Twentynine Palms (2003)

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Released 8-Aug-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 114:09 (Case: 119)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Audio Format Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bruno Dumont
Accent Film Entertainment Starring Yekaterina Golubeva
David Wissak
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.30:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Twentynine Palms is the third film from emerging French director Bruno Dumont. Bruno's two previous films, Vie de Jésus, La in 1997 and Humanité, L' in 1999, were generally well received by critics and audiences, with Humanité, L' winning the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 1999. The reaction to Twentynine Palms though, was much more diverse and cautious. This is clearly a film that will divide audience opinion, but that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing.

    An American magazine photographer and his insecure Russian girlfriend drift through the Californian desert looking for photo shooting locations. David (David Wissak) and Katia (Yekaterina Golubeva ) rent a motel room in Twentynine Palms, which provides a base for their endless days of desert location scouting.

    David and Katia's volatile relationship sets the platform for the entire film. Katia is prone to fits of rage over insignificant issues and while this obviously frustrates David, he is generally the one to provide the concessions to resolve the situation. David speaks mainly in English and Katia in French, although the dialogue in the film is often quite sparse.

    Twentynine Palms has a minimal plot. David and Katia spend their days driving through the desert arguing about trivial issues, which inevitably ends with them having passionate sex. Their isolation in the barren landscape begins to drive emotions to primal levels, both verbally and sexually. The arguing and intensity of their sexual acts become increasingly more violent in nature.

    The beguiling beauty and isolation of the desert also camouflages a sinister and perilous element lurking on the horizon. This and the small, seemingly unimportant instances within their relationship will eventually reveal violent and tragic consequences.

    Twentynine Palms is unlikely to win over many lovers of mainstream cinema. Bruno Dumont's bold and largely experimental film requires considerable patience for its almost two hour length. Many may also question the final scene of brutal violence, which tends to denigrate rather than shock.

    The film has many positive attributes though, including the wonderful lingering cinematography from Georges Lechaptois, which heightens the haunting beauty of the Mojave Desert landscape with the primitive and powerful eroticism.

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Transfer Quality


    The transfer for Twentynine Palms is excellent.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.30:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The film's correct aspect ratio is 2.35:1.

    The transfer exhibits a wonderful level of sharpness and clarity. Blacks were clean, deep and free from low level noise. Shadow detail was also outstanding and displayed a high degree of detail.

    The colour palette was very earthy and subdued, with only a few splashes of vibrant colour. Colours were perfectly natural and very well balanced.

    There were no MPEG artefacts evident in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were insignificant. Some very minor examples of edge enhancement were occasionally noticed on power poles and palm trees, but this is being pedantic. Film artefacts were not evident.

    English subtitles are available on this DVD. They were easily legible in bold yellow, but were only sighted during the spoken French dialogue.

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

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


    The audio transfer is perfectly adequate and well suited to the content of the film.

    There is one audio track on this DVD. The film consists of English and French in an approximate fifty-fifty mix. The audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s), which is surround encoded.

    Dialogue quality is generally good, although the mix of French and English was a little frustrating at times. Occasionally, some individual words were problematic in comprehension, but I think this was more a diction problem than a transfer issue.

    Audio sync appeared to be very accurate.

    There is no original music credited in Twentynine Palms. There are three pieces of music credited in the closing credits. Two of these pieces come from Takashi Hirayasu and Bob Brozman, which are light and whimsical in nature. The other piece is from classical composer J. S. Bach.

    The surrounds were used to subtle effect, with no significant directional sound placement.

    The subwoofer was reasonably active, but really only came to life during driving scenes, enhancing the low rumble of engine and road noise.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Unfortunately, there are no significant extras on this DVD.


    The main menu features some very subtle animation, is 16x9 enhanced and also features a looped sample of music used in the film.

Original Theatrical Trailer

    Twentynine Palms (1:07)

Directors Comments

    Five pages of text based information relating to Bruno Dumont's thoughts on the film.

Accent Trailers

R4 vs R1

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

    I will compare this local, all region version with the Wellspring R1 version, released on September 21st 2004.

    Both versions are presented in the same aspect ratio. The R1 version features the same Dolby Digital 2.0 audio option, but has the addition of a 5.1 audio track. The R1 version features the same original trailer and director's notes as the local version, but also includes a brief ten-minute interview with Bruno Dumont . Both versions include trailers of other films relating to the particular distributor.

    There is also an R2 version available that features a couple of relevant extras, including a Making Of Documentary (34:16), Interview With The Producer (21:30) and Poster Concepts.

    Due to the nature of the film, I don't believe Twentynine Palms would significantly benefit from a 5.1 audio track. The director's interview featured on the R1 version also seems to be rather light on. Unless you have a particular passion for this film, I would stick with the local all region version simply for the sake of convenience. However, if you must track down an alternate version, I would possibly seek out the R2 version for the aforementioned extras.


    As previously mentioned, Twentynine Palms is sure to draw mixed reactions from its audience. Personally, I believe that although the film has its flaws, there is certainly enough in Twentynine Palms to suggest that you see it for yourself and make your own judgements.

    The video transfer is quite impressive.

    The audio transfer is perfectly adequate and well suited to the content of the film.

    The extras are minimal and basic.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Friday, June 16, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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