The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro) (2004)

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Released 31-Aug-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Train
Audio Commentary-Alejandro Amenabar (Director)
Deleted Scenes-And Alternate Scenes
Featurette-Documentary - A Trip To The Sea Inside
Gallery-Photo
Gallery-Storyboard
Gallery-Set Design
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 120:44 (Case: 122)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (92:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Alejandro Amenábar
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Javier Bardem
Belén Rueda
Lola Dueñas
Mabel Rivera
Celso Bugallo
Clara Segura
Joan Dalmau
Alberto Jiménez
Tamar Novas
Francesc Garrido
José María Pou
Alberto Amarilla
Andrea Occhipinti
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Alejandro Amenábar


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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-American (Burned In)
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Sea Inside (Mar Adentro) portrays the profound and inspiring life of Spanish Quadriplegic Ramon Sampedro (Javier Bardem). At the peak of his life Ramon suffered a permanent injury after diving headfirst into shallow water, the impact rendering him immobile and entirely dependant on constant care. Deeply unhappy with his condition and the undignified life associated with it, he gained notoriety through his public battle for the right to commit suicide. He saw his existence as unnatural and felt that life was a right he could refuse rather than an obligation he had to endure. This is the kind of film that benefits from in-depth discussion afterward, and whether you agree with the philosophy involved or not, what makes the film particularly intriguing is its depth of performances and breathtaking cinematography.

    Although the subject matter may sound a little depressing on the surface, the film itself is actually focused equally on life's joys as much as it is on the finality of death. Ramon's quest to end his life is paralleled by his relationships with several women, all of whom express their love for him in a different manner. These include Rose, a factory worker and local DJ who visits his bedside regularly; Manuela, his sister-in-law who cares for him day and night; and Julia, an attractive lawyer that seeks to assist him with the legalities of his goal. Obviously his inability to engage in the physical side of love is a major source of frustration, one that compounds his feeling of inadequacy. Initially, none are happy about his desire to die, in fact opinions are divided within his family and are understandably intense. His father brands him a quitter and considers his even entertaining the idea of the act completely selfish, while his young nephew is understanding and supportive despite the fatherly, unspoken reliance he has on his uncle.

    How the film ends is obvious - rather it's the journey there that defines this experience. Bardem's performance is truly outstanding, as are all the cast found here. Alejandro Amenabar's direction is fluid and entertaining in a manner that is true to his prior work, which includes the Nicole Kidman thriller The Others. I can't think of any other way to do this film further justice, other than say "see it!", at least before a remake is made.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in the film's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.

    The image is sharp and clear, with plenty of detail visible. Shadow detail is realistic and consistent, while black levels contain noticeable depth. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    There is no colour bleeding or oversaturation present. The palette is consistent throughout the film and there are no rendering abnormalities to be seen.

    There are a few film artefacts present but these never extend beyond tiny specks of dust and dirt. I noticed a little MPEG compression grain on some occasions, particularly during scenes involving a lot of action and colour. The transfer has been encoded with a highly variable bitrate averaging 5.47Mb/s, with many peaks over 9Mb/s.

    English subtitles are unfortunately burned into the video stream and cannot be removed. The titles are comprised of an easy to read font and contain no obvious spelling or grammatical errors. There are some Americanisms present in the translation, but they are not too annoying. A subtitle stream is provided for the Director's commentary, contained in a large black box that blocks out the burned in titles and the surrounding image.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9 format). The layer transition is placed during the feature at 92:20 in a silent fade to black between chapters twelve and thirteen.

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

Audio

    There are three soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD, all in the film's native Spanish. The default soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), partnered by a stereo equivalent (192Kb/s). A Director's commentary is also included, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to the default soundtrack and commentary for this review and sampled the stereo soundtrack on a couple of occasions. It's worth noting that this film was presented theatrically with Dolby Digital EX and dts soundtracks.

    The Spanish dialogue sounds clear and although I do not speak a lot of the language the emotion contained in the spoken word is easy to follow. The ADR is completely seamless and natural. Audio sync is faultless.

    The surround channels are used subtly for atmosphere so as to envelop the viewer gently without drawing attention. At 41:08 the score can be heard in the rears, while effects such as wind and rain can be heard on occasion. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel throughout the soundtrack.

