The Thief (Vor) (1997)
Trailer-Europa Europa; My Life as a Dog; Cinema Paradiso
|Year Of Production||1997|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Pavel Chukhraj|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English-American (Burned In)||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Thief is a Russian-French co-production, Written and Directed by Pavel Chukhrai. It was very well received upon release in 1997, with best foreign film nominations in both the Golden Globes and the Oscars.
Set in 1952, six-year-old Sanja (Misha Philipchuk) has led a troubled life, one that began by being born without a father, in the mud, on the side of a road. He and his Mother, Katja (Ekaterina Rednikova), are on a train to nowhere when they meet Tolyan (Vladimir Mashkov), a soldier in a very smart uniform. The naive Katja is swept off her feet, and after a quickie in the passenger compartment they depart at Tolyan's stop as a family. They rent an apartment and all is going peachy until Sanja and Tolyan begin to clash. Sanja refuses to acknowledge Tolyan as his father and has been neglected by his Mum since Tolyan came on the scene. He often finds himself locked out in the corridor while his Mum and her lover are inside getting to know one another a bit better. Tolyan eases the tension by buying gifts, then food, followed by an entire banquet for the occupants of their building, and Circus tickets for everyone! Must've been a good payday? But no, Katja is suspicious. How is Tolyan affording all this stuff?
Katja and Sanja find themselves accomplices to theft, unwittingly at first, but although she openly disagrees with his crimes she is unable to leave. Soon, Tolyan begins to involve the boy in his escapades, with unfortunate results.
This is a gorgeous film, with amazing performances, particularly from young Philipchuk as the boy. Rednikova is stunningly beautiful and entirely believable as his mother. The cinematography by Vladimir Klimov is fluid and dream-like. I couldn't speak any more highly of this film, you'll just have to see it for yourself.
This is an average video transfer. The image is not particularly sharp, in fact it resembles an analogue source, judging by the poor resolution. The film is presented in a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, which I suspect is an open matte transfer. Some sites list this film as having been screened theatrically in 1.85:1.
The picture is clear and watchable for the most part, but shadow detail is lacking. Some dark scenes are a mess of black shapes, moving about on the screen. The overall look of the film is bleak, with washed out colouring and little to no bright scenes.
Compression artefacting is visible most of the time, usually in the form of noise, occupying any expanse of a single colour. MPEG grain is also common, along with noise and haloing around the burned-in subtitles. With a paltry variable bitrate averaging 4.9Mb/s, this is hardly surprising. Film artefacts are present, but are nothing too dire. Just a few specs of dirt here and there, most visible during slow-motion sequences. I noted a few moments of mild telecine wobble.
English subtitles are burned into the video stream and cannot be removed. They contain some Americanisms, but are generally easy to read. The font is white with a black outline.
This disc is single layered (DVD5 format).
There is only one soundtrack; the film's original Russian language presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). There is no panning or activity that I could notice, so it may be a mono soundtrack for all intents and purposes.
The dialogue is always distinct in the soundtrack, and appears to be in perfect sync. The ADR seems a little too clean at times, even unnaturally so.
There are no issues with the soundtrack quality, in terms of hiss or damage. All of the location audio is clear and easy to discern.
The orchestral score by Vladimir Dashkevich suits the sentiment of the film superbly.
There is obviously no subwoofer or surround activity to report.
|Surround Channel Use|
The US trailer, complete with cheesy voiceover.
Trailers are included for Europa Europa, My Life as a Dog, Cinema Paradiso and Fitzcarraldo.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
It's hard to make a call on this without having seen the transfer, so I would suggest you shop around.
The video transfer is average.
The audio transfer does the job.
The extras are limited to a few trailers.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo 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 Decoder||Built into amplifier. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-3806 (via Denon Link 3)|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|