In Tranzit (2008)

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Released 22-Jun-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Eagle Entertainment Trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2008
Running Time 108:04
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Tom Roberts
Studio
Distributor
Thema Productions
Eagle Entertainment
Starring Vera Farmiga
Thomas Kretschmann
John Malkovich
Natalie Press
Daniel Brühl
Patrick Kennedy
Ingeborga Dapkunaite
Evgeny Mironov
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Dan Jones


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
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

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Plot Synopsis

    It is indicated that In Tranzit is based upon a true account. In the winter of 1946, after the end of World War II, a large number of German soldiers were still in Russian hands. One such group is taken to a Transit Camp near Leningrad where all the guards are female. The guards’ job is to weed out the German officers who had belonged to the brutal SS. The job of the Germans was to survive.

     There were fanatics and humane individuals on both sides. Many of the female guards, for example Vera (Ingeborga Dapkunaite), had suffered and lost their entire families during the dreadful 900 day siege of Leningrad so were understandably hostile to the Germans. Others are more understanding, such as the camp doctor Natalia (Vera Farmiga) and the vulnerable Zina (Natalie Press). While they are surprised at first to be guarding male prisoners, it becomes apparent that this is a ploy by Colonel Pavlov (John Malkovich), head of the Leningrad NKVD, to use the female wiles of the guards to weed out the SS officers within the prisoners. Among the Germans are Max (Thomas Kretschmann) and Klaus (Daniel Bruhl). They obviously have a past together, but were either of them soldiers in the SS?

     As the bleak Russian winter continues, gradually understanding and indeed fraternisation grows, such as that between Zina and the German Peter (Patrick Kennedy). Also growing is the attraction between Max and Natalia, despite the fact that Natalia’s badly wounded husband Andrei (Evgeny Mironov) has been allowed by Pavlov to remain in the camp as part of the deal made with Natalia to inform on the Germans. With hidden secrets and informers on both sides, decisions must be made that have life and death consequences. Who can be trusted? Can the individuals on both sides, broken by the terrible war they have endured, find peace and, perhaps, love amid the Russian winter?

     In Tranzit is an interesting film dealing with a period of history little known in the West when millions of captured German soldiers remained in Russia after the end of World War II. But while this is the historical background, this film is very much an intimate, personal story, made very watchable by the performances of Farmiga, Kretschmann and Malkovich. The supporting cast is also good with Mironov excellent as the mute Andrei, who knows much more that he lets on, although Daniel Bruhl is underused. This perhaps is more the fault of the script, which veers quickly between gritty realism and romanticism, with a bit of mystery added, but does not seem to know where it is going. For example, after the excellent set up of the first 40 minutes, it tends to get bogged down in various relationships. As well, there is very little film time between the initial hostility between the groups and the full on fraternisation at a dance attended by the prisoners and, it seems, a wide group of frustrated Russian women. I really have doubts that the terrible siege of Leningrad, which cost the lives of millions of Russians through disease and starvation, would be forgotten so quickly.

     Yet, In Tranzit has a number of things in its favour as well as the acting. The film looks good, with a desaturated colour palate that gives a silver tinge to the drab greys and white snow that well reflects the conditions of a Russian winter. Colour is pretty much absent so when it does occur, such as the yellow paper flower near the end, the impact is immediate and effective. The score, with a combination of orchestra and individual piano, also effectively supports the mood of the film. So while the plot is a bit muddled, In Tranzit has a great cast, looks very good and deals with a period of history little known in the West. It is a film that will reward those prepared to be patient.

     Personal gripe: I find it annoying when a disc starts with trailers that need to be skipped. This one has 5 that can also be accessed via the extras menu. I like trailers, but I don’t like having to skip 5 of them individually, or having to access the disc menu from the remote, every time I want to watch the film.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    In Tranzit is presented in a ratio of 1.85:1, which I think is the original ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. As noted above, the colour scheme is deliberately drab and desaturated which if effective but does affect the skin tones. Sharpness is good, blacks and shadow detail fine and I saw occasional grain and only a couple of very minor film artefacts. There are no subtitles.

     There are numerous Russians in the supporting cast and I have read that their dialogue was spoken in Russian and the English added later. If so they did a great job for I didn’t notice any lip synchronisation problems.

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

Audio

    Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps that is surround encoded. It does a great job. This is a dialogue driven film with no explosions and only an occasional gun shot so does not need anything more elaborate. The dialogue is easy to understand, the snow crunches appropriately underfoot, effects and music occur in the surrounds and my sub did support the music. Nothing to complain about here.

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

Extras

Image Gallery

21 production stills. No music, use the remote to advance to the next still.

Movie Previews

These trailers play on start up (and need to be skipped or go to menu using the remote). They can also be selected from “Extras” in the Main Menu. Included is Arn (2:19 min), The Red Baron (2:01 min), American Violet (2:13 min), At the Edge of the World (2:28 min), Know Thy Enemy (1:52 min) and Tenure (2:00 min).

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 notes I have read indicate their release has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track and an 8:13 minute Making Of. There is however some criticism of the video. There is also a Region 2 Dutch release with DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks and no extras. I doubt that a more robust audio track would do much with this dialogue driven film and can see no pressing reason to go beyond our Region 4 release unless you really need a 5.1 audio track.

Summary

    In Tranzit is the account of what happened over one Russian winter. While the plot is a bit muddled, it has a good cast, looks very good and is presented on a DVD with good video and audio, but very limited extras. .In Tranzit is an interesting film dealing with a period of history little known in the West that will reward those prepared to be patient and go with the story.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, March 04, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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