Winter's Bone (Blu-ray) (2010)

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Released 19-May-2011

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Director and Cinematographer
Featurette-Making Of
Alternative Version-Alternate Opening
Deleted Scenes
Music Video-Hardscrabble Elegy
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 100:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Debra Granik
Gryphon Entertainment Starring Jennifer Lawrence
Isaiah Stone
Ashlee Thompson
Valerie Richards
Shelley Waggener
Garret Dillahunt
William White
Ramona Blair
Lauren Sweetser
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Dickon Hinchliffe

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

†††† When the law shows up at the door of the Dolly household, deep in the Ozark Mountains in rural Missouri, it is no unexpected occurrence. After all, patriarch Jessup Dolly has been in trouble plenty of times before. This time, according to the sheriff (Garret Dillahunt), things are different. Jessup is wanted for skipping bail for his hearing on charges related to cooking methamphetamines, the local industry, and a failure to show up will have dire consequences for the Dolly family. If he doesn't show then the Dolly house is forfeit to the state.

†††† The Dolly family are already doing it tough. The mother is catatonic and unreachable. Eldest daughter 17 year old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) has had to take charge of the family, looking after her mother as another child as well as her two younger siblings, a boy and a girl. Given motherís state if the family is kicked out of the home then the children will have to go into foster care. With no choices left, and the court date looming, Ree must go into the community, into the mountains, to look for her father. That is no easy task. The mountains are full of dangers in the form of meth cooking law breakers who do not appreciate the young girl sniffing around. Each collapsing shack, a sign of the plague of poverty and methamphetamines is a potential danger. Even her own blood, uncle Teardrop (John Hawkes, is unwilling to assist.

†††† From a simple plot idea, the search for her father, emerges one of the most genuine and powerful movies of recent memory. Winter's Bone picked up numerous awards in the last 12 months and was nominated for four Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actress (for Lawrence), Best Supporting Actor (for Hawkes) and Best Adapted Screenplay for the work of director Debra Granik and Anne Rossellini in adapting the novel Winter's Bone by Daniel Woodrell for the screen.

†††† Winter's Bone succeeds on almost all levels. Relative newcomer Debra Granik (her earlier film Down to the Bone with Vera Farmiga was a tale of addiction - the director insists she doesn't have a fondness for films with "bone" in the title!) directs the film as it must - a hard edged, tense drama with no room for over acting or fakery. These people are hillbillies and could have, in lesser hands, been directed into stereotype but Granik makes their world both scary and believable. Newcomer Jennifer Lawrence is a revelation as Ree. Her finely etched performance shows the constantly shifting emotions of desire to save her family against the hopelessness of the task. Special mention should also go to John Hawkes. A fine actor who is best known for his work as the somewhat befuddled loser (The Perfect Storm, Miami Vice, Me, You and Everyone We Know) and his work in the TV Series Deadwood. Here he gives a chilling performance as the tough and frightening Teardrop, a man who has to search deep to find his sense of family, but once he does it runs surprisingly deep. His tense standoff with the sheriff is one of the most memorable moments in recent cinema. The supporting cast is also excellent. It includes some local non-actors who give pitch perfect performances but also Dale Dickey as the hard-as-nails Merab, the wife of local crime boss Thump.

†††† Winter's Bone is not an easy drama. Ree Dolly is a heroine for her continuing efforts to find her father but the path is sometimes bleak. It is, however, an unforgettable experience and a film that belongs in the collection of every lover of fine cinema.

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Transfer Quality


†††† Winter's Bone was shot on the Red One Camera. It was transferred to 35mm film for cinema showing at a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. That ratio has been (basically) preserved for the Blu-ray release being a 1.78:1 transfer.

†††† Cinematographer Michael McDonough creates a work of rare beauty, giving the stark cold environments a rugged majesty without ever setting up a "picture-postcard" shot. These are hard people doing it tough in a tough environment and the film reflects that ethos. The transfer is sharp and clear at all times. The level of detail is good - whether it is in the peeling paint of the old barns or the wrinkles on the faces of the actors. The colours are accurate and strong although the film is deliberately not vividly coloured.

†††† There are no technical defects with the transfer.

†††† There are subtitles in English, Spanish and English for the Hearing Impaired.

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


†††† The Blu-ray case for Winterís Bone suggests that it carries an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Fortunately, that is not correct. The track, 5.1 English, is a DTS HD Master Audio.

†††† This is not a film which relies heavily on the surrounds for effect and yet the High Definition sound gives the soundtrack a nice space and a good degree of ambience with the nature sounds all around the characters. The dialogue is heavily accented but, once you get into the cadences, is not difficult to understand.

†††† The musical score is by former Tindersticks lead Dickon Hinchliffe, whose melancholy sensibilities are well suited to this work. Other music is in the form of traditional Ozark Mountain songs which add to the authenticity of the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


†††† There are a number of extras on this Blu-ray.

Audio Commentary Track

†††† Director and co-adaptor Debra Granik sits down with cinematographer Michael McDonoughh to take us through the process of making the film. We immediately understand that the film was an extremely collaborative process. Those who like their commentary tracks full of funny stories and lively banter may well find the tone and content of this conversation a little dry and serious. It does, however, provide a wealth of information about the film making process that informs and educates as we go along. A worthy listen.

The Making of Winter's Bone

†††† In reality this lengthy feature is more of an on-set diary than a Making of. That's not a bad thing. The feature is divided into various ideas and issues including filming locations, working with children and animals, in order to show how the film came together. It gives an excellent insight into the process of developing the film and the joys and challenges of filming in real locations.

Deleted Scenes

††††Some decent length scenes here. A couple have footage showing the scene being set up. Two show the relationship between Ree and Gail and a nice one has Ree spending the night in one of the "any beautiful caves of Missouri" according to the introduction.

Alternate Opening (1.29)

†††† A black and white Super 8 opening featuring images of the ice bound house and the youngest child. Perhaps a bit too esoteric for the film.

Music Credits

†††† The full credits for the songs and music used.

Hardscrabble Elegy Composed and Performed by Dickon Hinchliffe (2.39)

†††† A music video, composed of Super 8 like images, for this moving piece of music.

Theatrical Trailer (2.25)

†††† A wonderful, chilling trailer.

R4 vs R1

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

††††This Blu-ray has the same features as the Region A release.


†††† The accolades given to Winter's Bone were well deserved. The distinction of being the lowest box-office performing Best Picture Oscar nominee since The Dresser is not. The film deserved to do better. Start now by buying this excellent release with its top flight transfer and series of interesting extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, October 06, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. 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.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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