Anatomie (2000)

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Released 22-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Theatrical Trailer
Teaser Trailer
Gallery-Photo
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Stefan Ruzowitsky (Director)
Deleted Scenes-2 +/- commentary
Music Video-My Truth-Anna Loos
Featurette-Make-Up
Featurette-Making Of
Storyboard Comparisons
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 95:21
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (73:33) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Stefan Ruzowitsky
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Franka Potente
Benno Furmann
Anna Loos
Holger Speckhahn
Sebastian Blomberg
Traugott Buhre
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music Marius Ruhland


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, a simple, but chilling dialogue during the credits

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

Plot Synopsis

    I am not a huge fan of horror movies as a rule. I tend to find them nothing more than blood-soaked gore-fests that have all the subtlety of a sledgehammer to the back of the neck, and less plot than a Seinfeld episode. For the most part, horror has meant to me more horr-ible than horr-ifying. Consequently, when something comes along that has me reaching for the light switch, then I think it is definitely something different and worth watching.

    Anatomie is not your usual dismemberment movie, another Freddie Krueger or Halloween with huge amounts of spurting blood and knives thrust haphazardly into unsuspecting victims, but rather something more sinister because of its almost mundane setting, but which proves itself to be that much more terrifying as a result. A story about a medical school and dissection isn't something new. There have been many movies along this line, but the added dimension of human vivisection is something different altogether and invokes a fear that used to only occur in the pages of an Edgar Alan Poe novel. Append this with a secretive society practising illegal experiments on live humans and you evoke visions of Nazism and the doctors of the death camps and all the brutality practised therein.

    Director Stefan Ruzowitsky dredges up a frightening, chilling and very believable story, which he also penned, about a secret society called the Anti-Hippocratic Lodge who perform these illegal experiments on living beings and turn them into ghoulish exhibits for the Heidelberg School of Anatomy. The hero of the story, a student named Paula Henning (Franka Potente), awarded a place at this prestigious school after an essay competition (an interesting difference in culture there), meets up with Gretchen (Anna Loos) on board the train to Heidelberg and they become friends. On the train, they have a chance encounter with David (Arndt Schwering-Sohnrey), a young man with an incurable heart condition who suffers a cardiac arrest. He only becomes important when he turns up dead on the dissecting room table and Paula begins investigating the reason for his death, bringing her into conflict with the Lodge and its rather more psychotic members.

    Apart from a couple of scenes of heightened gruesomeness, there is more suspense than gore and more drama than action, but the movie zips along at a very healthy pace without lagging. The quality of the cast is obvious with good performances by the many actors, most of whom are unknown to me apart from the lead. Stefan Ruzowitsky doesn't bother to hide the identity of the killers, although you are left guessing for a while, preferring instead to add tension by using the usual clutch of clichés but presenting them in a more palatable manner.

    This is the first effort by Columbia Pictures - Germany and I believe it's a real winner. It's not going to be to everyone's taste, unless you are a fan of horror, but it is stylish, beautifully presented and once you get over the initial shock of the opening scene, it settles down into a superior suspense thriller with an added horror element thrown in for good measure. A decidedly different way to spend a dark night!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Apart from a couple of minor blemishes, this is almost a reference quality transfer.

    The original theatrical aspect of 2.35:1 is kept with this transfer and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness is exemplary, but there is some evidence of edge enhancement which detracts slightly from the overall rating (60:17 on Hein's shirt). Grain is at a low level but visible during some scenes, specifically outdoors, although it remains relatively low key even during these moments. Shadow detail is exemplary at all times. Fine detail is superb with the opening sequence of a hand running over flesh offering minute hairs and pores on the skin as evidence of the detail available. Background detail is also exemplary, even during low lit scenes, with superb depth on offer. There is no low level noise on show and blacks are solid without exception.

    The most exceptional palette is used with this movie. There is a startling range on offer, from brilliant sunlit landscapes offering verdant greens, blue skies and white clouds, to yellow and orange hues at the end of the day. Blue and white, along with gun metal greys are used extensively to create the antiseptic surroundings inside the dissection room, and the lighting is used creatively to make this a colour-fest of the finest quality. Skin tones are spot on and there is never any hint of oversaturation or colour bleed.

