The Libertine (2004)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 28-Nov-2006

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Introduction
Audio Commentary-Director Laurence Dunmore
Theatrical Trailer
Deleted Scenes-(9) +/- Director Commentary
Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 109:24 (Case: 114)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (74:32) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Laurence Dunmore
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Johnny Depp
Paul Ritter
Samantha Morton
John Malkovich
Stanley Townsend
Francesca Annis
Rosamund Pike
Tom Hollander
Johnny Vegas
Richard Coyle
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $37.95 Music Michael Nyman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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 Yes, of many varieties.
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    "Elizabeth had her Shakespeare, you can be mine." -King Charles II to John Wilmot, The Second Earl of Rochester.

    The Libertine traces the latter life of John Wilmot (Johnny Depp), the Earl of Rochester in 17th Century England. Besides being somewhat known as a drunkard and a womaniser, Wilmot was also a respected poet and a proud patron of the arts, specifically the theatre. While the film is unashamedly graphic and confronting on a number of levels, it is also a very entertaining portrait of a man who quite literally p***** his formal title up the wall.

    We meet The Earl of Rochester as he is returning from a three-month stay in the country, banished from London by King Charles II (John Malkovich) for composing a lurid and disrespectful poem. Once in London, Wilmot's attention is quickly lured by an underrated actress at the theatre, Lizzy Barry (Samantha Morton). Wilmot sees Barry as an unpolished diamond, and despite discouraging comments from his friends he goes about encouraging her talents in preparation for her impending role in Shakespeare's Ophelia. Lizzy is initially suspicious of his intentions, which is hardly surprising considering most actresses in that time also doubled as prostitutes. But, in time she succumbs and her talents are appreciated by all, making her quite famous.

    King Charles II is fond of Wilmot and tries repeatedly to help him find a direction in life, but to no avail. First, Charles invites Wilmot to join the House of Lords so that he might be a positive influence on the future of England, but this never eventuates once he is distracted by Lizzy. Later, Charles commissions a play from Wilmot that will impress some visiting French dignitaries. To monitor Wilmot's progress, Charles hires Lizzy as an informant- a role from which she profits greatly. The resulting play is a shocking piece of work and ribald to the extreme, solely intent on embarrassing the monarchy in front of the French visitors. A warrant is placed on his head immediately and he successfully evades capture for six months. By the time he is finally captured he is a diseased and disfigured alcoholic, but Wilmot finds strength within himself to crawl from his death bed and address the house of lords, saving the monarchy from a potentially damaging bill.

    Wilmot's story is one of self-betrayal, squandered talents and unrealised potential. Had he have focused himself and applied his pen to good writing, he may well have been the next Shakespeare. But unfortunately, a lifestyle of excess and debauchery nullified any of these potentials. Highlighted by an amazing cast and incredible performances, The Libertine is ultimately a sad journey. Having said that, there are also a great deal of laughs and surprises along the way, enough to make this more than worthwhile viewing.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.30:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This appears to be relatively close to the film's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio.

    As I will explain further below, the film contains a level of grain that prevents it from being especially sharp. That said, the film is well lit and contains plenty of depth. Shadow detail is great and blacks are strong when they need to be.

    The film has a very muted colour scheme, in fact there are absolutely no examples of bold colouring to be found. The production was lit using natural light such as candles, which lends a sepia, sometimes jaundiced look to the finished product.

    MPEG artefacting is surprisingly well controlled, considering the rather flimsy video bitrate (6Mb/s, variable). I didn't note any film artefacts at all, however the film is permeated by a consistent wash of dense film grain. The grain is so substantial that it renders some of the film's small titles (such as in the opening sequence) difficult to read.

    An English subtitle stream is provided and is comprised of a bold white font that is easy to read.

    This disc is dual layered, with the layer transition placed during the feature at 74:32. This is an ideal position, being a fade to black between scenes.

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

Audio

    There are three soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD. The default soundtrack is the film's original English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s). An alternate English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (224Kb/s) option is available, as well as an Audio Commentary by the Director.

    The English dialogue is crystal clear and distinct at all times. I didn't notice any problems relating to the film's ADR process, and audio sync seems to be absolutely perfect .

    Much of the film's default soundtrack is situated across the front soundstage, with voices usually occupying the front centre channel. The rear channels only carry the score on a few occasions.

    I personally don't see the point of the stereo option. It is mastered a little quieter than the default soundtrack and did not respond favourably to Pro Logic processing.

    The score by Michael Nyman is orchestral and surprisingly moving in places. While the score manages to mirror the style of the period, the film's final scenes adopt a new path with an uplifting piece accompanied by a choir. The film's closing moments are made quite memorable with this accompaniment.

    The subwoofer doesn't appear to be utilised to a great degree.

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

Extras

Menu

    The main menu page is static, 16x9 enhanced and preceded by a short animated intro. An audio clip from the film's score loops in the background.

Theatrical Trailer (1:51)

    This is a good summation of the film that doesn't give away too much.

Deleted Scenes (18:17)

    There are nine scenes in total, playable with or without a commentary by Director Laurence Dunmore. A play all function is supplied and these scenes are not 16x9 enhanced. There are some good explanations from the director as to why they were removed, however some merely serve as extended versions of various scenes.

Audio Commentary- Laurence Dunmore (Director)

    Dunmore discusses his collaborative approach with the cast and explains a little of the Earl's back story. There's some good information to be found here, particularly regarding the film's production, however I can't help feeling that a broader Documentary based on Wilmott would have been a more fitting inclusion.

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 disc includes an additional Making-Of Featurette, Capturing The Libertine (36:00).

Summary

    The Libertine is both an entertaining and touching portrait of The Second Earl of Rochester.

    The video transfer is grainy and otherwise simple.

    The audio transfer is similarly straightforward.

    The extras are interesting, but give little information about the real man on which the film is based.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
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.

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE