nicole Kidman
Sean Penn
Catherine Keener
Jesper Christensen
Yvan Attal
Earl Cameron
George Harris
Michael Wright
Clyde Kusatsu
Eric Keenleyside
Hugo Speer
Maz Jobrani
Yusuf Gatewood
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music James Newton Howard
William V. Malpede

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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 English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Danish Audio Commentary
Finnish Audio Commentary
Swedish Audio Commentary
Norwegian Audio Commentary
Icelandic Audio Commentary
Croatian Audio Commentary
Bulgarian Audio Commentary
Greek Audio Commentary
Hebrew Audio Commentary
Arabic Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Pepsi ads appear briefly
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action during opening credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Interpreter is the latest film from renowned American director Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Electric Horseman).

    Silvia Broom (Nicole Kidman) is an interpreter with the United Nations in New York. One fine day, as she's caught alone in her 'booth', she overhears an assassination plot in the obscure African language that she happens to speak fluently. She then tries to bring this plot to light, but instead of the police believing her, they appoint a Secret Service agent, Tobin Keller (played by Sean Penn), to investigate the veracity of her claims.

    Neither lead character is particularly believable, and neither is the director's attempt at building a relationship, romantic or otherwise, between them. One particularly annoying scene was when Tobin was maintaining a not-terribly-discreet surveillance of her apartment and she rings him late at night to discuss what he does when he can't sleep!

    I found a few things annoying. Silva Broom's strong spiritual bond to her mother Africa (like her intense belief about not speaking the names of the dead) was just a little hard to swallow considering she's meant to be an educated European woman who has also lived in various countries. Additionally, some of the 'African' characters depicted in this film are a little too stereotyped.

    There are some plot twists along the way and, thankfully, the film does require some concentration from the viewer to be able to follow the story closely. It's not just a shoot-em-up action film, and is perhaps best remembered as the first film to be actually filmed inside the UN building in New York. Apparently the director met personally with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to secure the deal!

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer on this disc is presented in the original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Overall this is a good, clean transfer.

    The picture is sharp at all times with good shadow detail (such as at 50:57). There is no obvious grain nor any low-level noise.

    The colour transfer is great and matches the original colour palette chosen by the cinematographer (Darius Khondji) and the Director. There is no colour bleed or oversaturation.

    There is a little visible aliasing such as on the buildings in the background of some distant shots.

    There are no visible positive or negative film artefacts.

    Subtitles are provided in many languages, all selected on the fly via the remote, or through the disc setup menu. Curiously, no subtitles are provided for some of the words spoken in the African language in the film itself, though the subtitles are visible in the same film excerpts shown in some of the extras.

    This is an RSDL disk and the layer change occurs at 82:04 and is mid-scene but reasonable quick.

    Warning: the review disc I had 'froze' at around the 63:59 mark.

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


    On offer audio-wise is a good modern Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack that makes much use of all of the surround speakers and the subwoofer.

    Dialogue is clear at all times and there are no issues with audio sync.

    The music, by James Newton Howard (Sixth Sense, The Village, Collateral) is never too obtrusive and seems to suit the onscreen action well. It's haunting at times, something that Howard seems to specialise in, especially in his frequent collaborations with M. Night Shyamalan. However, his effort here doesn't seem to include any particularly memorable central musical theme/s.

    All surround speakers are used effectively in this soundtrack, including some good examples of effects that pan from left front to left rear speakers, as well as from left rear to right rear. There are also examples of pans from front to rear.

    The subwoofer is used to support percussion in the music, and effects, without drawing attention to itself.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Considering that this is a single-disc release, the extras are quite plentiful.

Main Menu

    After sitting through the obnoxious, loud anti-piracy commercial (that you cannot skip), you then have to sit through all the copyright warning screens and finally you end up at the menu. Even at this stage you can only stop the disc playing (such as to get to a previously 'memorised' point) by actually starting the film. I found this rather rigid approach frustrating.

Audio Commentary

    Director Sydney Pollack, in his slightly dull voice, conveys rather a lot of background information on various scenes throughout the film. He maintains a commentary that is almost always specific to the action on-screen, although there are gaps in the commentary that become wider towards the end of the film. Overall a very informative commentary track by a great, and seemingly modest, contemporary director.

Alternate Ending (2:55)

    It's nice to have this inclusion as it is somewhat different to the ending eventually included. Presented in 2.35:1 letterboxed

Deleted Scenes (total runtime 2:19)

    3 different scenes deleted from the final release. Presented in 2.35:1 letterboxed.

Featurette - Sydney Pollack at Work: From Concept to Cutting Room (10:03)

    Interesting words from Pollack on why and how he became a director, and the work involved in directing The Interpreter.

Featurette - Interpreting Pan and Scan vs Widescreen (5:04)

    A good and short interview with the Director telling us why he prefers to use the 2.35:1 film ratio and why pan and scan ruins the director's efforts. He demonstrates the difference using scenes from the film. Very good ammunition for all of us who love widescreen rather than pan and scan! 

Featurette - The Ultimate Movie Set (8:03)

    Focuses on the difficulties that the Director and other crew faced in securing permission to be the first film ever shot inside the UN building. It is interesting that all the murals/paintings within the building have been deliberately obscured in this documentary.

Featurette - A Day in the Life of Interpreters (8:17)

    This documentary focuses on a few real-life interpreters working in the UN, and differentiates between an interpreter and a translator. Apparently the former are required to add 'meaning' as they're translating, and not just provide literal word-for-word translation. A scene from the film that has been included shows the burned-in subtitles that are missing from the same scene during the main feature on the disc.


    Pride and Prejudice (2:31). The latest of the many versions of Jane Austen's classic story. Presented in 2.35:1 16x9 enhanced.

    The Bourne Identity SE (0:57). Looks like a TV ad for the special-edition DVD release. Presented in 1.78:1 letterbox.

    Interestingly there's no trailer for The Interpreter included on this disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    Interestingly, the R1 version of this title is only slated for release in October 2005 whilst the R4 version has been on sale since August 2005. Given the good quality of the video and audio transfer as well as the extras on the R4 version, and the fact that it's already on sale, I would recommend the R4 version.


       A thriller that's somewhat slow at times, though it never actually bogs down. Like many of Pollack's films, it relies more on character development rather than having a great story.

    Don't look too deeply beneath the glossy sheen of this film and you shouldn't be too disappointed. Overlook the many plot holes, and the occasionally hammy dialogue, and at least enjoy Sean Penn's solid acting (even if the role and script doesn't allow him his usual scope). One good point, to me, is that Kidman herself is perhaps slightly (just slightly) less irksome than in some of her other films...

    The video and audio presentation are very good. The extras, especially considering this is a single-disc release, are quite comprehensive and worthwhile. Worth a rental at least.

    Note: I'm assuming the lock up problem I had with this review disc will have been fixed by the time it is publicly available.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Satish Rajah (don't read my bio!)
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2801
SpeakersMain: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Another forced anti-piracy commercial - IgorWopatropski
Another forced anti-piracy ad - Mark X (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Another thought on "Another forced anti-piracy ad" - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)
Principles? -
re: Principles? - IgorWopatropski
We enjoyed it ... - Richard
Did not enjoy it at all -