Overall | Dance Me to My Song (Palace Films Collection) (1998) | The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001) | The Tracker (2002) | Alexandra's Project (Palace Films Collection) (2003) | Ten Canoes: Special Edition (2006) | Dr Plonk (Palace Film Collection) (2007)

Rolf de Heer Collection (Six Films by Rolf de Heer)

Rolf de Heer Collection (Six Films by Rolf de Heer)

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Released 12-Nov-2008

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Overall Package

    Rolf de Heer is one of Australia's most innovative and courageous filmmakers. His eclectic body of work defies categorisation in both style and content. From the obscure ambiguity of Incident at Ravens Gate through to the innocent charm of Dr Plonk, Rolf de Heer has made each of his films with great proficiency, originality and imagination. While his films have not always appealed to a wide audience, they have nearly always generated healthy debate.

    From humble beginnings, working as a storeman at the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Rolf de Heer has become one of our most respected filmmakers. This box-set, which is actually titled, Six Films By Rolf de Heer, contains an excellent selection of films, all of which showcase the diversity and skill of Rolf de Heer as a filmmaker.

    In chronological order the films in this set are Dance Me To My Song (1998) - at the time of writing this review, this rarely seen film is exclusive to the box set and is not available for purchase separately.

    Next up is the 2001 film, The Old Man Who Read Love Stories, filmed under difficult circumstances in the Amazon jungle, starring Richard Dreyfuss.

    My favourite Rolf de Heer film is next. The Tracker (2002) features a brilliant performance from David Gulpilil, while Gary Sweet's performance also deserves a mention.

    Speaking of Gary Sweet, Alexandra's Project (2003) is also included in the set and showcases what is argueably his best performance on film to date.

    The two-disc set of the multi-award winning, Ten Canoes (2006) is also included, with David Gulpilil's son, Jamie starring and David doing the story narration.

    The final film in this collection is Rolf de Heer's tribute to the silent era of cinema, the wonderful, Dr Plonk (2007).

    Madman Entertainment's, Six Films By Rolf de Heer is a diverse collection of six of his best films. With the exclusive inclusion of Dance Me To My Song, it's a must have collection for anyone with an interest in the work of this talented filmmaker.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Monday, December 22, 2008
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Dance Me to My Song (Palace Films Collection) (1998) | The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001) | The Tracker (2002) | Alexandra's Project (Palace Films Collection) (2003) | Ten Canoes: Special Edition (2006) | Dr Plonk (Palace Film Collection) (2007)

Dance Me to My Song (Palace Films Collection) (1998)

Dance Me to My Song (Palace Films Collection) (1998)

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Released 12-Nov-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Interview with Rolf de Heer
Theatrical Trailer-Dance Me To My Song
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 98:54 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Heather Rose
Joey Kennedy
John Brumpton
Rena Owen
Catherine Fitzgerald
Susie Fraser
Carmel Johnson
Phil MacPherson
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI Box Music Graham Tardif


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 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 first saw Dance Me To My Song in a cinema about ten years ago. I clearly remember how impressed I was that someone would have the courage to make this film with such frankness and honesty. Rolf de Heer again goes where most filmmakers would fear to tread. In Dance Me To My Song, he delivers a film that is equally confronting, inspiring and occasionally, very funny.

    Julia (Heather Rose) lives alone in a small house in the suburbs. She has Cerebral Palsy, so although she cherishes her independence, she is reliant on her part-time carer, Madelaine (Joey Kennedy). Julia's independence is limited to the use of her motorised wheelchair and communicating via a voice synthesizer. She still needs assistance with the vast majority of her daily tasks and Madelaine arrives each morning to aide her with these. The problem is, Madelaine is not a particularly caring person and has little patience for Julia's disability.

    Madelaine treats her carer's role simply as a job and is far more occupied with keeping male companions longer than a one night stand. Julia has little choice than to put up with Madelaine's indiscretions, because she's told that the only alternative is for her to go back into a home.

    After one of Madelaine's many temper tantrums, Julia is again left alone in the house. She cleverly uses her wheelchair to corral a handsome young man walking down her street. Although he appears to be in a hurry, Eddie (John Brumpton) takes the time to help Julia and it isn't long before he warms to her wicked sense of humor.

    The very nature of Eddie's life is quite mysterious, but this is no deterrent to Julia who develops a healthy crush on him. Madelaine sees Eddie as another conquest and sets about his seduction, even though she's aware of Julia's feelings for him. However, things come crashing down when Madelaine misconstrues a compassionate act and she banishes Eddie from Julia's life.

    Julia must now decide if her disability should allow others to dictate her life. She finds the courage to confront Madelaine, re-establishing the dignity and respect that she has missed for so long.

    Dance Me To My Song was written by Heather Rose, with Frederick Stahl and is based on certain experiences from Heather's life. Rolf de Heer came in to the writing process later, offering assistance from a cinematic perspective.

    The small cast are all excellent, especially Heather Rose and Joey Kennedy, whose brave performances are at the very soul of this film. Another performance worth singling out is Rena Owen's wonderful portrayal of Julia's old and dear friend, Rix.

    Sadly, Heather Rose passed away on 5th October 2002, just one day after her 36th birthday.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Dance Me To My Song is presented letterboxed in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Obviously, this is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Despite a slightly grainy appearance, the level of sharpness is still reasonably good. Blacks were clean and noise free, while shadows displayed excellent detail.

    The colours in the film have been nicely transferred to DVD, with no apparent problems. All appear totally natural and well balanced.

    There were no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Apart from a couple of very minor instances of aliasing, film-to-video artefacts were well controlled. Film artefacts were virtually non-existent.

    Unfortunately, there are no subtitles available.

    This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change occurs at 65:20 and isn't overly disruptive.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track available, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s), which is surround encoded.

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

    The original music score by Graham Tardif is mostly piano based. With this score, Graham sustains an air of doubt with the audience and prevents them from feeling completely at ease.

     The nature of this film really doesn't warrant a big surround audio mix. On the whole, the surround channels carried some effective ambient sound and music. There was nothing in the way of direct sound placement.

    The subwoofer was only active on a couple of occasions.

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

Extras

    

Menu

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

 

Featurette - Interview with Rolf de Heer   (27:45)  

    This featurette was produced this year by Madman Entertainment and is not directly related to Dance Me To My Song. Rolf de Heer talks about his beginnings as a filmmaker. He tells of his days as a storeman at the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) and how he advanced himself, before applying to The Australian Film & Television School. Rolf also discusses many of his films, with footage from them incorporated into the dialogue.

