Walk on Water (2004)

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Released 29-Mar-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-With Lior Ashkenazi
Featurette-Cinderella Rockeffela Video Clip
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Three Dollars, 2046, Exils, Narco, Brush Off, Stiff
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 103:04
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Eytan Fox
Studio
Distributor
Israel Film Fund
Madman Entertainment
Starring Lior Ashkenazi
Knut Berger
Caroline Peters
Gideon Shemer
Carola Regnier
Hanns Zischler
Ernest Lenart
Eyal Rozales
Yousef 'Joe' Sweid
Imad Jabarin
Sivan Sasson
Natali Shilman
Hugo Yarden
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Ivri Lider


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Eyal (Lior Ashkenazi) is a gun agent with Israel's secret service agency Mossad who, fresh from the successful assassination of a senior Hamas leader is thrown into personal turmoil with the suicide of his young wife. When he refuses an offer of counselling, he is placed on an easy assignment that he considers a waste of time and energy, but his boss Menachem (Gidon Shemer) feels will give Eyal a chance to recover. Despite the seeming trivial nature of the assignment Menachem does consider this job very important. He has suspicions that Alfred Himmelman, a senior Nazi during World War II and wanted war criminal, is still alive and just ripe for Mossad to finally bring to justice. Himmelman is said to be living in seclusion somewhere in Argentina, but his descendants are still in Germany and his granddaughter Pia (Carolina Peters) is said to be living on an Israeli Kibbutz. Sensing a chance, Menachem sends Eyal to pose as a tour guide when he learns that Pia's brother Axel (Knut Berger) is making a visit to his sister at her Israeli home. Axel has been sent to Israel in an effort to convince Pia to return to Germany for their father's 70th birthday. Pia left Germany a couple of years prior, vowing never to return, when she discovered her family's disturbing history. Eyal is charged with getting to know the siblings in an effort to discover if their grandfather is still alive and exactly where Mossad can find him.

    Somewhat reluctantly at first, Eyal meets the two Germans and while spying on them slowly befriends them. As he shows young Axel around the tiny Jewish nation from north to south from Tel Aviv to the Palestinian territory, he struggles with some of his own prejudices and personal demons. While he takes an instant dislike to the young German's naive ways (he can barely hide his disgust when Axel ponders the motives behind a suicide bomber's attack), he slowly warms to his new friend. As they get to know each other, the conflicting ideologies of their vastly different upbringings coupled to the always on edge surroundings of modern Israel lead them to ponder many a weighty issue. Once Eyal finally confirms that Himmelman is still alive and Mossad closes in, Pia, Axel and most importantly the trained assassin Eyal will be forced to make decisions that will alter their lives forever.

    This is an amazingly intricate film, with a multi-layered plot that could easily be incredibly confusing but is delivered with such surprising clarity of thought it is almost startling. There are some fairly monumental and ancient ideological problems on offer here with life-long family guilt joining issues of homosexuality, intolerance and racism, sandwiched against a backdrop of the never-ending simmering tensions between the Jews, the Arabs, and the lingering effects the atrocities of World War II have on the Germans of today. Heavy stuff indeed, but Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox takes control from the outset, crafting a film that is magnificently shot and one that does not espouse a point of view but places a balanced hand on all sides, leading the audience to understand the struggles that all sides face every day of their lives and to engage with all the characters instantly.

    An intelligent, thought-provoking film from Israel that deserves to be seen by a wide audience.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    A recent film deserves a decent video transfer and thankfully this is the case here. It is excellent.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this is the same as the original theatrical ratio. The transfer is also 16x9 enhanced.

    This is a really sharp looking transfer that while quite cold and grey is filled with plenty of fine detail. Things get a little grainy on some of the wider angle shots in locations such as the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee, but overall this is an excellent effort.

     The colours are probably the hardest thing to judge since the whole thing is grim and grey most of the time. There is little vibrancy or boldness in any of the colours, so much of the film takes on a certain sameness for much of the run time. It can also make things a little flat, though this is probably being a little harsh on what is a beautifully shot film that takes in much of the quite amazing Israeli landscape - something not seen in many films.

