La maison de Nina (2005)

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Released 18-Nov-2009

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 108:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Dembo
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Agnès Jaoui
Sarah Adler
Katia Lewkowicz
Arié Elmaleh
Sébastien Knafo
Adèle Csech
Jérémy Sitbon
Vincent Rottiers
Alexis Pivot
Max Levy
Lola Naymark
Claire Bouanich
Arnaud Marciszewer
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Teddy Lasry


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/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 (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    It is hard to imagine that there are any more stories to be told about the Second World War. Every major battle has been chronicled and played out, usually for tub-thumping purposes. Yet in the French film Le Maison de Nina we have something of an untold story, not of the war but the effect of war on children.

La Maison de Nina is based on a true story of the "Houses of Hope" established by the French government. Reflective of the truth, but not necessarily a real person, Nina is a woman living in the Western part of France. When the Allies pushed the Germans out of this region (mid 1944) Nina began to do her bit by acting as caretaker of a house taking in children - primarily Jewish. All lived in the uncertainty of the fate of their parents, waiting as news began to filter in of people returning to the region. Could this be their parents?

The somewhat idyllic lifestyle of the children and their guardians is irrevocably changed when the first load of children released from the concentration camps of Buchenwald and Auschwitz arrives on their doorstep. These are deeply traumatised children full of the horrors of what they have seen and experienced. Nina, (Agnes Jaoui (The Taste of Others)) is at once strong enough to push the children to move on with their lives and yet patient enough to take the time to work through their pain. As said, the challenge comes in the second act of the film when the concentration camp survivors arrive. In stark contrast to the others these children hang in their own group, unable to trust others. Their faith is only in their God and Gustav (Tomas Lemarquis who played Noi in Noi the Albino) the cruel barrack leader from the camp. He is a shady character who looks after them at a cost. He will use any means necessary to get what the group needs and is drawn into conflict with Nina who sees that he wants to set up his own community, with its own rules, amongst her group.

La Maison de Nina is restrained in its drama. Parents are found and bad news delivered. There are few horror stories but the film is really about healing through love and faith than it is about grand successes. Had this been a Hollywood picture then all the problems would have been solved by the final reel. Instead it is a frank portrait of the difficulties in "unseeing things" particularly where children are concerned.

La Maison de Nina was the last film for director Richard Dembo who died after shooting but before post-production. He was notable for winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film with his first feature La Diagonale du Fou in 1984 and made only two films after that huge success. The film will appeal to drama fans and those who would like to learn about little known heroes in the struggle to reclaim the sanity of Europe after the devastation of the war.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    There is little available information about the original aspect ratio of La Maison de Nina. It looks to me as if it was shot on 35mm film as it has a filmic quality including a slight but acceptable level of grain. The DVD aspect ratio is 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. There is no evidence of cropping.

La Maison de Nina looks pretty good as one might expect from a recent film. The print is clear and free of artefacts or other defects. There are no problems with compression.

The colours are clear and stable and the image is suitably sharp.

The subtitles are in English and burned into the print. They are absent on those scenes in other languages where the main character cannot understand what is being said. The subtitles are clear and easy to read.

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

Audio

   Le Maison de Nina carries a French Dolby Digital language track running at 448 Kb/s.

This is a fairly restrained drama and the absence of a surround track does not seem to have had a great impact on the appreciation of the film. The dialogue can be heard clearly.

There are no technical problems with the soundtrack.

There are no problems with audio sync.

Music in the film is a blend of an original score by Teddy Lasry which features a lot of mournful woodwind and piano works, principally Beethoven, played as therapy by one of the children.

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

Extras

This DVD does not have any extras.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD is not yet available in other English speaking Regions. It can apparently be obtained in France and China.

Summary

   La Maison de Nina tells a rare story about the difficulty of assimilating and returning to society for the devastated youth of Europe after the horrors of the death camps. It is a small film but one worth a watch. The DVD technical quality is fine.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, January 07, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer BDP-LX70A Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayPioneer PDP-5000EX. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR605
SpeakersJBL 5.1 Surround and Subwoofer

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