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Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives(2010)
Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days with his loved ones in the countryside. During this time, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. In order to understand the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave which he comes to understand is the birthplace of his first life.
For more about Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives and the Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Blu-ray release, see Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on August 3, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Starring: Thanapat Saisaymar, Jenjira Pongpas, Sakda Kaewbuadee
» See full cast & crew
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, August 3, 2011
Winner of the prestigious Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival, Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives" (2010) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Strand Releasing. The supplemental features on the disc include the film's original theatrical trailer; deleted scenes; interview with director Apichatpong Weerasethakul; and the short film "A Letter to Uncle Boonmee". In Thai, with imposed English subtitles for the main feature. Region-Free.
Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is about a dying man, ghosts, and a country in transition. But it is not necessarily a film that needs to be understood; rather it is a film that needs to be experienced.
The dying man is Uncle Boonmee (Thanapat Saisaymar). He has returned to the village of Nubua, near the Laotian border in north-east Thailand, where his sister-in-law lives. He knows the area, its people, the animals, the trees, the winds, the shadows that scarred him when he was a kid. This is his home.
While having dinner with his son, Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee), and his sister-in-law, Jen (Jenjira Pongpas), Uncle Boonmee is visited by the ghost of his late wife, Huay. She quietly sits next to Uncle Boonmee and begins telling him about her past. The two have not seen each other in years. Soon, the ghost of his late son, Boonsong, also joins them. However, unlike Huay, who still looks young and beautiful, Boonsong has been reincarnated as a big monkey with glowing red eyes.
Eventually, Unclee Boonmee leads everyone through the jungle and deep inside a cave where he was supposedly born. It is a dark and strange place. Some of the jagged rocks look cold and ugly, others look wet and shiny. After awhile, everyone stops. Exhausted and visibly overwhelmed, Uncle Boonmee sits on the ground and sighs. It appears that this is the place he wanted everyone to see - a cold, dark, and unfriendly place. The End.
A small portion of the film also follows an ancient princess with a badly scarred face who befriends a talking fish. They meet at a small lake, somewhere deep inside a forest. At first it appears that the princess is getting ready to end her life, but the fish approaches her and quickly convinces her that she has what other women don't; not physical beauty, but something a lot more important, something that the princess has suppressed and forgotten. Then the fish goes between her legs and she orgasms.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is a deeply atmospheric film that attempts to capture the indefinable transition from life to death, and vice versa. The old man's final moments are marked by the presence of strange sensations and memories that remind him one last time about everything he has loved throughout his life, from people and places to feelings and emotions -- then his soul quietly leaves his body.
The princess has a similar experience, though she is brought back amongst the living. The lovemaking scene symbolizes her spiritual and physical reawakening. The film does not reveal anything about her past, but it is fairly easy to realize that she has been a living ghost.
There are interesting observations in the film about the past and present of director Weerasethakul's home country as well. For example, Uncle Boonmee confesses that killing the "commies" did not help the nation and was nothing but a "pain in the ass" (an obvious reference to the violence that occurred in Thailand between 1964-65, when the military government unleashed a massive communist purge), while Jen ponders the impact illegal immigration has had on the region.
Ultimately, however, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is not a film that needs to be overanalyzed - as it is full of life and death, simple truths and fascinating enigmas. In other words, it was never meant to be understood. It was meant to be experienced.
Note: Last year, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives won the prestigious Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival. The film also won Best Foreign Language Film Award at the Toronto Film Critics Association Awards.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-2 and granted a 1080p transfer, Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of Strand Releasing.
The high-definition transfer Strand Releasing have used for their Blu-ray release of Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives is practically identical to the one used by British distributors New Wave Films for their local Blu-ray release. Fine object detail, clarity, and contrast levels share similar characteristics -- the same overall softness is present during the exact same sequences and clarity again fluctuates depending on how natural light is used. The color-scheme is also practically identical to that of the UK release, though saturation is slightly stronger and color complexion darker (see screencapture #12 and screencapture #5 from our review for the UK release). Edge-enhancement is never a serious issues of concern. There are absolutely no traces of macroblocking patterns either. Finally, there are no purely transfer specific anomalies to report in this review. (Note: This is a Region-Free Blu-ray disc. Therefore, you will be able to play it on your PS3 or SA regardless of your geographical location).
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 and Thai Dolby Digital 2.0. For the record, Strand Releasing have provided imposed English subtitles for the main feature (the subtitles cannot be turned off).
As I mentioned in our review for the UK Blu-ray release, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives does not have the potential to test one's audio system. However, there are a few sequences in it with important ambient sounds. The Thai Dolby Digital 5.1 track handles them surprisingly well, though it does not open up the film quite like the Thai DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track from the UK Blu-ray release does. The waterfall sequence, in particular, is where the gap in quality is most obvious. Still, even though a loseless track is preferable, for this specific film the lossy track is more than appropriate. For the record, the dialog is crisp, clean, stable, and easy to follow.
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
I liked Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives a lot. It is a unique and truly mesmerizing film. Strand Releasing's Blu-ray presentation of the film is good. My only criticism is that the distributors did not port the strong loseless audio track from the UK Blu-ray release. With this film the lossy track is more than appropriate, but future Blu-ray releases must have loseless audio. RECOMMENDED.
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