Interviews-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1998|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (78:34)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Martha Fiennes|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The story traces the experiences during the early 19th century of Evgeny Onegin (Fiennes), a particularly wealthy playboy and heir to his recently deceased uncle's estate. Onegin is chronically tired of life, and appears incapable of deriving any real happiness or contentment from his advantaged position or from the people around him. In many ways he appears to be an emotional void, yet presents a cultured and polite, if slightly eccentric, face to the world. Punctuating this general description are unexpected and isolated shows of real emotion - in his personal drawings, in his knowledge of literature and in his obviously deep affection for Vladimir Lensky (Toby Stephens), a young man who shares few of Onegin's personal traits.
While visiting his newly acquired estate Onegin meets the young and beautiful Tatyana (Liv Tyler), sister to Lensky's fiancee. Tatyana is, herself, unorthodox in many of her views of contemporary privileged society, in fact proposing many ideas that we would find common today. She is drawn from the outset to Onegin and ultimately reveals to him in a passionate letter that she loves him. Believing that he feels nothing in return, he rejects her love, insisting that it will pass as quickly as it arose. It is this thread that forms the crux of the drama, and it leads several years down the track to Onegin returning to St Petersburg where he finds Tatyana married to his cousin and a member of royalty. It is now time for a reversal of roles, as he begins stalking and ultimately confessing his own love to her. There is no doubt that he has great feelings for her, and there is evidence that these were present even from the outset. However his love has been distorted into something quite strange, almost pitiful by the otherwise emotionless character that he has generated for himself. This is the tragedy that the film sets out to portray.
In my simple way I could not interpret many of the ideas that the director (Martha Fiennes) was apparently trying to convey with this film. I've certainly never read, and probably never will read, Pushkin's original text, so I've no base to compare the film to. However, it seems to me that the real questions are why the characters are and act the way they do. Why is Onegin so indifferent to the world? Why does Tatyana love him so passionately while others view him as a vapid and generally unpleasant personality? These unanswered questions left me feeling as if the characters had only been half-painted, and meant that the tragedy of the piece was not all-encompassing, as I felt it should have been. Then again, maybe I'm a philistine with no contact with my feminine side...?
This was Martha Fiennes' first feature film, having previously worked on music videos and television commercials. This project was essentially a collaboration with her brother Ralph (the film's executive producer), and along the way they managed to sweep along with them brother Magnus (composer) and sister Sophie (actress in an unnamed role). The film has been produced with a very strong artistic bent - do not expect the natural real-world imagery of the likes of Pride and Prejudice here. Personally, I think this has been overdone, and seems to have left no room for some of the character and location development that might have made the film more accessible. No doubt one's appreciation of it would benefit from multiple viewings and much academic discussion, but without such rigour you may be somewhat disappointed.
The picture quality can be described in a single word - dark. Being set in Russia during the 19th century, and presumably to enhance the feelings of emotional isolation that form the context of the film, internal illumination has been designed to resemble rather dim candlelight, while external lighting hardly ever rises above the equivalent of extremely overcast skies. Much of the lighting is further abstracted - one of the lighter moments featuring Onegin and Lensky fishing from a lake is set with the characters directly between the camera and the sun, producing very harsh shadows and contrast. This contributes to the general tiring effect of the film as a whole.
Notwithstanding these general comments, the picture is very clean and sharp. Backgrounds are predominantly in shadow, yet their detail shines right through the general gloominess of the picture. In comparison, the characters are frequently swathed in heavy black cloaks, and these tend to reveal little detail, being rendered more as solid blacks. Liv Tyler was often well lit or presented in bright external scenes. This was perhaps done to highlight her relative innocence in comparison with the dark personality of Onegin. In these instances, again, picture detail was wonderfully revealed. Low level noise was never detected. This type of colour palette can really test out the contrast and picture resolution abilities of your display device.
Colours were generally drab and sombre. One outstanding exception to this was the penultimate scene in which Onegin proffers his love to Tatyana. He is framed in the same dark colours as is the rest of the film, while she is set against an entirely white background dressed in white, almost in a Faustian comparison between purity and evil (of course, I may be wrong here). The choice of lighting makes it difficult to comment on the colour quality, especially where objects are predominantly backlit. However, close-ups of faces did reveal true and lifelike skin tones.
I found no film artefacts, and only a small handful of contenders for MPEG artefacts. Given the lighting conditions, this speaks volumes for the quality of the transfer.
There are no subtitles available.
The disc is RSDL-formatted with the layer change occurring at 78:34.
As I write this I can't actually recall the musical score - just as well Magnus is part of the family, because on the strength of this he will have to keep his day job.
I noted only very little activity from the surround speakers - generally early on in some very dark and atmospheric scenes. They were silent during the numerous ballroom scenes, almost as if the director didn't want us to feel part of the drama, but to be a rather distant observer. Similarly I never noticed any action from the subwoofer.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Richter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)|