Latcho Drom (1993)

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Released 11-Oct-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Early Summer; Play Time
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 98:39 (Case: 97)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tony Gatlif
Studio
Distributor
Madman
Madman Entertainment
Starring Tony Gatlif
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 Smoking Yes, probably herbal.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Latcho Drom, translated from the Romani language, means "have a safe journey". It is with this film Director Tony Gatlif successfully exposed Gypsy culture to the world. Something of a gypsy himself, Gatlif has made a career of musically-themed films that romanticise and elevate the nomadic culture, exposing the negative treatment such a lifestyle brings. Production of this film began in 1992, with a skeleton crew and an even smaller budget, as Gatlif set out on a journey from India to Romania, and through Hungary, Turkey, Egypt and Spain.

    From barren expanses of desert to busy marketplaces and restaurants, and even private homes, we're shown that people can dance to anything, even the beat of a hammer. Many of the musical pieces start simply and build to a great crescendo of rhythm. Visually, the film is as stunning as it is musically. Gatlif has captured the landscapes and beautiful traditional costumes with an eye for detail that adds to the richness of this experience.

    In addition to offering an insight into an intriguing nomadic lifestyle, Latcho Drom is a film that transcends religious barriers, though it is true that many are represented. Gatlif is celebrating music as a commonality between all humanity, not just as a means of worship. There are themes present in these pieces of music that can easily be found in the catalogue of any western rock band. Songs crying freedom, songs lamenting the loss of a loved one, and lyrics that call for political reform are all here.

    With such a broad range of cultures and characters at play, the array of instruments shown in the film is amazing. Beginning in India, we see a sitar accompanied by the dulcimer, sarangi, violin and oud. The piano accordion becomes common as the film leans toward Europe and a myriad of percussion instruments can be seen at any given time. My favourite scene includes a group of five guitars and an upright bass, playing to a statue in a small chapel.

    In my mind, Tony Gatlif's homage to gypsy life and music sits alongside Calle 54 and Buena Vista Social Club as not only a fascinating documentary, but an immensely entertaining musical experience.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Latcho Drom has been transferred in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.

    The overall image is sharp and clear, with no major issues of concern. There is a great deal of visible detail present, such as in the intricate jewellery and finely woven costumes. There is no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    The film is awash with rich colouring and deep, earthy tones. I didn't note any inconsistencies or faults in terms of colour rendering in this transfer.

    The transfer has been encoded with an impressive MPEG bitrate, held at a constant 8.4Mb/s. Film artefacts creep in here and there, but never extend beyond small specks of dust and dirt. I did notice some mild telecine wobble during the film's introduction, but that was brief and not too disruptive.

    An English subtitle stream is activated by default. The translation of the dialogue and song lyrics in the soundtrack is sporadic at best, in fact many lines of dialogue pass by without any translation at all. Admittedly, this is the kind of film that could be viewed easily without any translation, which is why it is nice that the stream is removable.

    This disc is dual layered (DVD9 formatted). The transition is placed during the feature, between chapters 7 and 8, at 52:12. The placement of the pause is not disruptive at all.

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

Audio

    There is only one soundtrack, presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (224Kb/s). This is the film's original audio, although an error in the disc authoring process has labelled it as English. The cover slick proudly lists a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (several times, in fact) but it is nowhere to be found.

    As far as stereo soundtracks go, this is a pretty good presentation. There is an adequate amount of depth and brightness to the audio, but I can't help feeling that a broader bitrate could have served the music better. Although much of the audio was recorded on location, some post production effects have been applied, such as echoes, reverb and other tools. The manipulation of the audio is tasteful and never out of place with the tone of the film in my opinion. I also attempted to process the audio with Pro Logic, but was not content with the result.

    I noted several moments during the film where the audio sync wavered a little, such as the hand claps at 82:00. Having said that, the audio sync is perfectly fine in other parts of the film, so I would be inclined to point the finger at a lapse in the editing room rather than the film's transfer to DVD.

    The subwoofer and surround channels are not utilised.

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

Extras

Menu

    The main menu is 16x9 enhanced and static aside from some subtle background animation. An audio clip from the film's soundtrack loops in the background.

Theatrical Trailer (2:01)

    This trailer, for the film's US release, is in very poor condition and presented without 16x9 enhancement.

Madman Trailers (2)

    Preceded by anti-piracy propaganda, the additional trailers include Early Summer (4:25) and Play Time (3:03). Both are subtitled in English.

R4 vs R1

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

    There doesn't appear to be a Region 1 version available at the moment.

    The Region 2 European release (NTSC format) includes the following additional extras:

    Being in NTSC format, we can be fairly certain that the Region 2 disc is pitch correct. This is vital for a music title in my opinion.

Summary

    Latcho Drom is a rewarding experience. If you're fond of world music it is certainly worth a look.

    The video transfer is great.

    The audio transfer is stereo only, and could have been given a broader bitrate. The cover slick lists a Dolby Digital 5.1 option, but it is not included.

    The extras amount to a couple of trailers.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Friday, December 22, 2006
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-3806 (via Denon Link 3)
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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