Theatrical Trailer

    Dance Me To My Song (2:15)

R4 vs R1

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

    At the time of writing this review, there is no R1 edition of Dance Me To My Song available.

Summary

    Once again, Rolf de Heer goes where most filmmakers fear to tread. Dance Me To My Song is a courageous and brutally honest film, which has won the hearts of many people. Hopefully in time, Madman will release this rarely seen film separately, but for the time being at least; it's exclusive to the Rolf de Heer box-set.

    Although this transfer isn't 16x9 enhanced, the video and audio transfers are still very good.

    The "interview" extra on the DVD isn't directly related to Dance Me To My Song , but it's still a must see for admirers of Rolf de Heer's films.

 

.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Saturday, December 20, 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
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Overall | Dance Me to My Song (Palace Films Collection) (1998) | The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001) | The Tracker (2002) | Alexandra's Project (Palace Films Collection) (2003) | Ten Canoes: Special Edition (2006) | Dr Plonk (Palace Film Collection) (2007)

The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001)

The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001)

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Released 12-Jan-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Featurette-Rumble In The Jungle
Featurette-Q & A With Rolf De Heer And Hugo Weaving
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Rolf De Heer Trailer Reel
Trailer-Osama, Tais Toi, Safe, Springtime In A Small Town
Trailer-Owning Mahowny, Letters To Ali
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 110:29
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (104:52) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor
Pandora
Madman Entertainment
Starring Richard Dreyfuss
Timothy Spall
Hugo Weaving
Cathy Tyson
Victor Bottenbley
Federico Celada
Luis Hostalot
Guillermo Toledo
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Graham Tardif


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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

    This is an odd project, which I was aware of before choosing to review this DVD. It sounds like something which could not possibly work. A story set in the Amazonian jungle, featuring jaguars and an old South American man who reads love stories (literally) who is played by a actor who doesn't seem to fit, Richard Dreyfuss; written and directed by Australian director Rolf De Heer famous for films of searing intensity such as Alexandra's Project, The Tracker or Bad Boy Bubby; co-produced by French, Dutch and Spanish interests, filmed in South America in 1999 by a crew who all spoke different languages, released internationally in 2001 and not released cinematically here until earlier this year! Even if you don't take all of those seemingly difficult hurdles into account, this is a remarkable film of great beauty, emotion, action and redemption. When those are taken into account, the quality of this film is truly incredible to behold.

    The Old Man Who Read Love Stories tells the story of Antonio Bolivar (Richard Dreyfuss) a man born in a mountain village who early in his life moved to the Amazonian Jungle with his wife and stayed there until he was more than 60, despite his wife dying shortly after the move. His move was prompted by a government offer of free land and the equipment and support required to farm it. The film starts after Antonio has moved to the outskirts of the jungle into a small community called El Idilio on a bend in the Amazon. He believes he is now too old to live in the jungle itself and instead lives in a small shack in the village. Here he develops a desire to read and as his options are limited, borrows romance novels from the servant of the town's Mayor. The servant's name is Josefina (Cathy Tyson) and their relationship develops over the course of the film. They are originally introduced by a travelling dentist who visits the town regularly (Hugo Weaving). He has some questionable dental methods and his only anaesthetic is rum. The Mayor (Timothy Spall) is a thoroughly unlikeable man who treats everyone like he owns them. They is turn refer to him as the 'Slimy Toad'.

    Into this seemingly quiet environment comes a group of jungle Indians, with a dead body they have found up the river. It is quickly established that he has been mauled to death by a jaguar, in revenge for the shooting of her cubs. After another body is discovered with similar wounds, the Mayor decides that they need to hunt the jaguar down to protect the villagers. Despite his age, Antonio embarks on this mission at the insistence of the Mayor, as he is one of the few villagers with the jungle skills required for the mission. Along the way, Antonio reminisces about his life and we begin to understand more about his motivations, fears and history.

    This is a lyrical, atmospheric and emotional film which features excellent cinematography, some fine acting, especially from Richard Dreyfuss, a fascinating and very original story (based on a novel by Luis Supulveda) and a wonderful score. The film includes some exciting action, sly humour, romance and human drama. I was really surprised by how much I enjoyed this film, and how well Richard Dreyfuss became a little old South American jungle dweller. Antonio's search for redemption (and why he needs it) is truly haunting and the director uses an excellent technique of changing from the current time and place to events that occurred previously in Antonio's life, which adds significantly to this effect. It was filmed completely on location in the jungles of French Guiana in South America.

    I would highly recommend this film to lovers of fine cinema.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was beautifully clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. It showed off the magnificent cinematography and locations. There was some extremely light grain in some scenes. The shadow detail was excellent.

    The colour was excellent and was well saturated with no colour artefacts. The beautiful greens of the jungle and the pitch black of the night scenes were beautifully rendered.

    There were no noticeable artefacts of any kind.

    There are no subtitles at all.

    The layer change occurs at approximately 104:52, somewhere in chapter 17, however I needed to use my PC to find it.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is excellent.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s. Detailed comments here refer to the 5.1 track, however the stereo track would be fine for those without a full 5.1 setup.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Graham Tardif (a regular Rolf De Heer collaborator) is magnificent, featuring both haunting and evocative parts and tense and action filled sections as required. The music came across extremely well in this transfer.

    The surround speakers provided some excellent surround effects, especially jungle ambience and rainfall sounds. The surround use was very immersive and really made you feel that you were in the Amazon jungle. A scene at 90:40 shows off a great collection of surround effects and LFE.

     The subwoofer was mostly used to add bass to the score but it really added excellent tension during the hunting and chase scenes with the jaguar. As mentioned above, the scene at 90:40 includes some great sound design.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu includes stills from the film, music and the ability to select scenes and audio options.

'Rumble in the Jungle' featurette (36:48)

    A interesting but slightly overlong making of featurette which features interviews with the important cast members discussing their characters, problems encountered during the shoot, heat and rain and other problems. Rolf De Heer chimes in with some comments about the location and the difficulties of the co-production and the many languages of the crew. Worth watching. Presented 4x3 and in 2.0 sound, with fairly ordinary picture quality.

Q&A with Rolf De Heer & Hugo Weaving (36:59)

    A question and answer session with the director and Hugo Weaving after a screening of the film in Sydney in March 2004. Rolf does most of the talking and is very open, honest and discusses the financial issues which delayed its release, some funny anecdotes, how he was concerned that Richard Dreyfuss would be a difficult fit but how happy he was with the result. Hugo mostly leads the cheer squad but also adds some interesting comments. The audience generally ask sensible questions but the actual interviewer is quite annoying. One of the most honest extras I have ever seen on a DVD. Definitely worth watching.