    There are no issues with compression while the film is free of virtually all film artefacts. It is clean and crisp, just how it should be.

    Subtitles in English are available, but they are only activated when the characters speak either German or Hebrew.

    The disc is dual layered, with the layer change occurring at 73:13.

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

Audio

        I just love packaging errors and this disc contains one of the funniest ones I have seen for some time. The back cover slick proudly claims the disc contains two soundtracks, one Dolby Digital 5.1 in English and another Dolby Digital 2.0 in Japanese. That latter track piqued my curiosity, as I wondered just what a Japanese soundtrack was doing on a Region 4 disc of a movie originating from Israel that contains dialogue in equal proportions in Hebrew, German and English. It didn't take long to work out this was actually an error and one that proves yet again that the people who produce the packaging should really pay closer attention and maybe watch a small portion of the film before making such claims. The setup submenu features the choice of the two languages on the disc, these both being in English in 5.1 surround and 2.0 stereo varieties. The error has been made by someone looking at the menu icons that should be used to select the soundtrack. For some strange reason they have been replaced by an icon of a handgun - a little misplaced if you really pay attention to the story. Originally these icons were simple white squares and the flag used indicating which track was selected is a small red circle - I think you get the connection as it looks remarkably like a Japanese Rising Sun flag at first glance, hence the claim the track is Japanese. As I said - a funny mistake.

        So what we do have here is a disc with two soundtracks. One is a Dolby Digital 5.1 effort encoded at the bitrate of 448 Kb/s. The other is a fairly basic Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at the bitrate of 224 Kb/s. These tracks both qualify as English tracks as even though there is probably equal amounts of Hebrew, German and English spoken in the film, the subtitles only appear for the non-English dialogue.

        While this is certainly a modern soundtrack that is clean, crisp and powerful when needed it is also a pretty front-heavy effort that makes little use of the surround channels. This lack of aggressive surround activity is not really missed, though, as the film does not feature many scenes that would utilise it anyway. There's not many action scenes, while those with plenty of dialogue are all handed very well.

        There is a real eclectic mix of music in the film, such as two versions of Buffalo Springfield's iconic anti-war song For What It's Worth. There are also a couple of Bruce Springsteen songs including a well recorded rendition of Tunnel Of Love, plus several contemporary and traditional Israeli songs.



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

Extras

Main Menu Audio

Featurette-Behind The Scenes

    An interesting behind-the-scenes featuring running for 23:01. Features star Lior Ashkenazi discussing the film plus plenty of behind-the-scenes action from the actual shoot. It is in Hebrew but contains English subtitles.

Music Video - Cinderella Rockeffela

    Running for 2:39, this is the music video to the slightly annoying novelty song Cinderella Rockeffela that features in the scene where Axel and Pia sing at the Kibbutz talent night.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is a trailer that sets up the story quite nicely, without giving away key plot elements. Runs for 1:39 and is presented full frame 1.33:1.

Trailer

    Bonus trailers for other Madman titles - Three Dollars, 2046, Exils, Narco, The Brush Off, Stiff plus the very annoying 0:48 anti-piracy advertisement.

R4 vs R1

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

    From the information I can gather the Region 1 disc is devoid of any extras so the Region 4 is a clear winner here. With my limited ability to understand Hebrew I think I can state that the Region 2 Israeli DVD is virtually the same as the Region 4 aside from our bonus Madman trailers. But with my Hebrew comprehension virtually non-existent, if anyone is able to confirm this for me I'd appreciate it.

Summary

    Walk On Water is an interesting, gripping and thought-provoking thriller that handles several extremely sensitive issues with an even-handedness and clarity that is quite striking. This film is a real credit to talented Israeli filmmaker Eytan Fox and the equally talented cast.

    The video quality is excellent, while the audio is quite front heavy and does not do justice to a 5.1 surround soundtrack.

    The extras are pretty light, with the only real value coming in the form of the behind-the-scenes featurette.

    Highly recommended and well worth a look.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, August 07, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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