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My Life as a Dog(1985)
A twelve-year old Swedish boy is sent to live with his aunt and uncle in a country village after his mother becomes ill.
For more about My Life as a Dog and the My Life as a Dog Blu-ray release, see My Life as a Dog Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 28, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Lasse Hallström
Writers: Lasse Hallström, Per Berglund, Reidar Jönsson
Starring: Anton Glanzelius, Tomas von Brömssen, Anki Lidén, Melinda Kinnaman, Kicki Rundgren, Lennart Hjulström
» See full cast & crew
My Life as a Dog Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 28, 2011
Nominated for two Oscar Awards and winner of Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, Swedish director Lasse Hallström's "Mitt liv som hund" a.k.a "My LIfe as a Dog" (1985) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; video interview with director Lasse Hallstrom; and the short film "Shall We Go To My or Your Place or Each Go Home Alone?". The disc also arrives with an illustrated booklet featuring an essay by critic Michael Atkinson and an appreciation by the late author Kurt Vonnegut. In Swedish, with optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
12-year-old Ingemar (Anton Glanzelius) has realized that people around him are different, even a little crazy. He does not know why, but even if he did, what difference would it make? His older brother Erik (Manfred Serner) still would have used him and an empty bottle to demonstrate to their friends how men and women make babies, and the Soviets still would have sent Laika into space.
Ingemar also does not know why his mother (Anki Lidén) isn't getting better. When he gets sick, it usually takes a couple of days before he is up and running again, but his mother has been sick for a long time. Lately, she has also started losing weight, though it is probably the food, not the tubercu…not the illness with the difficult name.
Eventually, Ingemar is sent to the countryside to stay with Uncle Gunnar (Tomas von Bromssen) and Aunt Ulla (Kicki Rundgren) so that his mother can rest and get better. They also have a sick person in their house, Mr. Arvidsson (Didrik Gustavsson), who spends most of his time in bed. After Ingemar agrees to read aloud his favorite lingerie magazine, the two become good friends.
Ingemar also befriends Saga (Melinda Kinnaman), who pretends to be a boy and plays for the local football team, and the busty and much older Berit (Ing-mari Carlsson), who drives Uncle Gunnar crazy and has inspired a local artist to begin working on the most ridiculous statue the world would ever see.
My Life as a Dog is arguably Swedish director Lasse Hallström's best film. It is based on Reidar Jönsson's popular novel and was the director's last Swedish film before he relocated to the U.S. In 1998, it earned two Oscar nominations – Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - and won Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
There are plenty of cliched episodes in the film, but they are shot in a casual manner and infused with a sense of authenticity that make them look charming rather than annoying. Hallström never attempts to take advantage of Ingemar's weaknesses or portray him as a rebel. The type of dilemmas the boy faces are the type of dilemmas just about all young boys sooner or later face.
The melodrama is also kept at bay. After Ingemar returns home a series of events shatter his world, but his reactions and emotions are not overdramatized. While he tries to come to terms with these events, profound statements about real life are not produced.
Ingemar does not undergo a sizable character transformation either. Like Laika, he is simply launched into a strange new world, against his wish, but unlike the famous dog eventually brought back home. At the end of the film he is the same young and naïve boy that he is in the beginning of the film.
The acting is outstanding. Glanzelius is remarkably convincing in front of the camera, never appearing stiff or unsure what is expected of him. The best scenes in the film, however, are the ones where he looks straight into the camera and remains silent. The supporting cast is also very good, with Kinnaman and Bromssen looking particularly convincing.
Cinematographer Jörgen Persson's ( Pelle the Conqueror) lensing is simple but elegant, favoring a variety of wonderful earthy colors. The film also features a strong soundtrack courtesy of Björn Isfält (What's Eating Gilbert Grape).
My Life as a Dog Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.67:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Lasse Hallström's My Life as a Dog arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion.
The film's transition to Blu-ray is very convincing. Generally speaking, the image conveys tremendous depth and fluidity, with many of the close-ups revealing plenty of small details and textures that are simply missing on Criterion's SDVD release of the film. The delicate contrast during the memory flashbacks is also very convincing (see screencapture #6). Aside from a few minor color pulsations around the edges during the prologue, color reproduction is also superior - on the SDVD release the light blues, greens, and browns are quite shaky; now they are stable and looking healthy. Furthermore, there are no signs of heavy digital sharpening. The film grain is also kept intact, though portions of it are mixed with light noise. A few tiny flecks pop up here and there, but large cuts, damage marks, and warps are nowhere to be seen. All in all, this is a very convincing presentation that should please enormously fans of the film. (Note: This is a Region-A "locked" Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you must have a native Region-A or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
My Life as a Dog Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: Swedish LPCM 1.0. For the record, Criterion have provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
The Swedish LPCM 1.0 track does not disappoint. The sound is well rounded and thick and free of hiss, cracks, and pops. There are no balance issues with Björn Isfält's music score or serious audio distortions to report in this review either. The dialog is crisp, clean, stable and easy to follow. The English translation is excellent.
My Life as a Dog Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
My Life as a Dog Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I am not convinced that Lasse Hallström's decision to move to the U.S. and begin working in Hollywood was a good one. Though many of his English-language films have been well received, none have been as good as My Life as a Dog, his last Swedish-language film. However, Criterion's decision to bring this beautiful and moving film to Blu-ray, with an approved by the director high-definition digital transfer, was without a doubt an excellent one. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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My Life as a Dog Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Criterion's September Line-Up: Altman, Chabrol, Hallström, Assaya... - June 15, 2011
The Criterion Collection has unveiled their Blu-ray line-up for September 2011. Announced titles include Robert Altman's 3 Women, Olivier Assayas'Carlos, Lasse Hallstrom's My Life as a Dog, Claude Chabrol's Les Cousins and Le Beau Serge and the 1920 silent classic ...
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