Under the Sand (Sous le Sable) (Directors Suite) (2000)

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Released 18-Nov-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Interviews-Cast-with Charlotte Rampling & Bruno Cremer
Theatrical Trailer-Under The Sand
Teaser Trailer-Madman Propaganda
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 92:28
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By François Ozon

Madman Entertainment
Starring Charlotte Rampling
Bruno Cremer
Jacques Nolot
Alexandra Stewart
Pierre Vernier
Andrée Tainsy
Maya Gaugler
Damien Abbou
David Portugais
Pierre Soubestre
Agathe Teyssier
Laurence Martin
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Philippe Rombi

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown French Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    I first experienced the work of French auteur, François Ozon many years ago through his short films. One of them still haunts me to this day. Ozon's 1997, See The Sea (Regarde la mer) is one of my all-time favourite short films. It is an incredibly disturbing and chilling little film that will make you think twice about the degree of hospitality you give to a stranger.

    Under The Sand (Sous le sable) is Ozon's fourth feature and the first of his films to feature veteran actor, Charlotte Rampling. This slow burning character study is poignant, erotic and evocative, which pretty much encompasses all the characteristics of a film by François Ozon.

    The story begins with a seemingly devoted middle-aged couple arriving at their summer house in the South of France. Marie Drillon (Charlotte Rampling) and her husband of 25 years, Jean (Bruno Cremer) remove the furniture covers and settle back for a long anticipated vacation.

    The next day they stroll down to an isolated section of beach and relax in the warm sunshine. Jean tells Marie that he is going in for a swim and leaves her to read her book. Time passes and Marie becomes aware that she can't see Jean anywhere. She asks the few people on the beach, but nobody has seen any sign of him. Marie notifies the authorities and a search begins, with no result. Jean has simply vanished and is soon presumed dead from drowning.

    Time passes and on the face of it Marie is living a normal life back in the city. At a small, informal dinner party Marie talks openly about her husband, as if he was present. This seems to make some of the other guests feel a little awkward. Marie is in total denial that anything tragic has transpired and she dismisses all the matchmaking attempts by one of her girlfriends.

    Later that night Marie returns to her apartment and the source of this denial is revealed. In her imagination, she has built a defence from her emotional pain and isolation. In Marie's world, Jean is still very much alive. He stands by the bedroom door and enquires if she enjoyed the dinner party. Marie confides in him like a friend and tells him all about Vincent (Jacques Nolot), one of the guests who showed an interest in her. Jean is very casual and seems happy for Marie, even offering her advice.

    Subconsciously, Marie seems to acknowledge that Jean's absence is permanent, but she can't liberate herself from the anticipation and hope of her husband's return. Soon, her world of reality and fantasy is further confused when she becomes romantically linked with Vincent.

    François Ozon is a master of audience manipulation and he sustains an air of ambiguity for a thinking audience. Like most of his work, Under The Sand is also a hauntingly beautiful film that tends to linger in your memory.

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Transfer Quality


    This Director's Suite release by Madman, obviously supersedes their previous DVD release of the film in April 2003. Click here to read the 2003 review by Tony Rogers. This release has some small differences from the previous edition.

    Under The Sand is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.80:1, which is 16x9 enhanced. This is close to the films  correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

    Although there is just a hint of softness in the transfer, overall I was fairly impressed with the level of sharpness and clarity. Blacks were bold and clean. Shadow detail was also well defined.

    Colours appeared to be well balanced with no related problems.

    There were no MPEG artefacts noticed. Film-to-video artefacts weren't a significant issue and films artefacts were negligible.

    The film is presented with English subtitles. These can be selected from the menu in either bold white or yellow. Both are removable and easily legible.

    This is a DVD 5 single layer disc; as such there is no layer change.

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


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

    Although my comprehension of French isn't a strong point, the dialogue quality seemed fine. The limited amount of English dialogue in the film was clear and concise.

    There were no obvious issues with audio sync.

    The original music in the film is credited to Philippe Rombi. His score is mostly sombre and atmospheric, which enhances the mood of the film really well.

    The surround channels delivered some excellent results throughout the film. In particular, during the beach scenes the rear channels carried wave sounds, amercing the viewer in the scene. Music was also spread across all channels.

    Likewise, the subwoofer was put to work during occasional passages of music and the beach scenes.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




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

Featurette - Interview with Charlotte Rampling and Bruno Cremer (7:44) 

    Charlotte and Bruno talk very brief about the film, but it's way too short to have any substance. It certainly doesn't compensate for the missing audio commentary.

Theatrical Trailer - Under The Sand (1:12)

Director's Suite Trailers

  • The Science Of Sleep (2:25)
  • The Edge Of Heaven (3:33)
  • Paris, Texas (2:08)
  • Coeurs (1:50)

    R4 vs R1

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

        As previously mentioned, this Director's Suite release supersedes the earlier Madman 2003 edition of the film. The text filmographies, which were on the last edition, have been omitted this time.

        I will compare this new Madman edition with the region free, US version released by Fox/Lorber - Winstar in December 2001.The US edition features the same, "Interview with Charlotte Rampling and Bruno Cremer" and theatrical trailer. However, it also features the addition of the filmographies, an audio commentary with François Ozon , a French Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix and the addition of Spanish subtitles. The US version also claims a 16x9 enhanced transfer in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1.

        Although the local version is up to scratch transfer wise, the inclusion of the director's audio commentary tips the scales in favour of the US edition.


        François Ozon's, Under The Sand is a slow burning character study, encompassing all the traits of this talented filmmaker.

        The video and audio transfers are both quite good.

        The selection of extras is very basic and a little disappointing.



  • Ratings (out of 5)


    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Wednesday, December 16, 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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