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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.
Atlantis: A World Beyond Words (Directors Suite) (Blu-ray) (1991)

Atlantis: A World Beyond Words (Directors Suite) (Blu-ray) (1991)

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Released 2-Jun-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio & Animation
Teaser Trailer-(2:08)
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 79:16
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Luc Besson
Claude Besson
Mario Cecchi Gori

Madman Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Custom Packaging
RPI $39.95 Music Vincenzo Bellini
Eric Serra

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None French Linear PCM 48/16 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

As I write this review for Atlantis, an underwater documentary directed by Luc Besson in 1991, there is internet chatter regarding Besson’s next directorial effort - an upcoming ‘love-story’ to be filmed in Paris and London and shot in English. Nothing else is known about the upcoming production and it remains untitled, but the fact that it is being written about in the very early stages of development on various film websites indicates Besson’s importance as an international filmmaker; a tag which has seen Besson embraced by the audience but dismissed by the critics.

Atlantis was made after Besson’s Le grand bleu (1988), which was deemed one of the most financially successful films of the 1980s in France and Nikita (1990), an action-thriller which in France was again financially successful although the French critics did not take too kindly to Besson’s portrayal of wayward youth.

Atlantis came at a time at which it seemed Besson decided to make something for himself and he chose to document his love from the sea; an extension of what he had explored symbolically and philosophically in Le grand bleu. Atlantis is an experimental film which explores the sea and its various creatures and Besson’s camera follows them into their world with a sense of excitement and awe. However the title Atlantis refers to the lost city which perished beneath the sea - thus the film is not only about Besson documenting his love of the ocean, but also a quiet reminder to the audience to preserve and appreciate the sea and its marine life while we can.

The film is seamlessly presented in movements, with no voice over narration and is accompanied with an eclectic Eric Serra score which playfully ventures into different music genres (rock, disco, opera and funk). Atlantis is masterfully edited to the changing rhythms of Serra’s score, sometimes giving the appearance of the marine life ‘dancing’ to Serra’s songs. Serra’s score for Atlantis also features the beginnings of the soundscape of Léon (1994) and the Middle Eastern infused sound which developed for Besson’s The Fifth Element (1997).

Atlantis remains a unique film today despite the number of great underwater documentaries released in recent years, namely due to Serra’s score and Besson’s exquisite footage (which was filmed over three years - in Australia, Seychelles, The Bahamas and The Galapagos), magically edited together as a sort of deep sea opera rather than an educational documentary. Best recommended to fans of Besson and Serra.

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Transfer Quality


Atlantis was filmed on 35mm film and the 1080p transfer on this Blu-ray 25 GB Disc is presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced widescreen. The transfer all in all is very good. The level of detail of the deep sea imagery lit with lamps is quite good, as the picture remains quite clear, however the image can appear somewhat soft at times; particularly in the darker scenes the blacks somewhat appear washed out.

The naturally lit scenes in which the sun lights the water from above remain the most vibrant and clear, while the scenes shot in the deep sea are mostly tinged with a blue/green colour scheme.

Shadow detail is quite good and there is no major occurrence of print damage, however there is mild grain and the occurrence of mild noise artefacts perhaps due to a moderate bitrate.

The optional English subtitles in a clear white font automatically appear in the brief French language introduction and during the title cards.

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


As mentioned, Serra’s score is of great importance when viewing Atlantis and here it is presented in French LPCM 2.0 audio soundtrack which is fine, considering the soundtrack was originally recorded in Dolby Digital Stereo SR and this is a music based title with limited environmental sounds included in the soundtrack (sounds of the marine life, the ocean, clapping, and city environment sounds). However the French Blu-ray of Atlantis (which is part of the Le grand bleu 3 Disc Blu-ray set), features the soundtrack as a DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack!).

The soundtrack is error-free, has nice bass response and remains an enveloping experience. Serra’s music is clear and the various instruments distinguishable. As mentioned Serra’s soundtrack is playful and diverse, and appears as movements. It’s quite the experience if you are a fan of Serra’s as he was free to create any type of mood and soundscape against Besson’s impressive imagery.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio & Animation

Imagery of the film is accompanied by Serra’s score. The Main Menu and Pop-up menu have the option of 12 scene selections and access to the trailer.

Teaser Trailer

A beautifully composed trailer of Besson descending from a helicopter into the open sea, armed with only an underwater camera as the whales nearby appear at the surface.

R4 vs R1

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

Atlantis appeared as part of the Extra Feature content on the Paramount France 3-Disc set Blu-ray release of Le grand bleu. It appeared on a single layered Blu-ray disc in 1080p, 2.35:1 16x9 enhanced widescreen with the soundtrack in DTS-HD 5.1. There are presumably no English subtitles on this release - for the brief spoken introduction.

The local release is identical to the UK Optimum Blu-ray release.


A simply gorgeous meditative film, but it’s not for everyone. Fans of Besson and Serra would be most pleased. The Madman Blu-ray is very good, presenting the film with a decent transfer and adequate audio option. A great addition to the Directors Suite range.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Saturday, July 03, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-SR800
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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