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Youth Without Youth(2007)
Dominic Matei (Tim Roth), an aging professor of linguistics, survives a cataclysmic event to find his youth miraculously restored. Dominic's physical rejuvenation is matched by a highly evolved intellect, which attracts the attention of Nazi scientists, forcing him into exile. While on the run, he reunites with his lost love, Laura, and works to complete his research into the origins of human language. When his research threatens Laura's well being, Dominic is forced to choose between his life's work and the great love of his life.
For more about Youth Without Youth and the Youth Without Youth Blu-ray release, see Youth Without Youth Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 9, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Tim Roth, Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, Marcel Iures
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
» See full cast & crew
Youth Without Youth Blu-ray Review
Francis Ford Coppola's return to filmmaking is now available on Blu-ray high definition.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 9, 2008
I am a mutant, like a character in a science fiction novel. I am a strange Superman of the future.
One of the most respected filmmakers of our time, director of such cinematic treasures as The Godfather trilogy, Apocalypse Now, and Bram Stoker's Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola makes his long-awaited return to directing in 2007's Youth Without Youth, a film sure to try the patience of even the most stalwart and stoical of filmgoers. Sometimes the best films are those that slip under the radar, films that don't succeed theatrically but gain a following on home video and through word-of-mouth. Youth Without Youth barely received a theatrical release, grossing less than $250,000 in an extremely limited release. Colpolla has described this film as "very personal." No doubt, this isn't a film for the masses, or even for movie-goers with a penchant for sampling more offbeat, stylized, slower-paced, analytical films. Rather, this film seems directed toward a select audience that eschews the norm, desiring anything but the latest blockbuster or even independent art house feature, film-aficionados searching for a mind-boggling film that, taken in just the right context and frame-of-mind, just might spark some kind of internal philosophical war, taking those viewers on a personal journey through one's own outlook on life, and the life they live from day-to-day.
Dominic (Tim Roth, To Kill A King) is a learned and elderly man contemplating death -- by his own hand. Before he can terminate his own existence in pre-war 1930s Romania, fate deals him a much sweeter blow -- he is struck by lightning and awakens in the hospital, lucky to be alive. His doctors consider his survival a miracle, or at least find his a most puzzling recovery. Certainly, they cannot explain why he is neither paralyzed, mute, nor blind. When his rotten teeth fall out, x-rays show a fresh set growing underneath. The once 70-year-old Dominic leaves the hospital a revitalized and perfectly healthy man of 40 years in body and becomes a subject of interest by the Third Reich. Not only does he grow younger, but he begins to gain extraordinary powers, such as the ability to read a book simply by passing the closed text in front of his face (Even Lt. Commander Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation, who could polish off "War and Peace" in mere moments, wasn't this good) or seizing control of another man's bodily actions, or see the future (useful in earning a living through gambling). Dominic takes advantages of his newfound powers and youth to continue his studies pertaining to the origins of language and human consciousness. It isn't until he meets the beautiful Veronica (Alexandra Maria Lara, The Company), a woman who reminds him of his love interest of old, Laura, that is able to begin fulfilling his lifelong academic pursuits. She, too, seems to be inflicted with a condition similar to that of Dominic. Her linguistic abilities continue to devolve into primitive tongues, and Dominic is finally able to truly learn what it is he's sought for his entire life, but at what price will it come for both he and Veronica?
Youth Without Youth hearkens back to the days of cinema yore, telling a slow, deliberately paced tale that doesn't rely on an abundance of glitzy special effects but rather in-camera trickery and odd filming angles (including some upside-down shots), some in the style of the greats of Hollywood past such as Hitchcock and Welles, and never seeming to be gimmicky or out-of-place as they most certainly would have been in the hands of a far less skilled filmmaker than Coppola. These shots tend to convey rather well the reality of distorted emotions and inhuman reality, adding to the confusion and disorientation felt by both the in-film characters as well as the audience. The movie also features the old-timey style of presenting the entirety of the credits at the start of the movie, setting a tone, perhaps, of something old being revived anew. There is also a nice film noir quality in certain scenes of the movie. This is evident in the use of shadows, the style of clothing, the posturing of the characters, and the angle and style of the shots. In each instance, this quality adds another layer of intrigue to the film both stylistically and thematically.
Youth Without Youth is one of those movies that, should you fall behind the plot for only a few seconds to, say, glance at your watch or get a refreshment, you'll have to either rewind or start from scratch. The movie requires your utmost attention. Every development and every moment of the film builds on the previous developments and moments, all of which again combine to form the basis of the remainder of the film. It's an ever-growing entity that leaves audiences absolutely no room to breathe. So expertly crafted and mind-consuming is the film that we have nary a moment to appreciate the finer aspects, making a review of the technical details a bit more difficult than normal, and also making an assessment of anything but the story itself near impossible, save for returning for multiple viewings. Nevertheless, its obvious that the film is in the hands of both a highly skilled filmmaker and major actors. Tim Roth, in particular, delivers a brilliant performance, one so deep and seemingly anonymous that he seems to have morphed into the role. Forget the popcorn and soft drink; save your money and bring with you instead an extra-large serving of patience (it's a virtue) and an open mind to your screening of Youth Without Youth. You may not like it, but it's a film that definitely deserves the attention of the more ardent, accepting, forgiving, and curious filmgoer.