    Apart from a slight moiré effect at 56:57 on a ventilation grill and a slight telecine wobble at 57:57, there are almost no problems with this transfer. MPEG artefacts are non-existent and every now and then you might see a very slight shimmering but it never breaks up into anything approaching aliasing or becomes an issue. The usual film artefacts, flaking and scratches are completely absent in this transfer.

    There are plenty of subtitles to choose from. Since I watched the entire movie with subtitles enabled, I can tell you that the font is easy to read, but the actors really belt out their lines at times so you might find it difficult to keep up with them as they don't spend a long time on-screen. There were some slight discrepancies between what was being spoken and what was in the subtitles, but it didn't affect your understanding of the movie at all.

    The RSDL change comes at 73:33 between scene changes. It lasts half a second but is beautifully located and causes no appreciable disruption to the flow of the movie.

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

Audio

    The audio track on this transfer is of reference quality in my estimation. The only thing that could have made it better would have been the inclusion of a DTS soundtrack. The overall effect of this excellent audio mix is that there is a heightened sense of the dramatic which juxtaposes nicely with the more sensual/sexual moments and surrounds the listener with a soundtrack that nearly approximates a real movie theatre type experience (without the mobile phones, crinkling packets of chips or annoying Neanderthals whispering all through the movie).

    This transfer offers us three audio tracks to choose from; English, German and Spanish, all in Dolby Digital 5.1 at a bitrate of 448 kilobits per second. The default track is German 5.1. I initially listened to the English track but after 30 minutes gave up and switched to the German soundtrack and watched it with English subtitles activated, as it was originally made. A note to those interested - the movie looks to have been made with the actors speaking in both English and German (much in the manner of Das Boot). The only problem is that with the English audio, since the actors are all German the sync is slightly out because they over-dubbed the dialogue (probably to remove the horrid accents and replace them with much more suitable Americanised voices). If you don't mind the lack of sync, you can watch it in English without too much difficulty but I personally detest dubbing at the best of times.

    The German Dolby Digital 5.1 track has no problem with the dialogue or sync. The English 5.1 track has slight, but noticeable discrepancies with the sync of the actors voices/overdubs with the actual lip movements, enough for it to have become a distraction for me. Your mileage may vary. I don't consider this a problem with the transfer.

    The music is as eclectic and elegant as it is varied and atmospheric, and a superb mix of current pop songs with great mood music and eerie sound effects. Marius Ruhland creates an excellent soundscape that drives the movie's more exciting, morbid and sexual parts beautifully and fades to nothing (quite often) to allow the on-screen action to create its own tension.

    This disc offers up the best use of the surround channels that I've heard in a long time. Copious amounts of music is redirected to the rears, plus sound effects and occasionally silence (which may sound strange, but you can often get a more scary reaction with a total absence of sound). There are quite a few music tracks intermixed on this disc from various artists (Fat Boy Slim comes to mind instantly), which sound great cut into the rears. The atmospheric envelope added by the constant usage of the rears is a real bonus.

    The subwoofer gets a lot of workout on this disc, similar to that of the surrounds. The LFE is constantly being driven by subterranean sounds mainly from the music but the overall effect is to heighten the dramatic tension. Deep sonics, lots of bass and the usual heavy rumbling sounds generated by the music make this possibly the best usage of the .1 channel I've heard since Gladiator.

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

Extras

    There is an excellent assortment of extras on offer on this disc, making it a pleasant change from the usual paucity of same that accompanies so many DVDs these days.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The menu constantly shimmered on my TV which I found a bit annoying. The menu is animated with music overlaid from the movie and framed clips from the movie on offer. There are five options available and the menu is easily navigated.

Dolby Digital Trailer

    City - What can one say but ... ugh!

Theatrical Trailer

    A running time of 1:11 in 4x3 Full Frame and not 16x9 enhanced. It's a fairly ordinary looking trailer, with the colour and sharpness lacking in comparison to the movie itself.

Teaser Trailer

    A 0:48 second variation on the Theatrical Trailer, again 1.33:1 and Full Frame with the same lack of sharpness/colour and the usual grain and artefacts.

