Tranceformer: A Portrait of Lars von Trier (1997)

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Released 3-Apr-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 51:44
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Stig Björkman

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Lars von Trier
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Danish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    "I'll gladly assert that everything said or written of me is a lie"... Lars von Trier.

    Danish filmmaker, Lars von Trier may not exactly be a household name to those with mainstream tastes in cinema, but in the world of European cinema, von Trier has long been respected for his rebellious and often controversial attitude towards filmmaking. Although not always popular with critics and audiences alike, there is no denying the courageous attitude he applies to his craft.

    This rather short documentary was made in 1997 by Stig Björkman. It examines the life of Lars von Trier from his early childhood years experimenting with a small-gauge camera, through to current day (1997) and his filmography to that point. Films such as, The Element Of Crime (1984), Epidemic (1987), Europa (1991), the made for Danish TV horror mini series, The Kingdom (1994) and one of his finest films to date, Breaking The Waves (1996) are covered.

     Tranceformer - A Portrait of Lars von Trier features interviews with many of von Trier's friends and colleagues, with considerable input from the man himself. Naturally, there is also significant film footage from many of the aforementioned films to emphasize points of discussion. This includes some humorous behind-the-scenes footage from the production of Breaking The Waves.

    Although not totally comprehensive, Tranceformer - A Portrait of Lars von Trier is worthwhile viewing for admirers of the films of this audacious and controversial filmmaker. The film is presented as the third film in the Lars von Trier Collection and is not available for purchase separately.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer for Tranceformer - A Portrait of Lars von Trier is reasonably good.

    The film is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1, which is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The degree of sharpness and clarity varies due to the many different film segments that are incorporated into the documentary. Most of this footage is grainy, which is consistent with the original source material of these films in any case. Concentrating on the interview footage, this exhibited no problems and displayed a decent level of sharpness. Blacks were also fine and shadow detail was satisfactory.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noticed. Film-to-video artefacts were negligible. The most noticeable issue was two very brief instances of reel change markings at approximate twenty-minute intervals. Film artefacts were not a problem.

    I found no significant problems with colour.

    English subtitles are burnt into the print. They are in white and are easily legible.

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

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


    The audio transfer is basic, but perfectly acceptable.

    There is only one audio track available on the DVD, Danish Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    There are a few passages of English dialogue spoken during the documentary. These were all clear and easy to understand.

    I found no adverse problems with audio sync.

    The only music to be heard in the documentary is at the end of the film, over the closing credits. This unknown music is also un-credited.

    With the use of Pro-Logic, the surround channels came to life during a couple of the highlighted film passages. Otherwise, they were inactive.

    The subwoofer remained quiet throughout the documentary.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras on this DVD.


    The menu is static, 16x9 enhanced and features a sample of the music used in the film.

R4 vs R1

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

     The fact that Tranceformer - A Portrait of Lars von Trier is only available in this country as part of the Lars von Trier Collection, appears to be consistent with most other regions also.

     The film is available in R1, but only as one of the many films in The Element of Crime - Criterion Collection and The Criterion Collection Gift Set 2004.

    However, the R2 version of The Kingdom features Tranceformer - A Portrait of Lars von Trier as a special feature on the DVD.


    With a running time of just under fifty-two minutes, Tranceformer - A Portrait of Lars von Trier is a bit too short to give a fully comprehensive study into the life and films of Lars von Trier. The fact that this film is now ten years old also restricts the amount of up-to-date information available in terms of his more recent work. However, the documentary is still an interesting piece and is certainly a worthy inclusion in the Lars von Trier Collection.

    The transfers are both reasonably good.

    There are no extras on this DVD.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
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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