Overall | Breaking the Waves (1996) | The Idiots (Idioterne) (1998) | Tranceformer: A Portrait of Lars von Trier (1997)

Lars von Trier Collection (1996)

Lars von Trier Collection (1996)

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Released 3-Apr-2007

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Overall Package

    The Lars von Trier Collection represents only a very small sample of the cinematic achievements of this controversial Danish filmmaker. Two of von Trier's most well known films have been coupled with a documentary on his life and work.

    The first film in the collection is undoubtedly one of his best films to date, Breaking The Waves (1996). Featuring the multi-award winning, debut performance of Emily Watson, Breaking The Waves won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes in 1996 and also won numerous other awards the world over.

    The second film in this collection is much more divisive and repulsed as many people as it pleased. The Idiots (1998) was Lars von Trier's first contribution to the Dogma 95 movement and caused worldwide controversy with it's confronting treatment of a delicate subject.

    The third and final film in the collection is Tranceformer - A Portrait of Lars von Trier (1997). This fifty-two minute documentary examines the life and cinematic work of Lars von Trier.

    Breaking The Waves and The Idiots are both available for purchase seperately, however, Tranceformer - A Portrait of Lars von Trier is only available in this collection.

Whether you are already an admirer of Lars von Trier's films or you are keen to experience his films for the first time, this small collection is a worthy addition to your DVD library.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Friday, May 11, 2007
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Overall | Breaking the Waves (1996) | The Idiots (Idioterne) (1998) | Tranceformer: A Portrait of Lars von Trier (1997)

Breaking the Waves (1996)

Breaking the Waves (1996)

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Released 16-Mar-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Lars Von Trier (Director) And Anders Refn (Editor)
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Emily Watson's Casting, With Optional Commentary
Interviews-Cast-Adrian Rawlins (Actor)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 154:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lars von Trier
Studio
Distributor
Zentropa Ent.
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Emily Watson
Stellan Skarsgård
Katrin Cartlidge
Jean-Marc Barr
Adrian Rawlins
Jonathan Hackett
Sandra Voe
Udo Kier
Mikkel Gaup
Roef Ragas
Phil McCall
Robert Robertson
Desmond Reilly
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Ian Anderson
Johann Sebastian Bach
David Bentley


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.20:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Lars von Trier is perhaps the most famously controversial film director of recent times. His work is spare, often uncompromising and deliberately challenging to audiences reared mostly on cinema's answers to pudgy, rosy cheeked babies and apple pie. His political and social views are, if anything, starker still, often openly critical of Hollywood, and more broadly, the United States, which to date I believe he is still yet to visit. Born in Copenhagen and a student of the Danish Film School, he has worked in film and television, and is currently filming Manderlay with Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of Ron Howard, a companion piece to his earlier Dogville, a film I am yet to fully recover from seeing.

    Whilst he has been working since the 1970s, he did not become widely known internationally until the release of his 1996 film Breaking the Waves. It caused a sensation with its distinctive visual style, emotionally gut-wrenching story and powerful performances, particularly from Emily Watson, in what was her film debut. Much lauded by critics as a modern masterpiece, and included in many Top 10 Films of the 1990s lists, it was the first of three films that focussed on female protagonists, in this film's case a young woman, Bess (Watson), who lives in a remote, cloistered, staunchly Calvinist community on the coast of Scotland. She defies the wishes of the church leaders in marrying an 'outsider', Jan, a Swedish worker on an offshore oil rig (Stellan Skarsgard). Married life for the couple is somewhat unorthodox, certainly from the point of view of the community, but obviously full of love, both physical and emotional.

    What follows will have many people turning back to Apollo 13 or Bridget Jones' Diary, and indeed I must confess that the film's austerity and bleakness, even when depicting the most beautiful of human emotions, are extraordinarily draining emotionally. Jan is critically injured in an accident and is unable to be sexually intimate with his new bride. Bess, encouraged by her paralysed husband and coming reluctantly to believe she will be acting according to God's wishes, agrees to find such intimacy with other men, in the hope of vicariously continuing the sexual relationship she has with Jan and aiding his recovery. In such a town such acts are a terrible transgression, and Bess, when discovered, is thrown into the asylum. One wonders how such behaviour would be accepted in a less conservative community, but one would hope that the events that then transpire could be avoided, although one could argue that such a thought ignores the point of the characters', in particular Bess' actions.

    I will not reveal more, but suffice it to say that I needed a walk in the sunshine and some good conversation with friends after the film concluded. It is two and a half hours of unrelenting cinema - audacious to be sure, asking difficult questions about the nature of love and our perceptions of what is good and what is immoral, but not a film one could easily sit down to watch again in a hurry to further explore its meaning.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    It is always difficult to assess video transfers of such experimental films such as these. Breaking the Waves was short entirely on hand-held cameras, and as such, has a visceral, sometimes coarse look that is starkly different from the glossy perfection of Hollywood blockbusters. It is framed at approximately 2.20:1, with 16x9 enhancement.