Trailer Reel - Rolf De Heer

    Trailers for The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (1:57), The Tracker (2:06) and Alexandra's Project (2:14). All three are excellent trailers and I am now keen to see the other two films.

Madman Propaganda

    Trailers for Osama, Tais Toi, Safe, Springtime in a Small Town, Owning Mahoney & Letters to Ali.

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is coded for all regions and as far as I can tell the film has only previously been released in non-English speaking European countries. For English-speaking audiences the Region 4 disc is definitely the go.

Summary

    A wonderful, haunting, atmospheric and beautifully made film about an old man and his search for love and redemption, set in the Amazonian jungle. I find this film almost impossible to encapsulate in one sentence.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    The disc has a small selection of quality extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

Other Reviews NONE
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Overall | Dance Me to My Song (Palace Films Collection) (1998) | The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001) | The Tracker (2002) | Alexandra's Project (Palace Films Collection) (2003) | Ten Canoes: Special Edition (2006) | Dr Plonk (Palace Film Collection) (2007)

The Tracker (2002)

The Tracker (2002)

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Released 20-Aug-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Theatrical Trailer
Outtakes
Featurette-Awards & Festivals (4) + Notes
Interviews-Crew
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Peter Coad
Music Video-Alien Invasion
Trailer-Walkabout; Till Human Voices Wake Us; Nine Queens
Trailer-Samsara; Spirited Away; Walking On Water
Easter Egg-Trailer - Alexandera's Project
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 94:06 (Case: 98)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (80:59) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rolf de Heer
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring David Gulpilil
Gary Sweet
Damon Gameau
Grant Page
Noel Wilton
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music Graham Tardif
Rolf de Heer
Archie Roach


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/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

"All men choose the path they walk."

    Four men are on the trail of a killer...perhaps. If you run, then you must be guilty, right? This is something that the group, lead by The Fanatic would probably assume. Accused by the authorities of the murder of a white woman, an aboriginal man is on the run with the law relentlessly pursuing him. The group is made up of The Fanatic, a man obsessed with what is right, with what he perceives as being right and the natural order of things; The Veteran, a man who has seen it all many times before and knows the probable outcome of the expedition; The Follower, a young law enforcer on his first hunt for an accused man in the isolated inland environment of outback Australia, and; The Tracker, an experienced aboriginal tracker who leads the group after The Fugitive.

    Even though The Tracker leads the group, he is in fact at the bottom of the pecking order and he is looked down upon, both figuratively and literally, by the others in the group. As they ride behind, The Tracker walks on foot, meticulously retracing The Fugitive's steps who he thinks might be half a day ahead. The Follower is sceptical of The Tracker's ability and motivation - after all, it is an aboriginal the group is hunting and it is an aboriginal  who leads them. Surely this is a conflict of interest. But The Tracker proclaims his dedication to the task and The Fanatic, despite his ever-increasing hostility and rage, firmly believes that The Tracker is indeed on the real trail of The Fugitive. But as the group continues on, things begin to go awry with The Tracker more within his element, The Fugitive no more closer to capture, and The Fanatic more hostile and determined than ever. The Fugitive will be captured and brought to justice at all costs. D*** the loss of horses and provisions, d*** the silent spear attacks from foes unseen, d*** the stubborn Tracker who dares to stand before me in defiance. D*** it all for I will see that justice is served and I will be the one to do it.

    The Fanatic is right. Justice will be done. Justice may not always be swift, but it is sure...and it will come.

    I am not a purveyor of political correctness, nor am I a willing consumer of same. So it was with some level of trepidation that I took on the job of reviewing this title. Perhaps the pressure was from within, imagined by myself and made manifest in my brain. It was an almost dread that I wouldn't like this film, would respond to it as such and be criticized as being for being anti-aboriginal, anti-black, anti-indigenous...whatever. So, the closer to doing this review I came, the more I thought, 'What if I don't like it? What if I don't like it...? What then?'. I needn't have worried. As soon as I sat down and pressed 'Play', there were no preconceptions in my head at all and this was about reviewing a film, that's it. I was free to view the film on its own merits and judge it accordingly. In my defense, this is what I always do, and I've taken it for granted that this is the order of things. But in this case, the awareness of indigenous issues, the awareness of the decade-long reign of political correctness and my own perhaps misguided fears that this film would be expected to be applauded for the sole reasons of its subject matter and because of the issues relating to the injustice done to indigenous populations of this (and many other) countries. In reality, this film doesn't need to be applauded because of these things, and if this movie was indeed a load of garbage I truthfully would tell you so. It is not.

    Director Rolf de Heer has again done a fine job of taking us on a trip to somewhere where we may not have been before and putting us in predicaments that we might have not entertained. This is similar to what he did with the film Bad Boy Bubby in 1993, where he took us on a trip into a world unfamiliar to us and revealed it. This is perhaps too confronting to some as Bad Boy Bubby would demonstrate, but ultimately rewarding for those who are willing to go on the journey. Director Rolf de Heer does indeed take us on a trip. Many have complained that this film is slow. In fact, a friend who saw this film on video recently described how he turned it off after the first 10 minutes, proclaiming, 'Nothing happened. All they did was walk around while some guy sang'. If you are one for instant gratification then this probably isn't the film for you. However, if you like to see a story revealed in a well conceived and deliberate manner that you might find this film quite rewarding.

    This film has been in the making for more than a decade with the film's director having written this film years ago. In fact, Rolf had originally intended for Grant Page to be cast as The Fanatic, but as the years went by, the director discovered someone who could fill the role of The Fanatic and make it something special, and that person was Gary Sweet. Veteran of various film and television projects over the years in Australia, Gary came to the attention of the director when he saw Gary having a cigarette outside a venue and the image that came across was one so natural and stripped of hype that the director couldn't help but be attracted to the actor for the supporting role in his new film. When approached to play the part of The Fanatic, Gary jumped at the chance. Gary's previous roles include those of Christopher Dale Flannery in the fantastic mini-series Blue Murder (1995) and performances in the popular ABC series Police Rescue as well as the early 80s mini-series Bodyline where Gary played the role of Donald Bradman. In this film, Gary Sweet is almost unrecognizable and this helps deflect any preconceptions of him as it allows the actor to create the character of The Fanatic quite well. A splendid performance from a quality performer.

