Death in Brunswick: Collectors Edition (1991)

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Released 31-Oct-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Menu Animation
Audio Commentary-Sam Neill & John Clarke
Audio Commentary-John Ruane & Ellery Ryan
Featurette-Making Of-Memories of Murder
Featurette-The Grass Is Greener - Sam Neill
Featurette-The Grass Is Greener - John Clarke
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailer-Death In Brunswick
Teaser Trailer-Umbrella Propaganda
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 105:03 (Case: 109)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:02)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By John Ruane

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Sam Neill
Zoe Carides
John Clarke
Yvonne Lawley
Nick Lathouris
Nicholas Papademetriou
Boris Brkic
Deborah Kennedy
Doris Younane
Denis Moore
Kris Karahisarlis
Steve Hutchinson
Huriye Balkaya
Case Amaray-Transparent-Dual
RPI $29.95 Music Phil Judd

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     I remember first seeing Death In Brunswick at the 1991 AFI judging screenings and have admired the film ever since. The film made a brief appearance on VHS after its initial cinema run, but has been "missing" for many years - until now.

     Death In Brunswick opens with a crane shot in a typical street in the inner-northern suburb of Melbourne, known as Brunswick. Carl Fitzgerald (Sam Neill) is woken by empty cans blowing around outside his rundown, rented house. However, his day gets worse when he discovers that his meddling mother (Yvonne Lawley) is in his kitchen. She has decided to pay him a surprise visit (only for a few days), to help him sort out his rather bohemian existence. Carl is around forty years of age, loves a drink, is unemployed and recently single - something that his mother would love to change.

    Carl gets a job as a cook in a cockroach-infested kitchen at a local, sleazy nightclub. The Bombay Club is owned by Yanni (Nicholas Papademetriou), who nearly always has the company of his over-zealous bouncer, Laurie (Boris Brkic).

    Carl meets his kitchen hand, Mustafa (Nick Lathouris), who seems more keen on running his side business of drug dealing and stolen goods than helping Carl in the kitchen. However, one positive that comes with the job is that Carl meets and instantly falls in love with a very young barmaid, Sophie (Zoe Carides). When she can, Sophie smuggles a tequila and ginger to Carl in the kitchen and it isn't long before the pair become more than just friends.

    Not even the drudgery of his unrewarding job or his domineering mother can stop Carl from feeling elated about his new love life. He visits his long time friend and confidant, Dave (John Clarke) to give him the good news, but Dave is just a little concerned with the age difference. No such concern from Dave's wife, June (Deborah Kennedy), who thinks that Carl is a loser and is always quick to offer him advice with an acid tongue.

    Late one night at the club, Mustafa is savagely beaten by Laurie and the other bouncers when they discover his illegal activities. Laurie then whispers to the semi-conscious Mustafa that it was Carl who tipped them off. Mustafa enters the kitchen in a bloodied and bruised state and confronts Carl about the false allegation. In the physical altercation that follows, Mustafa is accidentally and fatally stabbed with Carl's roasting fork. Quickly hiding the body, Carl again calls on the services of his trusty mate Dave, who just happens to be a grave digger.

    Naturally, Carl's life begins a familiar downward spiral from here and we're still only half way through the film.

    Death In Brunswick is often laugh-out-loud hilarious, albeit in a very dark manner. The humor is dry and wonderfully timed, with great performances all round. It is somewhat of an underrated film in Australian cinema and is clearly one of the better local films made in the nineties.

    I worked in Brunswick for six years, so apart from being quite familiar with some of the locations used in the film, I developed a feel for the place. Despite the fact that some locations were constructed sets and other real locations were actually outside of Brunswick, director and co-writer, John Ruane has managed to capture the essence of the suburb incredibly well. I believe this was a critical factor in bringing Boyd Oxlade's novel to the screen. Also critical in this area and worth mentioning is Chris Kennedy's superb production design, which achieved some amazing results on a very tight budget.

    Ruane has made just two feature films since Death In Brunswick; That Eye, The Sky in 1994 and Dead Letter Office in 1998. Let's hope we haven't seen the last from this talented Australian director.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer for Death In Brunswick is generally very good.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. Although to be more accurate, my measurements continually indicated that the ratio is somewhere between 1.78:1 and 1.85:1. I couldn't confirm the correct aspect ratio for Death In Brunswick, but it's likely to be 1.85:1.

    Although on the whole, sharpness and clarity is good, the transfer does tend to be slightly on the soft side. It has been many years since I've seen this film in a cinema, but I'd go out on a limb and say this is probably consistent with the source material. Either way, it's certainly not problematic and far better than any old VHS copy you might own. Blacks were clean and shadow detail was generally very good.