    Sharpness levels and shadow detail are as good as one needs or should expect considering the visual style of the film.

    Colours are drained and convey all of the frigidity of the sometimes frighteningly bleak Scottish landscape.

    The film has a grainy look about it, but to quibble about compression artefacts seems beside the point.

    Film to video artefacts are not a major distraction, nor indeed are the occasional film artefacts - mostly specks of what seems like dirt and dust - one could argue that they add to the realism of the film.

    In sum, the transfer is faithful to what I believe to be the director's intentions, and one shouldn't ask for more than that.

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

Audio

    We have two audio options, both in English - one 5.1 Dolby Digital, the other a Dolby Stereo 2.0 track. Both more than adequately perform the job, although I found myself thinking the more centralised 2.0 track was more in keeping with the film's realism, although the 5.1 track doesn't add a whole lot.

    Dialogue is difficult to understand on occasions, but is well presented.

    Audio sync is fine.

    Audio distortions were not an issue.

    As mentioned, this film strives for austerity, meaning less is more, so the surrounds and subwoofer on both tracks stay quiet.

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

Extras

    The extras included are informative and quite diverse.

Audio commentary with von Trier and editor Anders Refn, interviewed by Dod Mantle

    This track is scene specific to a point where scenes not discussed are discarded. Thus, only thirty nine minutes of the film are dealt with. The speakers seem comfortable and offer a little interesting information, although von Trier, surprisingly, jokes a lot. Perhaps he doesn't like explaining his movies - maybe because he can't, completely anyway.

Promo clip from Cannes Film Festival and four deleted scenes with optional commentary from Lars von Trier and the Director of Photography Robby Muller

    These scenes are individually interesting - two are actually extended versions of scenes in the film, and in reasonable condition. Their inclusion if nothing else allows one to see how difficult editing a film of such complexity would be. Hats off to Anders Refn!

Emily Watson's casting with optional commentary

    A short two minute snippet dealing with the extraordinarily talented Watson, whose performance must be considered as one of the great debuts in cinema history.

Interview with Adrian Rawlins

    Two minute interview with the actor who filled a difficult role in Dr. Richardson. It is unfortunately far too short to offer much insight however.

Trailers

    Not just for Breaking the Waves but for other Umbrella releases, which is a cause of some annoyance for me. At least they don't automatically play before the menu loads like some recent releases from the major studios.

R4 vs R1

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

    From what I can gather the Region 1 release is not only censored, but inferior in terms of extras, video and audio quality to the All Region Danish release. So if you want a true version of the film - avoid Region 1.

    Compared to the Danish release, which forms part of a Lars von Trier Collection, we miss out on:

    The Danish release misses out on:

    Considering the likely difficulty in obtaining the Danish release, I would opt for this very good local release which misses out on very little, and picks up an extra English track.

Summary

    Hard hitting cinema.

    The video transfer seems faithful to the director's intentions.

    The audio suits the needs of the film perfectly.

    The extras are a nice addition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Scott Murray (Dont read my bio - it's terrible.)
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDYamaha DVR-S100, using Component output
DisplaySony 76cm Widescreen Trinitron TV. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DVR-S100 (built in)
SpeakersYamaha NX-S100S 5 speakers, Yamaha SW-S100 160W subwoofer

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Overall | Breaking the Waves (1996) | The Idiots (Idioterne) (1998) | Tranceformer: A Portrait of Lars von Trier (1997)

The Idiots (Idioterne) (1998)

The Idiots (Idioterne) (1998)

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Released 21-Apr-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Notes-Dogme Manifesto
Gallery-Stills
Filmographies-Crew-Lars Von Trier (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Breaking The Waves, Insomnia, Orlando
Trailer-The Draughtsman's Contract
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 109:32
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Lars von Trier
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Bodil Jørgensen
Jens Albinus
Anne Louise Hassing
Troels Lyby
Nikolaj Lie Kaas
Louise Mieritz
Henrik Prip
Luis Mesonero
Knud Romer Jørgensen
Trine Michelsen
Anne-Grethe Bjarup Riis
Paprika Steen
Erik Wedersøe
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None 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 1.33:1 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

A film by idiots, about idiots, for idiots.

    Controversial Danish film maker Lars Von Trier has a habit of making films that generally upset people. His last venture, Dancer In The Dark, was so emotionally traumatising and depressing that many found it very difficult to sit through. The Idiots (Idiotern) is just as painful to sit through, although for an entirely different reason.

    The plot of The Idiots is fairly straightforward. A spoilt brat living for free in his uncle's house under the pretext of arranging it for sale, Stoffer (Jens Albinus), invites a bunch of friends over to stay. Without any money to get by, Stoffer comes upon the idea of 'spazzing', i.e. pretending to be retarded, in order to avail themselves of society's generosity. What starts out as a joke quickly becomes a way of life for him and his commune as they try to 'get in touch with their inner idiot' by constantly spazzing. But when Stoffer inadvertently brings shy newcomer Karen (Bodil Jorgensen) into the group through a spazzing episode, nobody could have guessed the outcome.