    The choice to pick David Gulpilil for the role as The Tracker was inspired, perhaps even predestined as I cannot think of anyone more suited to the role of The Tracker than David. While David has been featured in films since 1971 and has been seen in productions such as Mad Dog Morgan in 1976, The Right Stuff in 1983 and Rabbit-Proof Fence in 2002, The Tracker would become David's first lead role and one that he would handle very well. David manages to capture the grace and dignity that personifies the character of The Tracker in the film. He has a poise and presence that one sees in some other indigenous races that is hard to describe. It is characterized as stature, a 'stand up tall'  look and attitude, pride, presence and probably overall, knowledge. All these things you can see in his performance during this film as a character that you shouldn't underestimate. This underestimation personifies an attitude to indigenous races that western civilization has embraced and propagated over the centuries. Sure, we've good at taking over countries, subjugating and assimilating their cultures and eventually eradicating the differences as this is what western civilization does best, but this is sad as we've equated power and technological achievement to civilization. Our mistake, and one that the character of The Tracker is more than capable of pointing out to us.

    Rounding out the main cast is Damon Gameau as The Follower, Grant Page as The Veteran and Noel Wilton as The Fugitive. As with The Tracker and The Fanatic, these characters are very important to the film and their performances are very much up to the task. Damon brings much to the role as The Follower with a performance that captures the inexperience and vulnerability of someone so young being met with the almost impossibly steep learning curve that is the Australian outback. Damon's acting credits had been fairly few and he appropriately used this 'greenness' to his advantage as the 'greenhorn' on the trek and it worked a treat. As stated before, Grant Page was originally considered for the role as The Fanatic, but since a decade had passed from the conception of the film to its eventual production, the Fanatic role went to Gary Sweet. Still, the role of The Veteran is quite important as it sets a sort of equilibrium between the characters of The Fanatic and The Follower. While experienced as a stunt co-ordinator, Grant paces his role as the almost quiet observer that has seen this path trodden many times before and perhaps even knows the outcome. While we don't see Noel Wilton on screen for long, it is hard to have a hunt for a fugitive without an actual fugitive and this role is taken on quite well by Noel. All of the actors here make their characters their own and thankfully the end result is a film that Australia can be very proud of.

    Leave at the door all your thoughts on the whole aboriginal question in respect to land rights, the 'stolen generation' and reconciliation. Drop all of it, clear your mind and have a look at this film. At the end you get the impression that it's not about aboriginal land rights or indeed aboriginal rights in general. Instead, consider the issues of human rights and our obligation, nay our duty, to respect each other as equals; brothers and sisters. The characters in this film come from all sides, from the ones that refuse to respect another's rights to the ones who learn to respect them. We can only hope that we can count ourselves amongst the latter group. An important and interesting film that really does reward the viewer who isn't in for the 'quick fix'. This isn't a long haul with a running time of just over 90 minutes, but the film does run at a deliberate pace and it rewards in a more traditional manner than one might imagine. Drop the preconceptions and have a look. Recommended.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer we have on offer is quite good with a very viewable image throughout, though there are some niggling flaws.

    This film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image on this DVD is quite reasonable with a good measure of clarity throughout. I did notice some very slight focus issues at the edges of the image during some portions of the film, but these could have been due to the photographic process used or indeed intended by the director. In either case, this very slight softness is far from distracting and is only visible from time to time. Much of this film takes place during daylight hours, but there are a couple of key scenes which take place during the dark and for the most part, shadow detail is reasonable. Sometimes during some of the darker scenes, the blacks take on the appearance of a brownish colour and exhibit a quite pronounced level of film grain, but again, this is only visible from time to time and is not a huge problem. Low level noise didn't cause any real problems.

    Colour is quite important to the conveying of this story, which uses the landscape as the canvas the story is drawn upon. Appropriately, the colours are quite natural throughout the film with the only exaggeration seen during some of Peter Coad's paintings which are seen during the film during some of the intense violence that takes place during the film. The portrayal of colour on this DVD is very natural and accurate with an appropriately vibrant image on offer when required.

    There is some slight MPEG pixelization visible from time to time during this presentation with examples visible at 6:19 during the camp scene as well as at 26:27. Aliasing is visible quite a bit during this feature, but because of the almost complete absence of straight lines, it isn't as pronounced as it could have been. Still, it is visible during any scene where thin branches and foliage are seen, such as at 58:48. Continual fugitive from justice edge enhancement remains at large, but he has been spotted at 8:02 around The Tracker as well as at other places throughout the film. The print used is quite clean with only the occasional nick and fleck visible.

    There are no subtitle options on this disc.

    This disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change at 80:59. This change is quite obvious with the image frozen in time for longer that I've come to expect on a recent disc played on a current player. Perhaps some machines with large buffer memories may render this change invisible, but I spotted it instantly and found it to be fairly disruptive.

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

Audio

     The audio on offer is quite good and presents a reasonable level of clarity throughout.

    There are 2 audio options available on this disc, these being a English Dolby Digital 5.1 mix as well as an English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded mix.

    For the most part, the dialogue quality is good with the spoken word clearly audible when intended by the director. I say this because there are times when the dialogue is purposely reduced and eclipsed by either the environment of the scene or more commonly the songs as sung by Archie Roach, as well as times where the characters are far from the viewer (the camera) and the audio is taken from the camera's location rather than miked by radio and transmitted to the sound engineer. This is a very interesting use of sound and dialogue which reminded me of Terrence Malick's 1978 classic Days of Heaven which used similar techniques. There was a point in the film (29:19) where The Fanatic calls The Tracker a monkey. When he utters the line '..you monkey' this is quite obviously looped in post production yet it looks as though this is actually what actor Gary Sweet is saying. The audio sync seemed quite reasonable with no major problems of note.

    The creation of the music for this film took a three pronged approach. Director Rolf de Heer wrote the lyrics for the film's songs. The music was then written by Graham Tardif and finally singer Archie Roach took on the vocal and arrangement duties. While I think that it was appropriate to have a vocalist of aboriginal heritage lending his voice to the songs of the film, I did find it a bit odd at times to hear modern music featuring modern instruments in the soundtrack of a film that is set in 1922. I've never been a real fan of 'modern' soundtracks such as those used in films such as Ladyhawk, Highlander and Dune. Granted, these are decidedly 80s examples, an era where this practice was pervasive, but you get the picture. Thankfully, the music heard during this film isn't as glaringly obvious as the above examples are, but it was something that at times distracted me and brought me away from the film. I would have preferred perhaps a simple acoustic mix without the use of dated electric instruments that don't fit the time in which this film is set. The songs heard during the film (arrangements aside) do add to the story of the film and do suit the goings-on on screen. I just thought that an acoustic soundtrack might have served the film better. As another reviewer is fond of saying, your mileage may vary, but at least you know what to expect.

