The Italian (Italianetz) (2005)

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Released 20-Aug-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer-The Italian
Teaser Trailer-Madman Propaganda
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 98:57 (Case: 95)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Andrei Kravchuk
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Kolya Spiridonov
Mariya Kuznetsova
Nikolay Reutov
Jurij Ickov
Denis Moiseenko
Sasha Sirotkin
Polina Vorobieva
Olga Shuvalova
Dima Zemlyanko
Dariya Lesnikova
Rudolf Kuld
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Aleksandr Knaifel


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    The Italian (Italianetz) is the debut feature from Russian filmmaker, Andrei Kravchuk. The film is based on a true story involving a Russian orphanage and in particular, one of the young orphans.

    The film opens on a bleak winter's day in a small town of Russia. A pleasant middle-class Italian couple is being driven to an orphanage to select a child for adoption. The Madam of the orphanage (Mariya Kuznetsova) has organised their visit and a great fuss is made in order to satisfy them - after all, this couple intend to pay good money for the process.

   The Italians choose a six-year-old boy, Vanya (Kolya Spiridonov). At first Vanya is a little bemused by all the attention made around him. He seems to quickly accept the fact that he will soon leave the orphanage and travel to Italy with new parents. The other children are envious of Vanya's good fortune and he soon develops the nickname,"Italian".

    In the days leading up to the official adoption, Vanya becomes concerned and apprehensive about moving to Italy. He believes that if his real mother ever returned to the orphanage to collect him, she would not be able to find him. With some help, he makes the decision to run away from the orphanage and attempt to locate the mother who abandoned him many years before.

    The Italian is an enthralling and moving film that tends to stay with you. Performances from the entire cast are excellent - especially from young Kolya, who carries much of the film. Another standout is the cinematography of Aleksandr Burov - you can almost feel the winter cold through the screen.

    This film was the official Russian entry in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the 2006 Academy Awards.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     The Italian is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.77:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. The correct aspect ratio for the film is reported to be 1.66:1. Unfortunately, this transfer has significant cropping on all sides. A direct comparison with a captured still image taken from a PAL master tape confirms this cropping. This is evident as early as the title sequence, which has half of the director's name (burned-in subtitles) cut from the screen. In general, the subtitles also sit very close to the bottom of the screen throughout the film. Although the cropping isn't always obvious, during a couple of scenes I noticed that certain actors suffered from momentary partial decapitation.

     The quality of the image looks fine, albeit slightly soft. I would strongly assume this to be consistent with the source material - either way, it wasn't a major issue. Blacks were clean and shadow detail was generally very good.

     Colours were deliberately drab, especially in the first half of the film. We don't see a strong and vibrant colour until Vanya leaves the orphanage. All colours on the disc were well balanced, with no obvious problems.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noticed in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were well controlled and film artefacts were negligible.

    The only available subtitles are pale yellow English subtitles, which have a faint dark silhouette. As previously mentioned, they appear quite low on the screen, but are easily legible. These subtitles are also burned into the print and cannot be disabled.

    This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change was easily detected at 59:22.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio track available on the DVD, Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s). This track is surround encoded.

    The dialogue seemed to be clean throughout the film and there were no apparent issues with audio sync.

     The original music score is credited to Aleksandr Knaifel. His score here is very subtle and unassuming. His music adds a nice ambience to the film and is never overstated.

     The surround channels were noticeably active throughout the film without being aggressive.

     Likewise, the subwoofer came to life on occasion, adding nicely to bass effects.

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

Extras

    

Menu

    The main menu is quite basic. It is static, 16x9 enhanced and features a very subtle sample of music from the film.

 

Original Theatrical Trailer - The Italian (1:44 )

Madman Propaganda

  • Nobody Knows (2:00)
  • Romulus, My Father (2:03)
  • The Home Song Stories (1:55)
  • Innocent Voices (2:11)

    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 The Italian , released by Sony Pictures in May 2007.

        This version seems very similar to the R4 Madman release, but there are a couple of differences. The R1 version presents the film in the correct aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and features a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. The Sony release also suffers from cropping, but not quite as heavy as the Madman edition. There is no difference in extras - both versions feature trailers only. As well as English, the R1 version has the addition of French and Spanish subtitles - all of which are removable.

    Summary

        The Italian is an outstanding feature debut for Andrei Kravchuk. This film should charm and move most audiences.

        Despite the poor framing, the video transfer is quite good.

        The audio transfer is also very good.

        The lack of decent extras is a big disappointment.

    Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Tuesday, June 09, 2009
    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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