Youth Without Youth Blu-ray, Video Quality
The 2.35:1 framed, 1080p high definition Blu-ray version of Francis Ford Coppola's Youth Without Youth is a stunning achievement. Filmed with Sony's HDC-F950 high definition camera, the results on Blu-ray are predictably excellent, the image rarely failing to impress. There were a few instances where black levels seemed a bit to bright and gray, and softness befell the image in a few sequences, but I'm convinced that any anomalies are likely attributable to director intent rather than any blemish on the mastering of the disc. Detail is remarkably high in many shots. Take, for example, a close-up of Dominic after his encounter with lightning as he lies in his hospital bed, covered in bandages. Every thread and frayed edge of his wrappings are easily discernible. Many shots are sepia toned (mostly in flashbacks where some seem to slowly gain color as the shots wear on), nearly black and white at times, while other, "normal" shots are remarkably vibrant. Some scenery is simply too stunning for words; a shot of the green leaves of a tree outside the hospital on a clear, bright day results in an image almost too good, so beautiful it would be hard to replicate it again in real life, or to find such stunning imagery at another location away from where the shot was captured. I did note a few instances of reddish-in-appearance flesh tones, though so far and few between it's likely that some unseen or odd lighting source was the culprit more so than a lazy or imperfect transfer. An excellent image overall, I would not rank Youth Without Youth among the very best 5-star material, but it's no slouch, either, filmed in high definition and obviously shining on Blu-ray.
Youth Without Youth Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Equally impressive as the video quality is the film's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless sound mix. The first moments of the movie are a true sonic wonderment, as the soundstage becomes filled with so many sounds we can sometimes identify, sometimes not. The subwoofer reports very deep, rumbling lows as every other channel works hard to bring us a cacophony of bizarre sounds, but I'll be darned if it doesn't sound fabulous. When Dominic is struck by lightning the sound literally comes out of nowhere, shocking the Blu-ray viewer just as much as the victim -- I literally jumped and yelled "whoa!" Other than strong dialogue and ambience, there are plenty of other engaging sonic moments in the film, such as what we hear during a Nazi experiment involving high-voltage, powerfully employing the entire sound field, equalling and possibly surpassing the excellence of the film's opening assault of sound. We hear the sounds of war (machine guns, bombs) played over various newspaper headlines meant to place the scene in the proper timeframe over the course of the film, creating an awesome aural experience. Simply a strong, engaging listen, from the loudest to the most quiet of scenes, Youth Without Youth presents a strong, well-balanced, and engaging listen, definitely befitting the material, and Blu-ray, very well indeed.
Youth Without Youth Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Viewers of this Blu-ray disc wanting to go deeper into the film won't be left waiting for eternity as the disc provides several good extras, beginning with a feature-length commentary by director Francis Ford Coppola. His passion for the film, its original story, and the filmmaking process in general is evident throughout. Coppola delves into quite a bit of the meaning of the imagery and themes present through the movie and never allows a dull moment to slip into his track. This track is simply a must-listen for anyone who yearns to hear further insight into this motion picture. The Making of 'Youth Without Youth' (480p, 8:42) is a brief feature that showcases several filmmakers and cast discussing the meaning of the movie. Matt Damon, who appears in a brief scene in the film, says it best when he proclaims the movie to be "experimental...exactly the kind of movie you want Francis Ford Coppola to be making." The Music For 'Youth Without Youth' (480p, 26:52) takes a detailed look at the importance of music in the picture, as well as its production and integration into the movie. 'Youth Without Youth': The Make-Up (1080i, 18:03) examines the finer details added to the characters to make them appear just right for their part and their scenes. End Credits (1080p, 4:05) is a traditional, complete listing of the credits generally seen at the end of a film but included only as an extra on this disc. Finally, trailers for Persepolis, Steep, The Lives of Others, Black Book, The Jane Austen Book Club, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and a promotional Blu-ray montage conclude the special features section of the disc.
Youth Without Youth Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Of course, everything I've written about the movie itself needs to be taken with a grain of salt. If any movie is ripe for polarization amongst movie goers, it is this one, and this is one film I strongly urge you to see and decide for yourself, if it sounds at all appealing to you. I'm still not sure how I feel about the movie, now several hours after its final shot, hence my score for the film right in the middle of the scale. As for whether the movie is any good or not, it's certainly "good" from a technical perspective, but "entertaining" it most certainly is not. If your movie-going penchant runs to the strange, slowly paced, deep, and thought provoking films that probably won't make sense unless you give them your complete attention over the course of several viewings, Youth Without Youth might just be for you. If it is for you, this Blu-ray edition is the superior way in which to indulge your appreciation. Offering movie lovers a fine video and audio presentation along with a few extras to help in your understanding of the proceedings, the technical parts of the disc definitely benefit the movie. No recommendation here as to the movie itself, but should you choose to see the film, I do, of course, heartily recommend the Blu-ray version.
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Youth Without Youth Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Coppola's Youth Without Youth Coming to Blu-ray - March 4, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will bring Francis Ford Coppola's film 'Youth Without Youth' to Blu-ray on May 13th, day-and-date with the DVD release. Video will be presented in 2.35:1 1080p AVC accompanies by a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. ...
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