    While we have a full Dolby Digital 5.1 track available, for the most part this film presents the sound in a fairly front oriented fashion with the surrounds taking on an expected supporting role. Other than the occasional environmental sound, the rears are mostly used in an atmospheric fashion.

    The subwoofer is used to support mostly the music from the film and the occasional gun shot. Other than these two things, the subwoofer was not overtly used during the feature.

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

Extras

    We have quite a bit of supplementary material on offer here.

Menu

    After the usual copyright warnings and distributor's logos, we are taken to the disc's Main Menu which offers us the following:     The Main Menu is presented with audio from the film's soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded. This and all the other menus found on the disc feature 16x9 enhancement.

    Selecting the Explore Extras icon presents us with the following options:

Theatrical Trailer   -   2:05

    This is very much in the vein of the film, so you don't get the usual exaggerated conglomeration of footage that can at times make a film look totally different from what it actually is. Watching this trailer will give a fairly accurate impression as to what one should expect from the film. This is offered in 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

Out-Takes   -   14:40   (with director's introduction and commentary)

    Actor David Gulpilil enjoys a laugh, even at the expense of himself. When director Rolf de Heer heard some hysterical laughing coming from David's room during principal photography, he found that David had been watching the rushes (the day's filmed scenes) on videotape in his room and was particularly struck by his own mistakes and bloopers. David made Rolf promise that when the film was finished, he would give him a copy of all his mistakes so he could have a laugh later. The film's director agreed and this section is a gift to David.

1. "He's not half a day ahead, we're half a day behind".

    Poor David couldn't get this part right, and it drove him (and the rest of the cast) mad. Try as he might, it would just be plain wrong. Here it is in all its cringeworthy glory.

2. "We'd better keep goin' now, Boss. That tribe back there...".

    That bloody tribe indeed. Another part where David just couldn't get the words out no matter how much he tried.

3. "We nearly had him, eh Boss?"

    The light is fading, Gary Sweet is tied to a tree and if they don't get this one down soon, they'll have to come back the next day and do it all again. With the pressure on, David performs.

4. The Latin last rites

    And just when you think that what you've seen personifies the abilities of David Gulpilil, out comes this startling piece of dialogue, captured on the first take. You almost become guilty of the same sin that traps The Fanatic in the film: underestimation. This dispels that underestimation quite quickly.

5. Intro to the Laugh Tracks

    This section shows just how hard it can be to laugh on key, over and over again. Sometimes though, it can be quite easy when the mood gets you.

6. Montage of laughs throughout the film

    Although this film takes a fairly sombre and serious tone, laughter plays a large part of the storytelling and this is a collage of laughs as seen during the film.

7. Intro to the actor's dedication

    This was a difficult movie to film. The conditions were rugged, the acting sometimes physical and all the time the cast gave it their all. You can tell by the end product. Here we see to some extent what the actors had to go through to bring us their performances and make the story come to life.

    This above feature is not divided into chapters as the numbered sections may lead you to believe. I've put those in to break up the different portions of this extra so as to convey what each is about. This section is presented full frame with the footage from the film being in 2.35:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded.

Awards & Festivals   -   5 Pages

    This section offers a list of the various awards that this film had been nominated for and in many cases, actually won. Pages 2, 3 and 5 are text based with many awards listed. Pages 1 and 4 have the same, but also feature footage of various film festivals and award ceremonies around the world. These sections of footage are presented full frame with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Venice International Film Festival 2002   -   4:11

    The cast and crew are in Venice where the film has won the SIGNIS Award - Honourable Mention and Director Rolf de Heer has been nominated for the Golden Lion. And actor David Gulpilil is all dressed up with everywhere to go.

World Premier, Adelaide Festival of Arts 2002   -   12:15

    Here we have the main cast and the director introduced by film critic David Stratton. David conducts a short interview with the film's director on stage before the screening of the film. There is also an interview with actor Gary Sweet here as well. Also featured is some of singer Archie Roach's performance at the premiere where the songs for the film were performed live in place of the normal  music soundtrack of the film.

Opening Night Film, Melbourne International Film Festival 2002   -   6:56

    Presented with a fairly poor quality image, this footage is from the opening night at the Melbourne festival and features the red carpet walk-ups by the stars as well as speeches from the cast and the Director.

IF Awards 2002   -   8:06

    The Tracker wins a swag of gongs at this awards night with the presentations made by the likes of Eric Bana, David Stratton, Margaret Pomeranz  and John Safran. Unfortunately, David Gulpilil couldn't be with us tonight, but he recorded this message. This bit alone is the best of these highlights. Very funny, and yes, David, you deserve it.

Interview   -   6:35

    Here, film critic David Stratton interviews Director Rolf de Heer about his project The Tracker for the SBS Movie Show. We only have the Director on screen during this interview with David Stratton heard off screen. The audio for this interview is fairly ordinary with Rolf's voice coming from the left speaker and the interviewer's coming from the front. Listening to this in Pro Logic only makes it worse and I recommend using straight 2 channel only.

Biographies

    These are text based biographies for the main contributors to the production of the film. A couple of the entries have selectable icons that lead to various supplementary materials. These are for:

Peter Coad Featurette   -   15:57

    While struggling with how to depict various scenes in the film, especially those of intense violence and brutality, Director Rolf de Heer called on artist Peter Coad to illustrate various scenes in the film to both augment and stand in for some of the film's most important scenes. In the process of his work, the artist displays an immense amount of respect towards the subject matter and the indigenous people whose life and history he is helping to convey. A very interesting look at how the art we see in the film came to be. Presented full frame with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

The Soundtrack

    This section offers the images from the covers of the Archie Roach album Sensual Being as well as the soundtrack album for the film The Tracker. Selectable from this menu is a video by Archie Roach for the song Alien Invasion from the Sensual Being album.

Alien Invasion - Music Video by Archie Roach   -   4:41

    This song has nothing to do with the film and is only included because of the involvement of Archie Roach with the score to the film. A modern clip with Archie looking up from under water to a strange collection of invaders (white folk). It covers the broad topic of land rights and white settlement. It is a shame that we didn't have some music from the film itself such as some of the live performances as heard during the film's premiere. Presented in 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Madman Propaganda  -  Theatrical Trailers

    This is a collection of trailers for titles being made available by Madman Cinema.