    Is this film offensive? Extremely. And in a way that is far more shocking than your general attempt at shock tactics through either gore or pure vulgarity. However, its truly horrible quality is that at times you really don't know whether to be shocked, to cry or to laugh. Some moments are genuinely funny, particularly in the way that Stoffer and his cohorts parody and mock the false graciousness and understanding of the rich and important. But other moments are really quite horrible and sad in the way that, through their 'spazzing' adventures, these people send up the misfortune of others and prey on the genuine generosity of some.

    Do I like The Idiots? Not especially. Do I respect what filmmaker Lars Von Trier has done with the film? One cannot help but do so. By creating a collective of such loathsome and horrible human beings, and yet making us laugh at their exploits, and in turn be uncomfortable in our laughter, Von Trier reminds us of our own hypocrisy and the hypocrisy of the world at large when it comes to our compassions and our emotions. That is masterful film making, no matter how horrible The Idiots is to endure at times.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Presented here in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, this is unfortunately a letterboxed, non-16x9 enhanced, transfer. Apparently, though, the original aspect ratio is 1.33:1 so I’m not sure what to say about this.

    Given that this was filmed in accordance with Von Trier’s Dogme 95 Manifesto, this picture quality was never going to be fantastic. Essentially, the idea is that everything is real and nothing in the way of lighting, steady-cams and so forth are used.

    As a result, the picture is a touch grainy due to oversaturation to compensate for the lack of light used. Shadow detail is not fantastic, but it is not atrocious either.

    Colour is fairly well saturated, if you take into account any limitations of the source. This was, after all, filmed with a hand-held camera and not on Super 35 (it was filmed on Digital Betacam PAL video and transferred to film later).

    There were no MPEG artefacts, and film-to-video artefacts are hard to pick out given the nature of the original print, i.e. it was filmed on video and then transferred to film. I found no annoying aliasing or moire, though.

    There is a bit of dirt here, but again, this was not cleaned up with professional post-production work, and the dirt is all intended as part of the Dogme 95 charm.

    Subtitles are available in English only. They are white without a noticeable border, and sometimes a little difficult to read.

    According to the cover, this is a dual-layer DVD-9. However, I did not see a dual layer pause during the film and am informed that this is a single-layered disc.

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

Audio

    Audio is available in Danish 2.0 Dolby Digital Mono only.

    This film had a very limited source from which to make this DVD transfer, and so most of the limitations can be forgiven.

    Albeit in Danish, the dialogue was easy enough to hear. It’s hard to tell, though, because I was reading the subtitles the whole time.

    The dynamics of this track are unremarkable. There is no real score, and no surround information.

    There is no subwoofer use.

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

Extras

Menus

    All menus are presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. The main menu has a 2.0 Dolby Stereo audio track.

Dogme Manifesto

    6 stills recording the Dogme 95 manifesto – a rescue of cinema.

Stills Gallery

    27 stills from the film.

Filmography

    2 stills listing Lars Von Trier’s filmography.

Theatrical Trailer (1:36)

    Presented in 1.33:1 letterboxed, 2.0 Dolby Mono.

Umbrella Trailers

Censorship

    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.

R4 vs R1

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

    This film is apparently banned in the US. There is not currently an R1 release

    The R4 release looks to be largely identical to the R2 release, except that the R2 release also includes:

    and the R4 release gets:

    instead.

    It would be interesting to know whether the R2 release includes any footage that the R4 release does not. For anybody with the R2 release, the running time for this release is 109:32. Please let me know if the R2 release is any different.

Summary

    The Idiots is a confronting and in many respects ugly film. It is highly offensive. But these are also its good points. While it is hard to actually like this film, it is also hard not to be affected by it, and therefore respect it for what it is trying to do.

    Video is good given the limitations of the source, though sadly not 16x9 enhanced.

    The mono soundfield does its job, but nothing more.

    The extras are fairly promotional, though it was interesting to read the Dogme 95 Manifesto.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDMomitsu V880N Deluxe, using DVI output
DisplayHewlett Packard ep7120 DLP Projector with 80" Widescreen HDTV Projector Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersDigital Accoustics Emerald 703G - Centre, Front Left & Right, Rear Left & Right Satellites, Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
The Idiots censorship -
re:The Idiots censorship -
If its 109:32 I think its uncut. -
Banned in the US? -
Oh, and to be pedantic... -
UK edition -

Overall | Breaking the Waves (1996) | The Idiots (Idioterne) (1998) | Tranceformer: A Portrait of Lars von Trier (1997)

Tranceformer: A Portrait of Lars von Trier (1997)

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
Studio
Distributor

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

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

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

Video

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

Audio

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

Extras

    There are no extras on this DVD.

Menu

    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.

Summary

    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)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© 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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