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Troubled sisters Justine and Claire find their already-strained relationship challenged as a mysterious new planet, Melancholia, threatens to collide with Earth.
For more about Melancholia and the Melancholia Blu-ray release, see Melancholia Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on January 30, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Charlotte Rampling, Alexander Skarsgård, John Hurt
Director: Lars von Trier
» See full cast & crew
Melancholia Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, January 30, 2012
Winner of Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Danish director Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" (2011) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; documentary film about Filmbyen, the home of the Danish New Wave directors; interviews with director Lars von Trier, Kirsten Dunst, and Charlotte Gainsbourg; making of featurette; and audio commentary by Peter Schepelern, associate professor at University of Copenhagen, and director Lars von Trier. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The film begins with The End. Melancholia, a massive planet which has been hiding behind the Sun, has emerged and started moving towards the Earth. Time has slowed down, perhaps to let the Earth enjoy its final hours, minutes, seconds. Then an enormous explosion…
Now we go back, some days before Melancholia reveals itself. It is Justine (Kirsten Dunst, Marie Antoinette) and Michael's (Alexander Skarsgard, Wings of Glass) wedding day and they are heading to a lavish party, which Justine's sister Claire (Charlotte Gainsbourg, Antichrist) and her wealthy husband John (Kiefer Sutherland, Flatliners) have put together. They are very late but do not care.
Upon arrival Justine is greeted by Claire, who is visibly upset that things are not going as planned. Then John appears, also looking slightly irritated. Together they enter his massive manor and the guests greet the newlyweds.
Soon after, Jack (Stellan Skarsgard, City of Ghosts), Justine's boss, makes a speech. Short comments from Justine's father (John Hurt, Midnight Express) and mother (Charlotte Rampling, Swimming Pool) reveal that they are not terribly impressed that they must share the same table. In fact, they hate each other so much that they cannot even look each other in the eyes.
As the night goes on, Justine begins to realize that what is happening isn't right. But it is too late to feel sorry or guilty, which is why she gets depressed. While trying to clear her head on the private golf course where the party will end, she sees a bright red star.
Now we move forward, some weeks after the wedding. Melancholia has revealed itself. Most scientists believe that it will come close to the Earth but it won't collide with it. Michael has also done some research and come to the same conclusion. But Claire is scared. What if everyone is wrong?
In the following days, the Earth begins to change. It snows even though it is summer, the atmosphere changes and it becomes harder to breathe, there are loud vibrations. Then Melancholia passes by and heads back towards the Sun. It is exactly what everyone predicted it would do - everyone but Justine.
With Melancholia controversial Danish director Lars von Trier argues that the end of the world could be a cause for celebration because with it Evil would also die. It is difficult to agree with him, but it isn't difficult to applaud the manner in which he argues his point. This is an uncharacteristically beautiful, incredibly well made film.
The event is seen through the eyes of the two sisters, Justine and Claire. The nihilistic views of the former are basically von Trier's – after the disastrous wedding she becomes seriously depressed and loses hope in life and humanity; she talks about the Evil people have created and then in the final hours before the collision regains her composure.
Claire's reactions to the events preceding the collision are the more rational ones. First she becomes paranoid but then accepts the inevitable. With her realization that there is nothing beyond life comes peace.
It is guaranteed that Melancholia will not appeal to everyone because it is essentially an atheist's take on the end of the world. However, despite the nihilistic views expressed in it, all of which make sense, it is not a preachy film aiming to dismiss popular religious beliefs.
Note: In 2011, Melancholia won Best Actress Award (Kirsten Dunst) at the Cannes Film Festival.
Melancholia Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Lars von Trier's Melancholia arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
The high-definition transfer is truly outstanding. In fact, I am so impressed with the quality of the presentation that I would go on record here and say that we will be discussing Melancholia again at the end of 2012, when the year's best releases are mentioned.
Detail is fantastic. I think that some of our screencaptures suggest how striking this film looks, but clearly do not tell the whole story. The prologue, in particular, looks absolutely incredible - the clarity and crispness levels really seem to be testing Blu-ray's potential. Later into the film the outdoor sequences also look wonderful - fine object detail is remarkable and clarity impeccable (see screencapture #5). Some of the close-ups have the type of depth seen in high quality digital photographs but without the that familiar sterile, often cold look. Color reproduction is also very impressive. The variety of blues, greens, reds, browns, and especially yellows look remarkably rich but at the same time natural (see screencapture #11). There are also some outstanding special effects that further enhance the striking scenes at the end of the film. Finally, there are no aliasing, banding, or other transfer-related issues to report in this review. All in all, Melancholia is without a doubt the first truly impressive release of 2012. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Melancholia Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Artificial Eye have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they appear inside the image frame.
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is also enormously impressive. The prelude to Richard Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, for instance, sounds remarkably rich and full, enhancing the dreamy atmosphere in a way that really cannot be described with simple words; the range of subtle dynamics here is truly outstanding. Elsewhere, random small noises (animal sounds, vibrations, etc) are incredibly easy to hear. The dialog is crisp, clean, clear, and exceptionally easy to follow.
Melancholia Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Melancholia Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Melancholia, Danish director Lars von Trier's stunningly beautiful film about the end of the world, is a remarkable achievement. I truly cannot think of another recent film that I could compare it to - it is so incredibly pure and thought-provoking. The film's transition to Blu-ray is equally impressive. Indeed, it is only January, but as far as I am concerned Melancholia is already a prime candidate for a release of the year. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Note: In the United States, Magnolia Pictures will release Melancholia on Blu-ray on March 13th).
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Melancholia Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Lars von Trier's Melancholia Gets UK Release Date - September 28, 2011
Independent British distributors Artificial Eye have revealed that they will release on Blu-ray controversial Danish director Lars von Trier's Melancholia (2011), starring Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Charlotte Rampling, and Kiefer Sutherland. The film ...
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