Truly Madly Deeply (1991)
|Year Of Production||1991|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Anthony Minghella|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
What happens when two people love each other "Truly Madly Deeply" (not to mention passionately, remarkably, deliciously, juicily!) and then one of them dies? How does the surviving half copes with the grief and the loss?
This film, which represents the directorial debut of Anthony Minghella (The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley) bravely attempts to tell the story beginning from the point where tragic love stories like Love Story usually end.
"Bravely", because we are venturing into territory not often covered in a romantic drama like this, and also because of the unusual nature of the storyline, as I will attempt to explain.
The film starts with Nina (Juliet Stevenson) emerging from the Highgate tube station and walking home in the dark. Nina's voiceover describes her thoughts during the walk and how she keeps hearing the voice of her husband Jamie (Alan Rickman) advising her what to do. It turns out that Nina is describing this scene in retrospect in a session with her therapist (Jenny Howe). Jamie has died some time ago from some unknown illness which started "with a sore throat".
Outwardly, Nina seems to be coping with her loss. She has bought a ramshackle flat which she is trying to renovate, and there are no shortage of men in her life: her sympathetic boss Sandy (Bill Paterson), over-friendly neighbour Titus (Christopher Rozycki), plumber (Keith Bartlett), and George the rat-catcher (David Ryall).
But in sessions with her therapist, we soon discover that Nina is still tormented with grief and misses Jamie terribly. Her sensitivity is exposed when her sister Claire (Deborah Findlay) asks Nina whether it's possible for Claire's son Harry (Ian Hawkes) to use Jamie's cello for practise.
Then, one day, inexplicably, Jamie returns in the depths of Nina's despair. No, it's not some sort of miracle, Jamie is a ghost (well, maybe it is a miracle!). A ghost that presumably only Nina can see and touch, but nobody else (although the film does not really make this clear and studiously avoids situations that test this).
After an initial period of joy and tender reunion where Nina and Jamie make beautiful music together (the Adagio from Sonata No.3 for viola da gamba and piano by Johann Sebastian Bach features strongly in the soundtrack), it turns out living with a ghost is not so simple after all.
Jamie has a penchant for inviting his ghostly friends around to Nina's flat to watch videos of classic films, not to mention other activities like music playing, reading books, playing chess and even rearranging the furniture! It seems that the ghosts mainly amuse themselves in the afterlife through intellectual pursuits - Jamie is even learning Spanish! Kind of makes sense when you think about it - if you don't have a body any more, then you have to keep yourself occupied through activities of the mind.
Pretty soon, Jamie's activities, together with his friends (who all seem to be men for some strange reason - maybe the afterlife is sexually segregated?), start to drive Nina up the wall. However, when she does encounter a new man in her life - charming psychiatrist Mark (Michael Maloney), Nina is consumed by guilt. Does going out with Mark constitute cheating on Jamie, even though Jamie is technically dead and only exists as a ghost?
A lot of people are deeply affected by this film and I can understand why. The script by Anthony Minghella is exquisite and this unconventional film succeeds brilliantly by defying all conventions and risking everything. The ending is the only disappointment - it seems a bit weak and convenient. However, given that the film was shot over 28 days on a miniscule budget, the results are impressive indeed.
This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Even though the IMDb lists the "intended" aspect ratio as 1.66:1 the director's commentary on the Region 1 version indicates that 1.33:1 is the original aspect ratio as the film was initially shot for broadcast on TV (and probably slightly masked for theatrical viewing) so we are seeing the film as the director would have wanted us to.
Incidentally, I thought most of the scenes were well-framed, apart from right at the beginning whether the letters "U" and "D" from the London Tube "Underground" logo are out of frame and very occasionally where the frame could have been a little bit wider to accommodate two characters side by side.
The film was shot on 16mm film, and therefore a moderate amount of grain is present in the film source. Otherwise, the film is reasonably clean with only a few black marks appearing here and there.
Given the film source and age, it is not surprising that the transfer is somewhat on the soft side yet has reasonable detail. Black levels are okay, though dark scenes are marred with grain. Colours are actually reasonably accurately rendered (at least consistent with the age of the film), though appearing slightly undersaturated compared to modern films.
I did not notice any MPEG or video artefacts associated with the transfer, apart from some slight shimmering and aliasing.
This film has a number of subtitle tracks. I turned on the English subtitle track briefly. Dialogue in certain parts of the film is in foreign languages (mostly Spanish and French) but the English subtitle track does not translate these - instead rendering the dialogue in the original languages.
This is a single sided single layered disc.
There are two audio tracks on the disc: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s), and French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). I listened to the English audio track. The French audio track is supposedly in mono but I did not verify this.
The English audio track appears to be surround encoded even though the surround flag is not present in the audio stream. However, given that this is a very dialogue focused film, the channels other than the centre channels are only lightly used for ambience noises and music. Occasionally, Foley effects are panned across the front speakers, but otherwise most of the audio track is front centre focused.
I did not detect any audio synchronisation issues with the audio track.
The track seemed to be encoded at a very low level, but otherwise seemed quite pleasant enough.
Music plays a very important part of this film, featuring the Adagio (second movement) from Sonata No. 3 for viola da gamba and piano, the first movement from Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and the Sarabande from Keyboard Concerto No. 3 by Johann Sebastian Bach, not to mention other songs such as The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore and some Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell songs. The original music by Barrington Pheloung appears to be variations of the theme from the Adagio.
|Surround Channel Use|
I am very disappointed that the selection of extras present on the Region 1 disc (including director's commentary) is not present on this disc, and all we get is language selection for the menus and a theatrical trailer.
You are allowed to choose between English and French menus, but the menus themselves are nothing special and are static.
This is a fairly lengthy trailer presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
Given the substantial additional extras on the Region 1 disc, I would strongly recommend that as the version of choice.
Truly Madly Deeply is a wonderful film that is the opposite of a romantic tear-jerker - it provides an early showcase for the talents of director/writer Anthony Minghella as well as the acting talents of Alan Rickman and Juliet Stevenson. The audio and video transfers are mediocre, and the disc is sadly lacking the extras present on the Region 1 version.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-626D, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Speakers||Front and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|