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The Darjeeling Limited(2007)
Three brothers from the US who have not spoken to each other in a year set off on a train voyage across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other - to become brothers again like they used to be. Their spiritual quest, however, veers rapidly off course (due to events involving over the counter pain killers, Indian cough syrup, and pepper spray), and they eventually find themselves stranded alone in the middle of the desert with eleven suitcases, a printer and a laminating machine, at this moment, a new, unplanned journey suddenly begins.
For more about The Darjeeling Limited and the The Darjeeling Limited Blu-ray release, see the The Darjeeling Limited Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 19, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Jason Schwartzman, Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Starring: Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Natalie Portman, Anjelica Huston, Bill Murray
» See full cast & crew
The Darjeeling Limited Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 19, 2010
Wes Anderson's "The Darjeeling Limited" (2007) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. The supplemental features on the disc include an audio commentary with director Wes Anderson and co-screenwriters Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman; documentary feature by Barry Braverman; conversation with James Ivory; essay by Matt Zoller Seitz; deleted scene and two alternate takes; sketch by Roman Coppola; trophy case; stills gallery; theatrical trailers; and more. The disc also arrives with an illustrated booklet containing Richard Brody's essay "Voyage to India". In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-A "locked".
Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited is a strange film about three very strange brothers who embark on a spiritual journey. Their chosen destination is India because according to one of them this is the place where men can reset their souls and get their lives back on track. The brothers meet on a train some time after their father has passed away.
Francis (Owen Wilson, Shanghai Knights), the oldest one, has his head wrapped in bandages. After a close encounter with Death, he has suddenly realized that it is time to live life to the fullest and reconnect with his brothers. He has also lost a tooth and become addicted to painkillers.
Peter (Adrien Brody, The Pianist) has been planning to leave his wife who has surprisingly become pregnant. Naturally, he feels incredibly happy and terribly disappointed at the same time. He has also come to realize that life would never be as he imagined it. Like Francis, Peter has also become addicted to painkillers.
Jack (Jason Schwartzman, I Heart Huckabees) is a loner who can't get over an ex-girlfriend. He often checks her answering machine because hearing her voice makes him feel good. Jack also likes to write and, like his brothers, enjoys taking painkillers.
Francis, Pater and Jack travel with a pile of luggage and a laminated itinerary prepared by Francis' assistant, Brendan (Wally Wolodarsky, Rushmore). As the train passes through the Indian countryside, they all agree that their journey is an important one, and probably their last chance to rebuild their compromised relationship.
Because the overwhelming majority of The Darjeeling Limited takes place on a train, the film feels rather claustrophobic at times. But for a good reason - the strange world Peter, Jack and Francis belong to is also very claustrophobic, and once their journey begins, director Anderson pulls all sorts of different tricks to make us experience what often times they supposedly feel - uncertainty, nostalgia, euphoria that has a tendency to quickly evolve into dysphoria.
Different viewers will react differently to The Darjeeling Limited. Some will be enormously entertained by its witty dialog and slapstick humor. As a result, they will likely see it as a bright, refreshingly frank and as chaotic as real life often is film. Others are likely to be puzzled by its eccentricity and annoyed with its obvious attempts to satirize ignorance.
For the most part I liked what director Anderson has tried to accomplish with The Darjeeling Limited. His film reminded me a lot about Bernardo Bertolucci's The Sheltering Sky, in which two lovers also embark on a journey to regain something important that has been lost. They are not tourists, they are simply travelers.
These types of films could be beautiful to look at but also enormously frustrating. If one does not connect with their protagonists, one could easily find them pretentious, at times even impossible to endure. The main protagonists in The Darjeeling Limited are likable chaps but, frankly, not very easy to connect with. Their brains simply function differently.
In 2007, The Darjeeling Limited won the Little Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.
The Darjeeling Limited Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Criterion. This disc also contains Wes Anderson's short film Hotel Chevalier, which could be viewed as a prologue to The Darjeeling Limited.
(Update: I have been informed by a couple of different readers that what you see in screencapture #19 is also present on the old 20th Century Fox SDVD release of The Darjeeling Limited. Apparently, the blue stripes are a product of awkward light reflection of some sort caught the wrong way by the lens. Hence, there is no mastering defect with this Blu-ray disc. I contacted Criterion before these comments were sent to me, so I still expect to hear from them).
