In Bruges (Blu-ray) (2008)
Featurette-When in Bruges
Featurette-A Boat Trip Around Bruges
|Year Of Production||2008|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Martin McDonagh|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Selected to headline and open the Sundance Film Festival, In Bruges is far from yet another another Guy Ritchie-style, bullets-and-bravado comedy as promised in its trailers. Rather, In Bruges is almost impossible to pigeonhole or predict. Written and directed by the talented Martin McDonagh, In Bruges is an excellent character study that ping pongs between black comedy and heavy tragedy. Colin Farrell provides an outstanding performance, and it is no surprise he won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Meanwhile, McDonagh won a BAFTA, and was also nominated for an Oscar, for Best Original Screenplay. The film and its beautiful fairytale setting of Bruges both look simply gorgeous in high definition.
In Bruges writer-director is Martin McDonagh, a brilliant English-born, Irish playwright, who has become the first author since Shakespeare to have four productions running simultaneously in London. In 2006 McDonagh wrote and directed his first short film, Six Shooter, which won an Oscar. In Bruges is his first feature-length movie and based on his success to date, I imagine that in coming years he will become as famous for filmmaking as he is for his plays.
Interestingly, In Bruges roughly follows the structure of a three-act play. This is not unusual for films, but what is different here is that the three acts do not focus on and develop a single conflict in the plot. Rather, each act develops its own conflicts, involving different aspects of the same central characters, with common themes running throughout. Indeed, the plot serves the characters, rather than the characters serving the plot. In Bruges is a genuine character study, where the story, and all its sudden plot twists and turns, allows us to learn more about the characters.
The story opens with two Irish hitmen, Ray (Colin Farrell) and Ken (Brendan Gleeson), being ordered to hide out in Bruges, Belgium, following their recently botched job. The beautifully-preserved medieval tourist town is a kaleidoscope of cathedrals, canals, and cobblestone. The very experienced Ken has a calmness developed from many murders, and he sees this is an opportunity to sightsee. Meanwhile Ray acts like a spoilt and sullen child. He spends his days dragging his feet around, ever-complaining and whining - he's only interested in going to the pub, until he meets the attractive and mysterious Chloë (Clémence Poésy). The two men are waiting for further instructions from their boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes). At first Harry seems to be more of a plot device than a character - like Godot - but when he finally appears its clear why he is feared by the two men.
The film is filled with wonderful images and poignant symbolism. One of my favourites is when Ray and Ken are confronted in a local gallery by Bosch's morbid and unsettling vision of the damned. The horrific images of demons, despair, and flayed flesh strike a chord with both men, for during the story, both will have to battle their consciences for different reasons. But In Bruges is far from a simple morality play. The cathartic laughs drain away in the third act, leaving us with a startling vision of the naked desperation of ugly characters searching vainly for redemption, but only finding the logical conclusion for their twisted moral codes.
In Bruges is presented with a high definition transfer having been encoded using AVC MPEG-4 compression. It is presented in a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in a native 16x9 frame. This is the film's original theatrical ratio.
The sharpness of the image is excellent throughout, for example consider the detailed Bruges cityscape at 52:15. The black level is excellent, with deep and true blacks. The shadow detail is also excellent, for example look at the textures in the dimly-lit scene around the canal at 9:43.
Colour is used extensively in the storytelling, and the natural lighting hues are magnificent. Often the colour palette is muted, which makes the occasional rich or warm hues of the film really stand out. The skin tones are accurate.
While some of the film stock appears a little grainy at times, there are no problems with MPEG artefacts. There are also no Film-To-Video Artefacts such as aliasing, nor film artefacts such as small black or white marks. This is an excellent transfer of a pristine print.
Strangely, no subtitles are present - perhaps a first for any DVD or Blu-ray movie I have reviewed.
This is a BD-50 (50 GB) Blu-ray disc, with the. The feature is divided into 20 chapters.
Presented theatrically with a choice of dts, SDDS, and Dolby Digital Surround audio, this Blu-ray offer two English audio choices for the feature: The first is Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps), and the second is lossless English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. Both surround audio options are magnificent in their clarity and range, but I particularly enjoyed the DTS-HD Master Audio, which sounded fuller and deeper.
Despite the thick Irish accents, most of the dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent.
The delicate piano-based musical score is credited to Carter Burwell, but as with some other scores he has composed, such as his score for No Country for Old Men, I never really noticed it.
In Bruges is a dialogue-based film, with a very subtle sound design. Although the rear speakers don't get much to chew on, along with the subwoofer, they support both the film's delicate score and the sound effects as required. Strangely, I the overall volume of the film seems to jump up considerably during the film's climax.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras are limited but genuine. They are presented in stereo, and in standard definition.
As with other BDs, the menu can be accessed while the film is playing.
There are a number of scenes, but no option for audio commentary, nor an explanation as to why they were cut.
A collection of fluffed lines and out-takes.
Featuring interviews with the main cast and the writer/director, this extra also includes behind-the-scenes footage, in this look at the setting for the story.
The writer/director discusses how his holiday to Bruges a few years ago inspired the story.
Footage taken from a trip down the Bruges canals, accompanied by scrolling text with information about Bruges.
A very strange extra, this is a montage of the characters cursing from this profanity-laden script.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Strangely, In Bruges has not been released in the US as yet.
In Bruges is one of the best independent films of recent years, and this Blu-ray is the best way to enjoy this film at home.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is also excellent.
The extras are limited but genuine.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3 (HDMI 1.3) with Upscaling, using HDMI output|
|Display||Panasonic High Definition 50' Plasma (127 cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Samsung Pure Digital 6.1 AV Receiver (HDMI 1.3)|