Alexandra's Project (Palace Films Collection) (2003)

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Released 14-Feb-2008

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Making Of-It's In The Eye Of The Beholder
Interviews-Crew-Popcorn Taxi with Rolf de Heer - hosted by Margaret Pomeranz
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer-Alexandra's Project
Teaser Trailer-Palace & World Cinema Trailers
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 98:54 (Case: 102)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rolf de Heer

Madman Entertainment
Starring Gary Sweet
Helen Buday
Bogdan Koca
Samantha Knigge
Jack Christie
Eileen Darley
Geoff Revell
Philip Spruce
Nathan O'Keefe
Peter Green
Martha Lott
Cindy Elliott
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Graham Tardif

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 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

     From the very opening of Alexandra's Project, writer/director/producer, Rolf de Heer establishes a strong connection with suburban living. The new estate filled with similar houses, all with gardens that display individual pride and creativity. In these houses, people live their lives with like-minded hopes and aspirations for their families. In essence, they are all living the great Australian dream and Steve is one of those people.

    It's another seemingly routine morning in Steve's (Gary Sweet) modest household. There is one small detail that makes this day just a little different; it's the morning of his 40th birthday. After birthday hugs and kisses from his two young kids, Steve prepares for another day at the office. His wife, Alexandra (Helen Buday) goes about organising the kids for school. But, as Alexandra stands in front of the bathroom mirror, the audience becomes aware that her relationship with Steve is far from perfect.As he leaves for the office, Alexandra sends Steve off with the promise of a big surprise when he returns home that night.

    Steve's day at work couldn't be better; he is presented with a large birthday cake from his colleagues and receives a promotion from senior management. All this and he still has the big surprise at home to come; could this birthday possibly get any better?

    That night Steve returns to a dark house. He opens the unlocked door expecting to be greeted by a house full of guests, but the house is empty and totally dark. All the light bulbs have been removed and  the recently installed security window shutters are all closed and locked. Furniture has been removed or rearranged to open up the room. After searching the cupboards and finding a single light bulb, Steve has light in the living room.

    Still unsure and apprehensive about Alexandra's birthday surprise, Steve notices a wrapped package on top of the television. Inside is a video tape with the words, "play me". Steve inserts the tape into the player and sits in the strategically placed armchair. Alexandra and the children appear on screen and Steve's big birthday surprise finally begins.

    Alexandra's Project is a film best experienced cold. The less you know about the plot, the better. Rolf de Heer's screenplay is full of malevolence and loaded with surprises. He keeps the suspense tight and holds the audience in a heightened sense of anticipation throughout the film. The performances from the small cast are all excellent, especially Helen Buday and Gary Sweet, who gives arguably the best performance of his career. Unfortunately though, his gutsy performance was curiously overlooked for nomination at the AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards of that year.

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Transfer Quality



    Alexandra's Project is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

    There is a slight softness to the image that is consistent with the source material. I remember this from seeing the film in the cinema many years ago. However, in overall terms, a good degree of sharpness is achieved in the transfer, especially during the brighter scenes of the film. Blacks were solid and shadow detail was generally good.

    The colour palette used in the production design was quite sedate, particularly during the home interior scenes. Splashes of vivid colour were kept to a minimum.

    There were no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were kept under control and film artefacts were not noticed.

    There are no subtitles available on the DVD.

    This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change occurs at 23:28 during the "making of" extra.

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


    There are two audio tracks on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality was clear and concise throughout and there were no obvious problems with audio sync.

    Graham Tardif's original score is minimal, but full of atmosphere. It adds considerably to the overall mood of the film.

     As much of this film takes place inside one room, the surround channels didn't have major role to play. Subtle ambient night sounds, such as crickets were noticed and Graham Tardif's score surrounded the viewer on occasions.

    The subwoofer was active on the rare occasion, with bass elements in the score the main contributor.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




    The main menu has subtle animation, 16x9 enhancement and features a sample of music from the film.


Featurette - It's In The Eye Of The Beholder (Making Of Alexandra's Project) (37:20)

    This was filmed during the production of Alexandra's Project and is an outstanding look at the making of the film. The featurette is full of candid behind-the-scenes footage and features interviews with many cast and crew members.Everyone involved contributes with enthusiasm, especially Gary Sweet, who keeps a sense of humor while preparing for some of his most difficult scenes.

Popcorn Taxi - Interview with Rolf de Heer, hosted by Margaret Pomeranz (62:53)

    This very informative Q & A session was filmed at The Valhalla Cinema, Sydney in April 2003. The session took place after a screening of Alexandra's Project and is in front of an audience. Margaret Pomeranz from the ABC program, At The Movies asks Rolf a series of questions about the film before handing the microphone over to the audience. Rolf de Heer certainly doesn't get an easy ride here; the first audience question comes from a man who hated the film and lets Rolf know about it in no uncertain terms.


    Single page, text based biographies for Gary Sweet, Helen Buday, Bogdan Koca, Rolf de Heer, Antonio Zeccola, Julie Ryan and Domenico Procacci.

Original Theatrical Trailer

    Alexandra's Project (2:09)

Photo Gallery

    A collection of twenty non-descript images from the film and behind-the-scenes.

More From Palace Films 

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  • Japanese Story  (2:19)
  • Erskineville Kings  (2:33)
  • Visitors  (1:55)

    More From World Cinema

  • Read My Lips (1:35)
  • My Wife The Actress  (1:20)
  • The Best Man's Wedding  (0:59)
  • Respiro  (1:31)

    R4 vs R1

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

        There is a R1 edition of Alexandra's Project that was released by Film Movement in January 2005.The film is presented in the correct aspect ratio, but it only features the Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track. In addition it features a totally unrelated Swedish short film, cast and crew biographies and trailers of other releases by the distributor.

        There is no doubt, the Madman R4 edition is the best currently available.


        Rolf de Heer's, Alexandra's Project is a highly original psychological thriller. The film has divided audience opinion since its release and it remains one of his most controversial films to date. The direction is assured and performances from the small cast are excellent. Watch it with your partner and be prepared for some healthy discussion afterwards.

        The transfers are very good and consistent with the source material.

        The selection of extras offers great insight into the making of the film.



  • Ratings (out of 5)


    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Monday, December 15, 2008
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    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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