Walkabout   -   :31

    This is really a teaser trailer for an early film (1971) that featured actor David Gulpilil. This doesn't shed much light on the subject of the film, but the announcer promises that we'll see something never before seen in the history of cinema, or something like that. Big claim. Presented in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement. Audio is in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

Till Human Voices Wake Us   -   2:03

    Trailer for the Guy Pierce / Helena Bonham Carter film. It is reported that the disc for this film distributed by Madman Cinema will actually be a 2 disc set with both the U.S. edited version along with the original longer cut seen outside the U.S. Presented in 2.35:1 without 16x9 enhancement and with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Nine Queens   -   1:50

    Trailer for a film about 2 men planning the heist of a lifetime. You know everything won't go according to plan. Presented in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement and audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Samsara   -   2:16

    Set in the Himalayas, this looks to be a very well shot and interesting love story about self control, dedication and love. The photography looks wonderful and if the music in the trailer is indeed from the film which is by composer Cyril Morin, then the music sounds equally wonderful. Would love to see this film. Presented in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement and with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Spirited Away   -   2:18

    Interesting trailer for an animated tale of a girl who is somehow stranded in a shadow ghost world populated by fantastic beings. Presented by the Walt Disney Studios, this film has become very popular and looks quite interesting for those interested in both mainstream animation as well as manga animation. Presented in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement and with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Walking on Water   -   2:26

    Trailer for the Australian film staring rapid up-and-comer Vince Colosimo and looks to cover the life, loves and tribulations of a group of young people. A much awarded film that competed in several categories head-to-head with The Tracker in 2002. Presented in 1.85:1 without 16x9 enhancement and with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

Easter Egg  -  Theatrical Trailer - Alexandra's Project   -  2:14

    Security mad husband Gary Sweet has been sent away by his wife for the day with the promise of a surprise to follow. What is the surprise? Can't wait to find out. This is the trailer for the next Rolf de Heer film which was completed in 2003. This hidden trailer (found on the last page of the Director's biography) is presented in 1.85:1, is 16x9 enhanced and features audio in Dolby Digital 2.0.

R4 vs R1

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

     At this minute, the Region 4 disc is the only one available worldwide, making ours the best (and only) version.

Summary

     Set at a deliberate pace, The Tracker is one of those slow burns that keeps you attentive to the very last. Although many may find this film slow, it isn't and is very rewarding for the viewer with a little patience. An excellent study into the motivations of man and a fascinating look at what parts of this country might have been like at the start of the 20th century. This film features some fine performances, especially those from Gary Sweet in the role of his life and the wonderful David Gulpilil who dominates the screen. Quality filmmaking that deserves all the accolades heaped upon it.

     The video transfer is quite reasonable although it does suffer from some niggling flaws.

     The audio is good and serves the film well.

     The extras are fairly comprehensive, albeit with no audio commentary available, which would have been nice. Never mind, as there is plenty of supplementary material here.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Sean Bradford (There is no bio.)
Thursday, April 10, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD RA-61, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko TRW 325 / 32 SFT 10 76cm (32") 16x9. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V2090
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Terry K

Comments (Add)
released version differs from the one described in the review - shinydiscaddict REPLY POSTED

Overall | Dance Me to My Song (Palace Films Collection) (1998) | The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001) | The Tracker (2002) | Alexandra's Project (Palace Films Collection) (2003) | Ten Canoes: Special Edition (2006) | Dr Plonk (Palace Film Collection) (2007)

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

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
Gallery-Photo
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
Studio
Distributor

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

Video

  

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

Audio

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

Extras

    

Menu

    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.

Biographies

    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 

   
  • The Rage In Placid Lake (2:23)
  • 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.

    Summary

        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)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Monday, December 15, 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) NONE
    Overall | Dance Me to My Song (Palace Films Collection) (1998) | The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001) | The Tracker (2002) | Alexandra's Project (Palace Films Collection) (2003) | Ten Canoes: Special Edition (2006) | Dr Plonk (Palace Film Collection) (2007)

    Ten Canoes: Special Edition (2006)

    Ten Canoes: Special Edition (2006)

    If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

    Released 24-Jan-2007

    Cover Art

    This review is sponsored by
    BUY IT

    Details At A Glance

    General Extras
    Category Drama Main Menu Animation
    Theatrical Trailer
    Featurette-Behind The Scenes
    Short Film
    Gallery-Photo
    Rating Rated M
    Year Of Production 2006
    Running Time 87:38 (Case: 92)
    RSDL / Flipper RSDL (82:00)
    Dual Disc Set
    Cast & Crew
    Start Up ?
    Region Coding 4 Directed By Rolf de Heer
    Peter Djigirr
    Studio
    Distributor

    Madman Entertainment
    Starring Rolf de Heer
    Richard Birrinbirrin
    Johnny Buniyira
    Peter Djigirr
    Frances Djulibing
    David Gulpilil
    Jamie Gulpilil
    Crusoe Kurddal
    Peter Minygululu
    Case ?
    RPI $34.95 Music None Given


    Video Audio
    Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1
    Audio Dolby Digital 5.1
    Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
    16x9 Enhancement
    16x9 Enhanced
    Video Format 576i (PAL)
    Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 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

        A film by Rolf de Heer and the Ramingining people, Ten Canoes is reputedly the first big-screen film ever made in an ancient, indigenous language. Set a thousand years ago, in Northern Arnhem land, Ten Canoes is a surprisingly funny parable of forbidden love, which remains relevant and compelling today. Critically acclaimed, Ten Canoes swept the 2006 AFI Awards, winning for Best Film, Best Direction, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Sound. It is also won a Jury Prize "Un Certain Regard" at Festival De Cannes 2006.

        "One hundred and fifty spears, ten canoes, three wives...trouble."

        Set in a mythical past, Ten Canoes is presented as a story the Ramingining people's ancestors, told in turn, about their ancestors: The old and wise Minygululu (Peter Minygululu), leads a group of men from his village up river for goose egg gathering. First the men will have to build ten canoes for the journey, and later build a campsite amongst the tree-tops to keep them safe from crocodiles.