Gallery-Photo

    A 22 photo montage in slide show format with an accompanying musical arrangement. Most of the shots are 'on location' with cast and crew.

Cast & Crew Interviews

    These have an overall running time of 21:14 and consist of interviews with various cast and crew members. This is formatted as a question and answer session which has some interesting moments, especially with Franka Potente who is a very articulate speaker (albeit in German). Those interviewed are Benno Furmann, Anna Loos, Holger Speckhahn, Andrea Wilson (the producer), Jakob Claussen (the executive producer) and Stefan Ruzowitzsky (the director).

Audio Commentary

    This is presented as a German Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track at a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second. Subtitles in Dutch, Spanish and English are available so I chose the English variety. Interestingly enough, the subtitles move from the bottom to the top of the screen so as not to interfere with the opening credits. Director Stefan Ruzowitzsky offers his insight and motivation into the making of the movie. He's obviously watching the movie at the same time as he's talking and there are some lengthy moments of silence. He's not the most natural speaker I've ever heard, but he does explain such things as set design, including editing various locales into a single, contiguous set, lighting and its various uses, some of the technical difficulties he ran into, where he cast his actors from (theatre/TV/etc) and some of the inter-relational aspects of the characters. A decent effort overall.

Deleted Scenes

    There are two deleted scenes, which were actually reshot to give slightly different emphasis to the two scenes. They are offered in German Dolby Digital 2.0 surround at 192kb/s with optional subtitles and in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 but NOT 16x9 enhanced. There is also Director's commentary available on both scenes as he explains his rationale in re-shooting the scenes.

    Both scenes offer a lot of aliasing and a lot more grain than is on show in the movie.

Music Video

    Anna Loos (Gretchen) performs My Truth in Dolby Digital 5.1 (surprisingly enough). There is some good surround work in this clip but little from the .1 (it's not that heavy basically). She sings mostly in English. There are snippets from the movie added to the overall visuals. The entire clip is in 2.35:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced and suffers from pixelization and aliasing, with grain visible throughout. Some of the scenes from the movie are among the saucier ones on offer (naturally).

Featurette

    A Special Makeup Featurette on how they created the various models and dummies in use during the movie. It has a running time of 2:26 in 1.33:1 Full Frame with interviews with the special effects crew.

Featurette-Making Of

    A "making of.." featurette with a running time of 4:52 in German Dolby Digital Surround 2.0 at 192 kilobits per second (subtitles available). There are various snippets from the movie, interviews with some of the cast and effects people and outtakes from the making of the movie. It's in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, Full Frame with the movie snippets letterboxed at 2.35:1. Too short to be of any real value.

Storyboard Comparisons

    A selection from the movie accompanied by storyboards. The storyboards are very primitive, being nothing more than line drawings with little definition and often looking nothing like the actual scene in shot but you occasionally get a glimpse of how they translated ideas into actual footage. The scene from the movie is in the bottom right corner, the storyboard, top left. To be honest, it wasn't that interesting.

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    Two only on offer, Franka Potente and Stefan Ruzowitsky. Standard fare.

R4 vs R1

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

    R1 vs R2 vs R4 comparison.

    From the looks of it, apart from the languages and subtitles on offer, all three discs offer the same selection of extras and the same aspect ratio. All things considered, call it a draw.

Summary

    As horror movies go, Anatomie is the most decent effort I've seen in a while. I'm not a huge fan of the genre but this scared the willies out of me, enough to put it in my "must see" of horror movies. Aficionados should not be too disappointed, except if you expect massive amounts of blood and gore.

    The video is absolutely magnificent with just a couple of minor errors that stopped it being a reference quality disc.

    The audio is of reference quality, in my view, and greatly enhances the viewing experience.

    The extras are quite decent for a change with some variety on offer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Carl Berry (read my bio)
Tuesday, September 11, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5006DD, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-976. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationRotel RB 985 MkII
SpeakersJBL TLX16s Front Speakers, Polk Audio LS fx di/bipole Rear Speakers, Polk Audio CS350-LS Centre Speaker, M&KV-75 Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
I don't think you watch many horror movies, Carl ! - Bran (my bio, or something very like it)