Samson & Delilah (Blu-ray) (2009)

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Released 17-Mar-2010

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary-Warwick Thornton & Kath Shelper
Featurette-Making Of-Making Samson & Delilah by Beck Cole
Interviews-Crew-Variety Screening Series - Peter Sellars with Warwick Thornt
Interviews-Crew-At The Movies interview with Warwick Thornton
Interviews-Crew-Sunday Arts interview with Warwick Thornton
Short Film-Nana
Short Film-Green Bush
Short Film-Mimi
Short Film-Payback
Theatrical Trailer-Samson & Delilah
Teaser Trailer-Madman Propaganda
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2009
Running Time 100:46
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Warwick Thornton
Studio
Distributor
Footprint Films
Madman Entertainment
Starring Rowan McNamara
Marissa Gibson
Mitjili Napanangka Gibson
Scott Thornton
Matthew Gibson
Peter Bartlett
Noreen Robertson Nampijinpa
Kenrick Martin
Fiona Gibson
Morgaine Wallace
Tony 'Brownie' Brown
Patricia Shelper
Rona McDonald
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $44.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Linear PCM 48/24 5.1
English Dolby Digital 2.0
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English (Burned In) Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Back in December 2009, I reviewed the Madman two-disc DVD edition of Samson & Delilah. I highly recommended this set with a 5 star rating - a very rare occurrence from me. So, how does the Madman Blu-ray edition of Samson & Delilah stack up against its standard definition cousin?

     The follow synopsis has been taken from my review of the Madman DVD edition:

     With four excellent short films to his name and numerous cinematography credits, it's been a patient journey for Australian filmmaker Warwick Thornton. Early in 2009 finally saw the release of his long awaited debut feature film, Samson & Delilah. The idea and concept for the film had been with Thornton for some time. Most of the story is based on his experiences and observations while living in Alice Springs as a teenager. The story also highlights the many "hidden" issues of Indigenous Australia - this is the side that isn't on display for the tourists.

     Warwick Thornton's style of filmmaking is fresh and audacious. He wrote, directed and shot the film, resisting convention by telling the story with minimal dialogue. This, in turn, placed great responsibility at the feet of the actors. They needed to carry the narrative mostly through expression and small gestures - quite a task even for seasoned performers.

     The casting of Samson & Delilah was a brave but calculated commitment. Casting the two lead roles with first-time, non-actors could have killed the film from the outset. Instead, these two young actors deliver assured performances - this is also testament to Thornton's intelligent direction. Because the lead actors had no formal training, Thornton was able to capitalise on their innocence and honesty. It would be criminal of me not to mention the performances of the two other key players in the film. Mitjili Napanangka Gibson lights up the screen as Nana and Scott Thornton (Warwick's older brother) gives a superb performance as the good natured Gonzo.

     Set in central Australia, within a small remote Aboriginal community, Samson & Delilah opens with a scene of poignant irony. Fourteen-year-old Samson (Rowan McNamara) wakes on a thin foam mattress. Charley Pride's Sunshiny Day plays as Samson sits up and deeply inhales petrol fumes from a battered old tin can. In slow motion, he mimes drum beats while holding the can close to his face - Samson's daily routine has begun. This is his escape from the constant boredom of life. Samson's lonely existence is also a silent one, as he never talks. The reason for this is revealed later in the film.

     Samson steps out onto the veranda of the rundown house, where two guitars and a small drum kit are permanently set up. His brother (Matthew Gibson) and two friends prepare for another day, playing the same repetitious piece of reggae music. Meanwhile, down the road Delilah (Marissa Gibson ) administers daily medication to her grandmother, Nana (Mitjili Napanangka Gibson). Delilah spends most of her time caring for Nana and helping with her traditional artwork. Nana trades her paintings to the local store owner (played by assistant producer Peter Bartlett) in return for a meagre supply of goods. Delilah later discovers just how badly Nana has been exploited by the store owner and the local art dealers in town.

     Samson follows Delilah home from the store and takes a position sitting on her front fence. The game of attraction is played out from a distance and although there is no verbal communication between the pair, there seems a clear understanding. This becomes a source of great amusement for Nana, as she teases Delilah about her "new husband". Fate eventually brings Samson and Delilah closer and they leave the small community for Alice Springs. Here they meet a kind-hearted alcoholic, Gonzo (Scott Thornton), sharing his food and shelter under a road bridge. However, living in town has many pitfalls and temptations, especially when surviving on no money or resources. Heartbreak and tragedy is always present on the streets. Samson and Delilah become increasingly aimless and emotionally isolated. But when Gonzo takes a positive step towards self preservation, Delilah also decides to turn the tide on their inevitable destiny.

     In May 2009 Warwick Thornton deservedly picked up the coveted Caméra d'Or at Cannes. During the course of the same year, Samson & Delilah also featured prominently at every film award ceremony in the country. The film picked up 11 nominations at the 2009 AFI (Australian Film Institute) Awards, winning a total of seven, including Best Film. Samson & Delilah was also Australia's official submission in the Foreign Language category at the 82nd Academy Awards in 2010, but unfortunately, it failed to make the nomination list.

     Samson & Delilah is a haunting and emotional film experience that offers hope from utter desolation. It is a stunning debut feature from a very talented filmmaker.

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Transfer Quality

Video

Disclaimer: Please note that this disc has a video resolution of 1080p. It has been reviewed on a display device with a maximum native resolution of 1080i. More information can be found here.

     Like the DVD edition, the Blu-ray of Samson & Delilah is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This Blu-ray has been encoded using MPEG-4 AVC compression and is presented in 1080p.

