Head in the Clouds (2004)

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Released 19-Sep-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Dolby Digital Trailer
Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Being Julia, Riding Giants, Zhou Yu's Train
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 116:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:23) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Duigan

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Charlize Theron
Penélope Cruz
Stuart Townsend
Thomas Kretschmann
Steven Berkoff
David La Haye
Karine Vanasse
Gabriel Hogan
Peter Cockett
Élizabeth Chouvalidzé
Jolyane Langlois
Sophie Desmarais
Éloïsa Laflamme-Cervantes
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Terry Frewer

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/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
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    This film is a sweeping romantic drama set against the backdrop of a world heading towards (and engaged in) the Second World War. It was directed by English-born Australian director John Duigan, known for projects such as the Vietnam mini-series, The Year My Voice Broke, Lawn Dogs and others. It was made in 2004, mostly in Canada but also in Cambridge, England and Paris.

    The plot involves the relationship of three young and very different people between 1933 and 1944. The film starts with the surprise meeting of two of the main characters; Gilda Besse (Charlize Theron), a wealthy, hedonistic, apolitical heiress who only lives to enjoy herself and Guy Malyon (Stuart Townshend), an unsophisticated, poor and idealistic Irishman. They meet as Gilda crashes into his rooms at Cambridge, late at night, trying to avoid the porter who suspects that a woman has been sneaking in to see one of the dons. They have a brief fling after this but soon she heads off to travel, leaving him heartbroken. He becomes a teacher and some years later he receives a letter from her suggesting that he come and visit her in Paris, where she now lives. Eventually after some drama he moves to Paris as her photographer's assistant just to be near her, where he meets her roommate and lover, Mia (Penelope Cruz), a Spanish model/stripper who is training to become a nurse and walks with a limp. As time passes, they form a close 3 way relationship which is then broken by Guy & Mia's decision to go to Spain to fight in the civil war against the fascists. Gilda, devastated by them leaving, refuses to have anything to do with them and stays in Paris, even after the German invasion. I cannot tell you much more without spoiling the story.

    I found this film entertaining and reasonably interesting but it certainly did not set the house on fire. The acting is strong, especially from the female leads, although Townshend does not disgrace himself either.

    The movie gets better in the second half, with the first half seeming a little overlong. The only other real criticism I have of the production is that the Paris street set which is used a lot in the film is obviously just that, a set. The backdrops are just not believable enough, which I found slightly off-putting.

    There are certainly better films about love during war such as The English Patient but if you enjoy romantic dramas this one is worth a rental.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good, and bordering on excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was excellent. There was some light background grain throughout.

    The colour was wonderful, rich and solid throughout.

    The only noticeable artefact was mild aliasing such as at 32:41 on a waistcoat, 62:18 on a blanket, 70:58 on a shirt and 74:01 on a radio.

    There are subtitles in English and English for the hearing impaired plus Hindi. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read and translate French dialogue into English. There is no translation without the subtitles turned on.

    The layer change occurs at 69:23 and was not noticeable.

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


    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync. Penelope Cruz was sometimes a little difficult to understand however this would be a source rather than a transfer issue.

    The score of this film by Terry Frewer is quite good, and consists of mostly instrumental or French popular music of the period. A scene at a club (36:00) with someone playing Django Reinhardt included some excellent guitar-based jazz.

    The surround speakers were not used too much except during the war sequences in the second half of the film, such as at 74:40.

    The subwoofer was nicely integrated and added bass to music and the occasional explosion.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    A very simple and still menu is included which allows access to scenes and subtitle options.

Making of Head in the Clouds (9:19)

    This is a pretty standard promotional featurette including interviews with the director and major cast members talking about the film and the characters. Nothing to get excited about. Presented 4x3.

Theatrical Trailer (2:12)

    Oh wow! A misleading trailer with an annoying voiceover - just what I always wanted.


    Trailers are included for Being Julia, Riding Giants & Zhou Yu's Train.

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 version of this film is the same except for PAL/NTSC differences.


    A decent but not great sweeping romantic drama set before and during World War 2.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The only real extra is a promotional featurette.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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