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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Eden Is West (Eden à l'Ouest) (Directors Suite) (2009)

Eden Is West (Eden à l'Ouest) (Directors Suite) (2009)

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Released 15-Mar-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Deleted Scenes
Featurette-Making Of
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Directors Suite trailers
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 106:47
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (77:20) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Costa-Gavras

Madman Entertainment
Starring Riccardo Scamarcio
Odysseas Papaspiliopoulos
Léa Wiazemsky
Tess Spentzos
Kristen Ross
Stella-Melina Vasilaki
Gil Alma
Eric Caravaca
Marissa Triandafyllidou
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Armand Amar

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French 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 English (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Costa-Gavras is best known for his political thriller films Z, State of Siege and Missing. Z, released in 1969, began a film genre all on its own, the documentary-drama, so named for its adaptation based on real events, the lack of geographical references (the film is about 1960s right-wing Greek politics, but this is not explicitly mentioned in the film) and Gavras' shooting style which resembled a news report or documentary. For Gavras' first American production, Missing, filmed in 1982, Universal Pictures offered him the luxury of using their expensive camera equipment, including cranes to shoot the movie. Since that film was to be made in the style of Z, about the disappearance of an American citizen during General Pinochet's takeover of Chile in 1973, he declined, shooting the film with his small French crew (also, Chile is not referenced in the film, it is inferred). Eden is West (Eden à l'Ouest) covers the social injustices experienced by an illegal immigrant trying to travel across Europe, however, unlike Gavras' previous political pictures which were also 'message' movies, this film is told like a story.

    Eden is West's blurb is a reference to Homer's Odyssey; "from the Aegean Sea to the shining lights of man's odyssey to a better life". Just like The Odyssey, the film begins with our main character Elias (played by Riccardo Scamarcio) on a boat in the Aegean Sea. The difference here is that Elias is an illegal immigrant who is forced to jump off the boat after it is raided and has to swim to shore for safety. Here he lands at the hotel resort named 'Eden Club-Paradise' where he is mistaken for a lowly employee. He meets a magician named Nick (Ulrich Tukur) who hires him to do some tricks and tells him about Paris. Elias sees this as an invitation so he embarks upon travelling to Paris, despite the fact he has no idea how to get there. His travels reveal all sorts of exploits from people ripping him off, ditching him while hitchhiking in the mountains and sexual exploitation too, including a middle-aged German tourist, Christina (Juliane Köhler). However, like Homer's hero Odysseus (or Ulysses in Roman myths) Elias is also the recipient of kindness from strangers in the form of food, clothing, shelter and money to assist him upon his travels. Elias reaches Paris in the film's final act where he locates Nick the magician, who firstly pretends not to know him, then gives him a wand. Elias is perplexed after coming to the West and his idea of paradise to receive a wand. The ending of the film, with the Eiffel tower and the scenes of the riot police, for me sum up the two diametric elements of Elias' positive and negative experiences of the West.

    John Steinbeck's novel East of Eden, the story of an Irish immigrant family settling in Salinas Valley, California is another reference drawn upon for the plot of the film. Costa-Gavras has stated that Elia Kazan's film adaptation, starring James Dean in his first starring role, was similar in that most immigrants consider the West a paradise compared to their homelands. As the film was co-written by Gavras with collaborator Jean-Claude Grumberg maybe it is a reference to Gavras' own journey to leaving Greece and studying in France in the 1950s. As his father was a communist sympathiser, Gavras was denied entry to study in the United States as a young man. This turn of events has had a huge impact upon all of Gavras' films from his first in 1965, Compartiment Tueurs to this film, released last year in 2009.

    Eden is West was a Greek-French production. This was the first time that Gavras shot a film in Greece, filming mainly on the island of Crete. As with all Gavras pictures, we are never told explicitly what country our antagonist is in, only that Paris, France is 'paradise'. The film features English, French, German and Greek dialogue and Elias' dialogue is a made-up language for the purpose of the film, done by Gavras and Grumberg to highlight Elias' alienation with the people he meets on his journey.

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Transfer Quality


    Eden is West features some nice scenic cinematic shots from beach sunsets to white mountainous panoramic views to pastoral farmlands.

    The aspect ratio of the film is 1:85:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

    The main presentation takes up 5.4 gb of space on a dual-layered DVD that is 7.1 gb in size overall, including the extras. The average bitrate is okay at 6.96 m/b per sec.

    The cinematography features a colour palette with good saturation and warm colours. Shadow detail is also done well.

    There are no film artefacts present in the video transfer.

    Unfortunately, subtitles are burnt-in. This may be due to the multilingual nature of the film.

    The RSDL change occurs at 77:20 during a scene change.

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


    I was genuinely surprised by the separation of channels employed on the main Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The soundtrack makes good use of pan effects and aural cues from varying speakers.

    There are two soundtrack options available from the setup menu. The first is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 kbps, the second is a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 kbps.

    Dialogue isn't necessarily clear, but that doesn't matter so much in light of the context of the film. Audio is synchronised however.

    The music by Armand Amar uses mainly European folk instrumentals to compliment Elias' travels along the way to Paris.

    The surround channel usage is discrete and well-mixed for the film.

    The subwoofer is not used often, but it is used for an explosion and some low-bass sounds to emphasise tension in the plot.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Deleted Scenes (9:05)

This featurette also includes some behind-the-scenes locations to the deleted scenes which are shown immediately afterwards in a 2:35:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions. There are 9 deleted scenes overall shown in sequence.

Making Of-Featurette (28:09)

This making of-featurette is shown in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions. It is presented in French with English subtitles. The charming thing about this extra is the fact that it is not like standard contemporary making-of 'electronic press kit' type bonus extras found on most DVD releases. Director Costa-Gavras and lead actor Riccardo Scamarcio give lengthy interviews about Eden is West's subject, its characters, situations and their thoughts on the development of the film. We also get to see Gavras' inclusive directing style during rehearsals for scenes.

Theatrical Trailer (1:50)

The original theatrical trailer is in French, subtitled in English. It is shown in an aspect ratio of 2:35:1, 16x9 enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Directors Suite Trailers

Four Directors Suite trailers are included for The Science of Sleep by Michel Gondry, The Ax by Costa-Gavras, Under the Sand by François Ozon and Exils by by Tony Gatlif

R4 vs R1

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

    Eden is West has been released previously in Region 2 in France. The French DVD release is similar to the Region 4 version in video and audio transfers and extras, except for the addition of an audio commentary by director Costa-Gavras and screenwriter Jean-Claude Grumberg, a short 3-minute visual effects extra and a photo gallery.

    The addition of the commentary makes the French release the best available version on DVD, however the Region 4 Madman Directors Suite label release is the best DVD version for English speakers.


    Eden is West may not be in the same class as Costa-Gavras' classic political thrillers Z and Missing, but perhaps that's because it's not a story about immigration, rather it's the story of an immigrant's journey in the West. Also, the fairytale structure of the film makes the characters that Elias meets stereotypical and less than realistic.

    Despite the flaws of the plot, Eden is West is presented with a fine video and audio transfer, with decent extras and is worthwhile if you are a fan of Costa-Gavras' films.

Ratings (out of 5)


© John Stivaktas (I like my bio)
Monday, May 03, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S550 (Firmware updated Version 020), using HDMI output
DisplaySamsung LA46A650 46 Inch LCD TV Series 6 FullHD 1080P 100Hz. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderSony STR-K1000P. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationSony HTDDW1000
SpeakersSony 6.2 Surround (Left, Front, Right, Surround Left, Surround Back, Surround Right, 2 subwoofers)

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