    Colours appeared natural and very nicely balanced.

    I didn't notice any MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to video artefacts were not a significant issue and film artefacts were almost non-existent. While it was not particularly distracting, a single reel change marking was evident at 85:31.

    There are no subtitles available on both discs.

    Both DVD's are single sided, dual layer discs. The layer change on disc one (film disc) was noticeable, but well placed at 60:02.

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


    The audio transfer has remained faithful to original mix.

    There are three audio tracks available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) and two separate audio commentaries, each English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s).

    I had no problems with the dialogue quality and audio sync appeared to be excellent.

    The original music in Death In Brunswick is credited to ex- Split Enz guitarist, Phil Judd. It's a superb soundtrack with a strong Greek influence, while still remaining accessible to a general audience. Phil has incorporated the bouzouki into the mix of instruments and created the perfect mood for the film. Some non-original music is also used in the film, including Mahler's Symphony No 5.

    The sound activity is all front-based. This is consistent with the original sound mix for the film.

    The subwoofer came to life during many of the music passages.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Umbrella have again delivered a cracking set of extras for a fine Australian film.


    The main menu has very subtle animation, is 16x9 enhanced and silent.

Disc One Extras:

Audio Commentary - Sam Neill (Carl) and John Clarke (Dave)

    As you would expect, this is a highly entertaining commentary. Sam and John are actually very good friends and seem to relish the opportunity see this film again after so many years. Sam in particular, has many laughs as the pair relay their memories of the production, pausing only occasionally to soak up the action on screen.

Audio Commentary - John Ruane (Director) and Ellery Ryan (Cinematographer).

    This is another outstanding commentary, but this time the dialogue is technically more informative and slightly less fun. John and Ellery have a clear memory of the production and offer some great insight into all aspects of the film. John in particular, is also very frank about the things that didn't quite go to plan. Both commentaries are highly recommended.

Original Theatrical Trailer - Death In Brunswick  (2:09)

Umbrella Trailers

  • Picnic At Hanging Rock (4:48)
  • The Club (3:07)
  • Don's Party (2:01)
  • Malcolm (2:23)

    Disc Two Extras:

    Featurette - Memories Of Murder (48:40)

        This documentary was produced by Umbrella in 2007, exclusively for this DVD presentation. It's a fascinating, retrospective look into the production of Death In Brunswick. Most aspects of the production are covered in the doco, with cast and crew interviews and scenes from the film. Of particular interest was the many pitfalls encountered by John Ruane to even get the production off the ground. Most of the interviews take place in the Melbourne General Cemetery and the building that was formerly Bombay Rock in Brunswick. Contributors in this featurette include, John Ruane, Ellery Ryan, Chris Kennedy, Boyd Oxlade, John Clarke, Zoe Carides and Boris Brkic.

    The Grass Is Greener - Sam Neill (22:55)

        The Grass Is Greener is a fascinating New Zealand TV program that details the lives of local artists that have moved and work in Australia. In this edition, Sam Neill talks candidly about his beginnings as an actor in New Zealand and modestly discusses his rise to international fame. Scenes from a variety of Sam's films are also incorporated into the program. He also talks about his love of both countries and is quite open in discussing the political situation in New Zealand at the time. This program was made during the filming of Death In Brunswick and also features quite a bit of behind the scenes footage.

    The Grass Is Greener - John Clarke (22:52)

        This time the same program highlights John Clarke. Again, the program follows a similar theme, detailing John Clarke's background as a humorist and his career in film and television. This edition also seems to have been made during the production of Death In Brunswick and features additional behind the scenes action.

    Deleted Scenes (22:30)

        A collection of eighteen deleted or alternate scenes that didn't make the final cut. These scenes are from un-restored stock, but are very worthy inclusions in the DVD presentation.

    Umbrella Trailers

  • Jessica (2:41)
  • Robbery Under Arms (1:36)
  • The Club (3:04)

    R4 vs R1

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

        I couldn't find any reference to a R1 version of Death In Brunswick. There is however a UK, Region 2 version available. That version is a single DVD edition, with no extras.


        Death In Brunswick finally makes its arrival to DVD. Umbrella have again delivered an outstanding two-disc presentation of an another underrated Australian gem. Highly recommended.

        The video and audio transfers are very good.

        The selection of extras is fantastic and will no doubt please those who have waited so long for this local DVD release.

  • Ratings (out of 5)


    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Wednesday, January 02, 2008
    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

    Other Reviews NONE
    Comments (Add)
    Great Review!! - cztery REPLY POSTED
    UK Region 2 Version - RichardP REPLY POSTED
    Region 2 DVD - More Info. - cztery REPLY POSTED