The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray disc:
"Supervised and approved by director Wes Anderson, this new high-definition transfer was created from the digital intermediate 2K files, which were scanned from the original 35 mm camera negative on a Spirit 4K Datacine.
Telecine supervisors: Wes Anderson, Robert Yeoman.
Telecine colorist: Joe Gawler/Technicolor, New York."
This is a strong high-definition transfer. Fine object detail is excellent, clarity pleasing and contrast levels consistent throughout the entire film. The color-scheme is very impressive - the variety of different yellows are beautiful; greens, blues, reds, browns, and blacks are rich and very well saturated. Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not a serious issue of concern. I did not see any compression artifacts either. I also did not see any serious stability issues to report in this review. Lastly, when blown through a digital projector The Darjeeling Limited conveys terrific depth and crispness. (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). "
The Darjeeling Limited Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There is only one audio track on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (with portions of Hindi). For the record, Criterion 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 track is very strong. The bass is potent and punchy, the rear channels very effective, and the high-frequencies not overdone. The dialog is crystal clear, crisp, clean, and very easy to follow. Furthermore, this isn't an audio track that would test the muscles of your audio system, but the variety of nuanced dynamics it offers should impress you. Last but not least, while viewing The Darjeeling Limited I did not hear any annoying pops, cracks, hissings, or dropouts to report in this review.
The Darjeeling Limited Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Commentary - in this audio commentary, recorded in March 2010, director Wes Anderson and co-screenwriters Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman discuss how The Darjeeling Limited evolved from an idea into a film, some of interesting locations seen throughout the film, how certain scenes were shot, the cast they worked with, etc. Generally speaking, this is a rather dry but very informative commentary.
Documentary by Barry Braverman - a standard making of featurette with plenty of raw footage from the shooting of The Darjeeling Limited in India. In English and portions of Hindi, not subtitled. (41 min, 1080p).
Conversation with James Ivory - a lot of the music in The Darjeeling Limited comes from the original scores from the films of Merchant Ivory and Satyajit Ray. Director Wes Anderson and James Ivory met in June 2010 and discussed this special tribute. In English, not subtitled. (21 min, 1080i).
Essay by Matt Zoller Seitz - Mr. Seitz, who reviewed Wes Anderson's Bottle Rocket in the Dallas Observer, deconstructs The Darjeeling Limited. In English, not subtitled. (12 min, 1080p).
American Express commercial - a hilarious spoof with Wes Anderson. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080p).
Sriharsh's audition - raw footage from the audition. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080i).
Oakley Friedberg/Packer speech - In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080i).
Deleted scene and two alternate takes - In English, not subtitled. (4 min, 1080p).
-- Playing cricket with a tennis ball.
-- Running down sand dune
-- Attempt to board plane
Sketch by Roman Coppola - a short sequence stirred together from Roman Coppolla's footage shot (mostly in India) during the writing of The Darjeeling Limited and set to the electronic tabla. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080i).
Waris' diary - In English, not subtitled. (1080i).
-- Life on the rails
-- Special effects
-- My costume
-- Lucky men
-- The scene
Trophy case - a quick look at the various awards The Darjeeling Limited has won. (1 min, 1080p).
Stills galleries - a collection of stills from full-time-on-set photographer James Hamilton, Laura Wilson (mother of Owen Wilson) and Sylvia Plachy (mother of Adrien Brody).
Theatrical trailer - the original theatrical trailer for The Darjeeling Limited. In English, not subtitled. (3 min, 1080p).
Booklet - an illustrated booklet containing Richard Brody's essay "Voyage to India" (Mr. Brody is the movies editor for the New Yorker's Goings On About Town and the author of Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard).
The Darjeeling Limited Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I enjoyed Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited but I don't believe I was able to connect with its main protagonists as I wanted to. I felt that there was a lot more behind their eccentricity which was kept away from me. So, I am going to see it again soon. As I noted elsewhere, while viewing The Darjeeling Limited I noticed a few rather large blue stripes popping up very early into the film. I have contacted Criterion to find out if I have received a defective screener or if there is a transfer issue of some sort that needs to be addressed. I will update our review as soon as I get a response.
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