The Queen of Sheba's Pearls (2004)

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Released 21-Feb-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 116:40
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (76:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Colin Nutley
Studio
Distributor
Svensk Filmindustri
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Helena Bergström
Rolf Lassgård
Peter Vaughan
Eileen Atkins
Lorcan Cranitch
Lindsay Duncan
Tim Dutton
Natasha Little
Elizabeth Spriggs
Rollo Weeks
Marc Pickering
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Per Andréasson


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.20:1
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

    The Queen of Sheba's Pearls is a Swedish production, directed by an English director who works in Sweden, set in England and starring the director's wife, a Swedish actress. It was made in English, so there are no mandatory subtitles to contend with. It was made in 2004 and is an independent art house style movie.

    The plot involves an English family who moved to the country to avoid the blitz during World War II and ended up staying, sharing a house with the local vicar. The family consists of Laura Pretty (Elizabeth Spriggs), the elderly matriarch of the family, her three daughters, Peggy, Audrey & Emma (Helena Bergstrom, the director's wife), Emma's son Jack (Rollo Weeks) and his father Harry Bradley (Lorcan Cranitch) and Laura's brother-in-law, Edward (brother of her dead husband). Edward is a funeral director and Harry works for him. Emma sends Jack on ahead by train to join the family and before he arrives she is killed during an air-raid.

    Eight years later, on the anniversary of Emma's death, a Swedish woman arrives at the family house unannounced who bears an uncanny resemblance to Emma. She asks for Laura by name and her true identity is slowly revealed having many effects on the individuals and the dysfunctional family as a whole. To tell you much more would give away critical plot points. The title refers to a game played by Jack and some of his friends which is basically an excuse for teenagers to touch each other.

    The is a moderately entertaining family relationship drama with some black comedy elements. The film starts slowly and did not fully capture my attention until the second half. There are many intertwined story lines involving the cast of characters including some romance. Particularly early on, the story is difficult to follow and the required exposition to explain who the characters are is not included. As the story progresses these relationships become clearer. It could certainly be argued that this was the intent, allowing for a degree of mystery in the plot, although I believe this could still have been achieved whilst explaining more clearly who the main players are, with the exception of the new arrival.

    Stylistically, this film is quite minimalist. Certainly this is the case in its lighting approach which seems to mostly consist of whatever natural light was available. Although this gives a very 'fly-on-the-wall' feel it also makes some scenes quite murky.

    A moderately interesting character drama but not an essential one.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good.

    The feature is presented in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is reasonably close to the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was quite average, probably mostly driven by the lighting choices as mentioned above.

    The colour was very good with no major issues to report. The first 16 minutes or so of the film, set during World War II, seem to employ a sepia filter.

    There are no noticeable artefacts.

    There are no subtitle streams, however occasional lines of Swedish dialogue are translated to English via burned-in subtitles..

    The layer change occurs at 76:00 and causes a slight pause.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good but very front and centre focused.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s. Both tracks are quite similar, as despite the encoding the 5.1 track features very little in the way of surround or subwoofer activity.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Per Andreasson is good quality classical style instrumental music, which adds emotion to the film.

    The surround speakers were only used for some mild atmosphere. I did not notice any specific directional effects but that is consistent with the style of film.

    The subwoofer added bass to the music as required but had little else to do.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu is very simple allowing for audio and scene selection options.

Theatrical Trailer (1:56)

    Pretty standard trailer with nothing much to recommend it.

R4 vs R1

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

    I cannot find any evidence of this film being available in other regions at this stage.

Summary

    A moderately interesting character drama about an English family in the 1950s.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The only extra is a theatrical trailer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, March 24, 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
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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