        Meanwhile, Minygululu is well aware that his younger brother, Dayindi (Jamie Gulpilil), has his young lustful eyes set on Minygululu's third, and youngest wife. With tribal law in danger of being broken, Minygululu tells Dayindi a parallel, ancestral story, which acts as a stern cautionary tale, to "help him live proper way". The story unfolds over many days, and Dayindi, and indeed the viewers, will need to learn patience to appreciate the art and intricacies of Minygululu's story-telling.

        Minygululu's cautionary tale is about Yeeralparil (also played by Jamie Gulpilil), a young single man who desires one of the wives of his older brother, Ridjimiraril (Crusoe Kurddal). Around this simple tale of forbidden love, off-shoots stories of magic, kidnapping, murder, revenge, and salvation.

        Although the story is told in an indigenous language, with very naturalistic performances by a cast of first-time Aboriginal actors, there are contemporary English subtitles to accompany the dialogue, and an often cheeky and irreverently fun, English narration by David Gulpilil.

       Remarkably filmed on location in the crocodile-invested swamps of Northern Arhem land, and co-directed by Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr, Ten Canoes has a feeling of authenticity that almost makes it feel like an ethnographic documentary, rather than an entertaining drama. As the DVD's extras reveal, this was achieved from an extensive study of, and collaboration with, the Ramingining people. Furthermore, Production Designer, Beverley Freeman molded the look and feel of the film around anthropologist, Dr. Donald Thomson's mid-1930s black and white photographs. It is accepted that Thomson was the first white person to come in contact with these people, and as such, his extensive photographs record images of a time before their traditional culture was impacted by white civilization.

        Although Ten Canoes naturally found an audience amongst the arthouse cinema crowd, and the international film festival circuit, it might find a new audience on DVD.

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    Transfer Quality

    Video

        Overall the transfer is very good. Ian Jones' wonderful cinematography captures the raw and untamed beauty of the wetlands of Australia's top end; and I recommend watching this DVD with a projector or on a large screen.

        The transfer is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is 16x9 enhanced. However, I understand that the original theatrical aspect ratio was 2.35:1, and furthermore, the DVD's cover incorrectly claims the DVD's transfer is 2.35:1.

        The sharpness is good throughout most of the film, as seen with the detail in the bush-land image at 9:49, but occasionally the image can be a little soft, such as the face at 19:19. The shadow detail and black level are also mostly good. For example, consider the scene inside the dark interior of the hut at 69:54.

        Colour is used extensively in the story-telling, as the film is set in three different time periods. The colours range from black and white, through to a rich palette of well-saturated colours.

        The image occasionally appears to suffer from MPEG artefacts, such as pixelization. For example, consider the blocky image of the forest at 19:58.

        There is no problem with Film-To-Video or film artefacts.

        English subtitles are provided, and are player-generated and thus optional.

        This is a Single-Sided, Dual-Layered disc, with the layer change placed at 82:00. The feature is divided into 13 chapters.

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

    Audio

        There are two audio options for the feature, both delivered with Dolby Digital 5.1 encoding: The first is with Aboriginal dialogue only, while the second is the theatrical version of the film, which adds English narration by David Gulpilil. Note, the DVD's cover promises a dts 5.1 track which is not present on the DVD.

        The dialogue quality and audio sync seemed fine.

        The score seems limited to some source music, and very occasional use of traditional music, such as during the "death dance".

        The surround presence and LFE activity is limited. As a dialogue-based drama, the surround sound mix is very front-heavy, with a lot of dialogue from the centre speaker. The rear speakers are used effectively at times to provide some ambience, such as the sounds of the bush-land setting.

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

    Extras

        There are quite a few extras spread over two discs.

    Menu

        A simple menu with audio.

    Disc One

    Featurettes

        Presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced, there are three observational documentaries, without narration, showing the construction of some of the films props and sets by the Ramingining people:

    Mini Documentaries

        Presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 1.85:1, non-16x9 enhanced, these five shorts are the results from teaching local Ramingining students the basics of filmmaking.

    Theatrical Trailer

    Palace Film Trailers

    Disc Two

    Aerial Map of Arnhem Land

        A combination of satellite images, aerial photography, and computer animation.

    Thomson Time Photo Gallery

        A look at some of Anthropologists, Dr. Donald Thomson's photographs from the 1930s, which inspired the look of Ten Canoes.

    People, Place and Ten Canoes Gallery

        A long series of photographic stills from the film's production, featuring the main cast and locations.

    Interview with Peter Djigirr

        Running for only about four minutes, the film's Co-Director and Actor speaks briefly about the "white invasion" and subsequent loss of his people's culture and tribal law.

    Interview with Rolf de Heer

        Running for an even shorter time, and recorded on-set between takes, de Heer, as the film's Producer, Co-Writer, and Co-Director, briefly outlines the genesis of the film project.

    DVD ROM Content

        Study Guide

    Madman Propaganda

    R4 vs R1

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

        Ten Canoes does not seem to have been released on DVD in Region 1.

    Summary

        Ten Canoes is a delicately paced film that will reward the patient.

    The video quality is good overall.

    The audio quality is good, albeit a little limited.

    The extras are genuine and interesting.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
    Monday, March 05, 2007
    Review Equipment
    DVDSony RDR-HX715 DVD recorder, using HDMI output
    DisplaySamsung 106cm Plasma TV (42 Inch). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
    AmplificationSony STR DE-545
    SpeakersJamo

    Other Reviews NONE
    Comments (Add)
    Aspect ratio cut = less than three points for Video - Tom (read my bio)
    Aspect ratio - wolfgirv
    Extra Documentary - penguin (there is no bio)
    Aspect Ratio again - Gary Couzens
    More about the aspect ratio - Gary Couzens
    aspect ratio - penguin (there is no bio)
    Blu-ray release - penguin (there is no bio)

    Overall | Dance Me to My Song (Palace Films Collection) (1998) | The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001) | The Tracker (2002) | Alexandra's Project (Palace Films Collection) (2003) | Ten Canoes: Special Edition (2006) | Dr Plonk (Palace Film Collection) (2007)

    Dr Plonk (Palace Film Collection) (2007)

    Dr Plonk (Palace Film Collection) (2007)

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    Released 12-Mar-2008

    Cover Art

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    Details At A Glance

    General Extras
    Category Comedy Featurette-The Making of Dr Plonk
    Featurette-Juggling Dr Plonk
    Featurette-The Ball Crazy Dog
    Featurette-The Hand Cranked Camera
    Featurette-The Dr Plonk Score
    DVD-ROM Extras-15 page studyguide - PDF
    Theatrical Trailer-Dr Plonk
    Teaser Trailer-Madman Trailers
    Rating Rated G
    Year Of Production 2007
    Running Time 81:14
    RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
    Start Up Menu
    Region Coding 4 Directed By Rolf de Heer
    Studio
    Distributor

    Madman Entertainment
    Starring Nigel Lunghi
    Paul Blackwell
    Magda Szubanski
    Wayne Anthoney
    Quentin Kenihan
    Mike Rann
    Phoebe Paterson de Heer
    Case Amaray-Transparent
    RPI $24.95 Music Graham Tardif


    Video Audio
    Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
    Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
    16x9 Enhancement No
    Video Format 576i (PAL)
    Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 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

        Very few filmmakers would dare follow a film like Ten Canoes with a homage to the silent era of cinema, but that's exactly what Rolf de Heer has done with his 2007 film, Dr Plonk. The film is not only a tribute to Chaplin, Keaton and the like, but to all those who pioneered the road to modern cinema.