    The Dolby Digital 2.0 stream contains no surround flag for Pro Logic processing. I enabled Pro Logic manually and didn't find this soundtrack remotely comparable to the 5.1 mix. Personally, I would prefer an increased video bitrate as opposed to a stereo rendition of the soundtrack. After all, I doubt many people will even bother manually selecting it.

    The score by Director Alejandro Amenabar has a very Gaelic feel that suits the free spirit of the film. Accompanying his own compositions are other more familiar works such as Nessun Dorma, and instantly recognisable pieces from Mozart and Wagner.

    The LFE channel is used primarily to augment the score, although it can be clearly heard at 91:50 with the loud, mechanical printing press. There isn't a lot of call for low frequency effects in this film to be honest.

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

Extras

    This is a fantastic selection of extras.

Menu Animation & Audio

    The main menu page is animated with a montage of stills from the film, accompanied by a clip from the score. A New Line logo is present, which I presume links to promotional trailers on the Region 1 rendition of this disc.

Audio Commentary-Alejandro Amenabar (Writer, Director, Composer)

    Alejandro Amenabar admits early in this commentary that he may repeat details that are covered in the documentary, but he manages to provide plenty of additional insight regardless. He discusses his flexibility regarding the script and his encouraging the actors to improvise on set. The subject of dramatic license is raised on many occasions as he compares the story on screen with the actual events. As he points out, if it were to be absolutely faithful to real events he may as well make a documentary rather than a film. This is really an above average commentary and is certainly worth taking the time to experience.

    This Spanish language commentary is presented with an English subtitle stream that activates automatically when selected from the extras menu. In order to avoid confusion and overlap with the burned-in English subtitles for the main soundtrack, the commentary subtitles are contained in a black bar that occupies a large portion of the frame. This unfortunately obscures some of the action on screen, but is really the only way of getting around the burned-in subtitles.

Deleted & Alternate Scenes

    There's three additional scenes here, presented without 16x9 enhancement. These include English subtitles and are playable individually or via a play all function.

Documentary- A Trip To The Sea Inside (84:25)

    This is an in-depth analysis of the making of this film, from the first draft of the script to production design, casting, location scouting, sound design, effects and final editing. Included are interviews and contributions from many cast and crew involved in the film's production, and of particular interest are some short glimpses of the real Ramon in his bed speaking to the media. Javier Bardem immersed himself in this role by visiting a hospital and working with nurses to achieve the most realistic performance of a Quadriplegic he could, even going to the extent of learning to write with his mouth. This documentary is presented in 1.33:1 (full frame), in Spanish language with English subtitles.

Gallery-Photo (32)

    A series of stills taken during production, including the photos seen during Ramon's montage.

Gallery-Storyboard (32)

    In the commentary, Amenabar mentions that only one scene was storyboarded; this being Ramon's fateful dive. The frames are viewable here, although they don't seem to flow in order somehow.

Gallery-Set Design (17)

    Some interesting colour drawings, showing the set design process.

Theatrical Trailer (1:57)

    This is a fairly stock-standard trailer, presented in 1.85:1, and letterboxed without 16x9 enhancement. Some English subtitles are burned into the video stream.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 release appears to be identical to ours as far as extras are concerned, however their video transfer does not contain burned-in English subtitles. Region 1 also has two additional trailers; A Very Long Engagement and Vera Drake. The Region 2 UK release also appears to be identical in features to the Region 4 disc.

    Some other Region 2 European releases spread the content over two discs and include a dts audio option. A two disc edition with optional English subtitles on both the film and commentary would be ideal, however the status of the European releases is unclear.

    As far as this Region 4 package is concerned, it is at least one rare case of the new OFLC rating classification actually matching the intended cover art. It still doesn't make me like them any more, though. If you're multi-region capable I would advise you to shop around for this one.

Summary

    Mar Adentro is a humane and emotionally stirring portrait that benefits highly from exemplary performances and memorable direction. Although the subject matter is dark, the film is equally a celebration of life and perhaps doesn't entirely deserve the controversial tags it has earned. I recommend you make the time to see it.

    The video transfer is good, however the presence of a burned-in English subtitle stream complicates the need for commentary subtitles.

    The audio transfer is comprised of a subtle but effective surround mix.

    The extras are extensive, entertaining and pertinent to the film.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Saturday, October 15, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using DVI output
DisplaySanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
R1 does not have burnt-in subtitles - Anonymous REPLY POSTED