     In my review of the DVD, I stated, "this is a stunning DVD transfer - one of the best I've seen for some time." I still stand by that claim - but as you would expect, this Blu-ray edition has raised the bar even further. Madman have again certainly done this film great justice. Sharpness and clarity was beautifully consistent throughout. Blacks were strong and shadow detail was outstanding. Switching between the DVD and Blu-ray, I was really pleased with the overall image quality of the Blu-ray. However, the improvement between formats wasn't as obvious as other discs I have compared in the past. This is a credit to the transfer quality of the DVD image. However, the most obvious improvement between the formats lies in the strength of colour. Warwick Thornton captured the colours and feel of Australia's red centre so incredibly well in this film. At times, these stunning colours look three dimensional - it's pure eye candy. Warwick's beautiful compositions are complimented with perfectly balanced and natural colour.

     There were no MPEG artefacts evident in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts and film artefacts were non-existent.

     Samson & Delilah features white English subtitles which seem to be the same as the theatrical print. These subtitles only appear during passages of Warlpiri dialogue. They are easily legible and are non-removable.

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

Audio

     There are three audio tracks available on the Blu-ray, Linear PCM 48kHz/24-bit 5.1 surround audio, Walpiri-English Dolby Digital 2.0 and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0. While I can't particularly comment on the indigenous dialogue, I can confirm that the English dialogue was clear and concise.

     There were no obvious problems with audio sync.

     Although there is no direct on-screen credit, the original music in the film was written by none other than Warwick Thornton. Warwick also selected every piece of non-original music used in the film. Music Supervisor Kim Green worked with Producer Kath Shelper securing the music of various artists, including Charley Pride, Ana Gabriel and Troy Casser-Daley. Each piece of music is used with real purpose and was especially selected during the writing process.

     Naturally, the Linear PCM audio track towers over the Dolby Digital 5.1 track on the DVD. Having said that, Samson & Delilah isn't the type of film to gain much from a complex audio mix. Apart from ambient sound, I didn't really notice much in the way of direct sound placement. That is in no way a criticism of the audio mix, it's simply the nature of the film. This is far more a visual film than a sound experience. Likewise, the subwoofer usage was very subtle.

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

Extras

Menu

     The main menu is the same as the DVD edition. It is animated with a subtle sunrise and sunset theme. The menu is also 16x9 enhanced and features a sample of the reggae music from the film.

     The selection of extras on this Blu-ray are the same as the DVD set, with two new inclusions. The Blu-ray features the addition of an audio commentary and a brief Variety Q&A with Peter Sellars.

Audio Commentary - Warwick Thornton (Writer, Director & Cinematographer) & Kath Shelper (Producer)

     This is an entertaining and informative commentary. Warwick and Kath have worked together for quite some time, so their repour is natural and light-hearted. Although it begins with a scene description (a common trap with commentaries), Kath promptly fleshes out more information from Warwick about the technical aspects of the scene. From here, the discussion is really enjoyable and enlightening. Basically, all aspects of the production are discussed including cast anecdotes and Warwick's camera techniques. Kath even highlights her continuity error. Recommended.

Interview - Warwick Thornton in conversation with Peter Sellars, Variety Screening Series (6:52)

     This very short Q&A piece doesn't offer anything new in terms of information. Peter Sellars looks remarkably like a young Malcolm McLaren.

Featurette - Making Samson & Delilah by Beck Cole (55:06)

     Made by Beck Cole, (Warwick Thornton's wife) this is a comprehensive and very candid look at the making of Samson & Delilah . This documentary covers the casting, filming and eventually the accolades at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Beck's camera captures the highs and lows of the production, including the occasional difficulties working with young and old actors. Essential viewing.

Interview with Warwick Thornton from ABC1's At The Movies (5:02)

     Margaret Pomeranz from the ABC program At The Movies talks to Warwick Thornton about the film. This interview has been taken directly from the program.

Interview with Warwick Thornton from ABC1's Sunday Arts (13:45)

     Fenella Kernebone from the Sunday Arts program talks to Warwick Thornton. This is similar to the above piece, although this interview is longer and subsequently more comprehensive. Short clips from the film have also been incorporated into the segment.

The Short Films of Warwick Thornton.

Short Film - Nana (5:49)

     This charming little 2007 film is somewhat of a prequel to the story of Delilah. It features another wonderful performance from Mitjili Napanangka Gibson.

Short Film - Green Bush (26:04)

     Made in 2005, Green Bush tells the story of an Aboriginal community radio station in the outback. In particular, it's the story of a "dusk til dawn" program called The Green Bush Show. What begins as a quiet night in the studio for Kenny, (David Page), slowly turns to absolute chaos - in an amusing way.

Short Film - Mimi (14:38)

     Boasting the well known cast of, Sophie Lee, Aaron Pedersen and David Gulpilil, this 2002 film is hilarious. I first saw this film a couple of years ago on the SBS program, Eat Carpet and have never forgotten it. Catherine (Sophie Lee) buys a Mimi (Aboriginal artwork) at an action house. But when she gets it home to her plush city apartment the Mimi comes alive.

Short Film - Payback (10:18)

     This 1996, black & white film tells the tale of a man about to be released from prison. Just prior to his release, he is visited by a ghost and warned about the imminent payback.

Original Theatrical Trailer - Samson & Delilah (2:03 )

Madman Propaganda

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    R4 vs R1

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

        At the time of writing this review, there is no alternate Blu-ray edition of Samson & Delilah available.

    Summary

        Warwick Thornton's brilliant debut feature, Samson & Delilah is presented by Madman Entertainment in this superb Blu-ray edition.
     

        The video transfer is outstanding.

        The audio transfer is also hard to fault.

        The section of extras is comprehensive, interesting and makes essential viewing.

     

     

     

     

  • Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Monday, June 14, 2010
    Review Equipment
    DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI 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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