        The idea for the film was born when Rolf discovered 20,000 feet of expired film stock in his production office. He wondered how the film stock would look if it was exposed in a camera. This immediately brought thoughts of the silent era and in an instant Rolf de Heer's next project was realised. The prospect of making a genuine comedy also excited Rolf, as this was uncharted territory for him as a filmmaker. In addition, it was very important for the story to have relevance with a modern audience and this was cleverly accomplished in his screenplay.

        If the silent film concept was to be fully realised, they would need to use a camera that was consistent with the period. A trial of such a camera failed due to the incompatibility of the camera with the modern film stock. A suitable compromise was reached when a slightly more modern camera (from the 1940's) was sourced. This camera had the important modification of a hand cranking mechanism, which delivered outstanding authenticity. In combination with the use of older camera lenses and the expired film stock, Rolf de Heer was able to achieve an incredible result. Although some modern technology was used during production, the general aim was to restrict this usage to a minimum.

        As was the case in the silent era, no artificial lighting was used during exterior scenes and obviously, there was no requirement for sound. This enabled the production to use a small crew; some scenes only required an actor, camera operator and director. The limitations of the production also helped keep the budget quite low by conventional standards.

        In post-production, selected scenes had to be degraded, because even expired modern film stock has a much finer grain than the stock used years ago. This resulted in an image that was very sharp in comparison. Because the story of Dr Plonk involves a time machine, it was decided that current day scenes would have a stronger degree of sharpness than those taking place in 1907.

        In the year 1907 the genius inventor and scientist, Dr Plonk (Nigel Lunghi) toils day in and day out in his laboratory. His wife, Mrs. Plonk (Magda Szubanski), together with his less than competent assistant, Paulus (Paul Blackwell) and their feisty little Jack Russell Terrier, Tiberius (Reg the dog) are his constant company. While doing a series of equations, Dr Plonk discovers that the world will end in 101 years. He needs hard proof of his theory, so with the help of Paulus, he constructs a time machine that will travel backwards and forward in time. A series of adventures and misadventures finally delivers Dr Plonk to the year 2007 and to the source of his theory. However, the immediate problem for Dr Plonk is not the world ending, but the fact that he now has an entire modern day police force in hot pursuit.

        Dr Plonk is great entertainment for the whole family. It is also a courageous and ambitious film from a filmmaker who refuses to be pigeonholed.

    Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

    Transfer Quality

    Video

        Dr Plonk is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1:33.1, which is not 16x9 enhanced.

        Keeping in mind the ambition of Dr Plonk was to resemble an old silent film, the degree of sharpness and clarity in the transfer was really good throughout. Black and white tones exhibited beautiful contrast and shadow detail was impressive.

        There were no MPEG artefacts in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were not an issue and film artefacts were non-existent.

        Naturally, subtitles were not required. There is however, English intertitles which are common in all silent films and help to convey the story.

        This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc.The layer change could not be located.

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

    Audio

        There is very little to comment on regarding audio. There is only one audio track on the DVD, Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

        The original music score by Graham Tardif is quite an achievement. Graham has written musical scores for many of Rolf de Heer's films including, Bad Boy Bubby, The Tracker and Alexandra's Project to name just a few. Naturally, his score for Dr Plonk runs for the entire film without a moments silence and in many ways, this is the dialogue of the film. The music is brilliantly performed by the three piece Melbourne group, The Stiletto Sisters (Hope Csutoros on violin, Judy Gunson on piano accordion and Jo To on double bass). The additional performer on the soundtrack is Sam White on piano. The original concept of the entire score being played on an old Wurlitzer Organ was scrapped in favour of this small ensemble. In the end, this was clearly the right decision.

        The surround channels and the subwoofer were not used.

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

    Extras

        

    Menu

        The main menu is animated with scenes from the film and features a looped sample of Graham Tardif's music.

     

    Featurette - The Making of Dr Plonk (19:18)

        Filmed during the production of Dr Plonk, this extra features many on-set interviews with cast and crew members. Plenty of behind-the-scenes footage has also been incorporporated.

    Juggling Dr Plonk (5:02)

        This piece was also filmed during the production of Dr Plonk and features on-set interviews.Nigel Lunghi displays his street performing abilities by juggling five oranges while discussing his casting as Dr Plonk.

    The Ball Crazy Dog (7:18)

        Featuring on-set interviews with cast members, this extra focuses on Reg the dog and his obsession with chasing balls.

    The Hand Cranked Camera (8:35)

        Director of Photography, Judd Overton and Rolf de Heer discuss the principals of the photography in Dr Plonk. Again, this was filmed during the production of the film and features on-set interviews, together with film footage.

    The Dr Plonk Score (17:05) 

        Graham Tardif talks about writing the score and about working with a small, talented group of musicians.

    Dr Plonk Studyguide - DVD-Rom

        A 15 page studyguide about the film in PDF format.

    Original Theatrical Trailer

        Dr Plonk (1:33)

    Madman Film Trailers

  • The Major and The Minor (2:15)
  • M. Hulot's Holiday (1:39)
  • Metropolis (2:37)
  • Early Summer (4:25)

    R4 vs R1

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

        At the time of this review, there is no R1 edition of Dr Plonk available.

    Summary

         Rolf de Heer's, Dr Plonk is a wonderful tribute to the silent era of cinema. It's also confirmation that old expired film stock still has a practical purpose. The film is nicely presented on DVD in this edition from Madman.

        The transfers are both excellent.

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


     

  • Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Friday, December 12, 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

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    Comments (Add)
    Cute dog in film - NewcastleBoy (read my bio) REPLY POSTED