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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • 6 Teaser trailer - Lumumba, The Closet, Kandahar, Monsoon Wedding, The Bank, Open Your Eyes
  • 1 Theatrical trailer - Open Your Eyes
  • 6 Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes
  • Animated menus
  • 1 Music video
  • 1 TV spot - Open Your Eyes
  • 1 Discography - Awards Listing

Open Your Eyes

Madman Entertainment/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 117 mins . M . PAL

  Feature
Contract

What is reality? But then what is a dream? How do you know if you are dreaming? No, not to pinch yourself, seriously.

Alejandro Amenábar has the skill to create the perfect suspense thriller. The Others, recently released on DVD, had a wider release due to its English language and leading lady, but this film really winds you up to a conclusion that is just stunning. Vanilla Sky starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and Penélope Cruz (who stars in Open Your Eyes) was loosely based upon the story from Open Your Eyes. Amenábar created the film with such a bizarre sequence of events and a story that remains unclear until the closing scenes when it all fits together. In other words, this film hasn’t been 'Hollywoodised'. This is where Vanilla Sky misses out. Trying to take a story of a foreign film and translate it to an American format for a wider audience just doesn’t work. Adapting a film from another film is just hard to do, and even harder to do well. That is why the Spanish version works, as well as its unique suspenseful style and originality.

All the elements of this film work so well together, from cinematography, to the hauntingly beautiful score, to the stunning performances by all concerned, right up to the final chilling sequence which throws everything together and multiplies it by 100. Penélope Cruz is stunning as the beautiful Sofia, and Eduardo Noriega is believable as the deformed, disillusioned protagonist.

The story is based around César (Eduardo Noriega) who is popular, handsome, and has a long list of one-nighters. But there is one of these women (Nuria, Najwa Nimri) who stays a second night, and challenges his reputation. Nuria just won’t go away, and César has found Sofia (Cruz), a beautiful actress. After sharing an intimate night (with no sex, either) with Sofia, the possessive Nuria picks up César from Sofia’s apartment. Nuria, however, takes one too many pills and commits suicide with César in the car by driving off an embankment. César is left with his face deformed, a best friend Pelayo (Fele Martínez) who won’t look at him and a beautiful woman who is scared of him. César is now in a psychiatric hospital for the murder of a woman named Eli which he can’t remember committing, and a psychiatrist trying to break the seal on César’s past. César is unable to break free from this nightmare back into reality, but how far away is this reality?

This is a very vague description of the introduction to get you started, nothing else can be said because the intended effect of the film would be lost. There is no way to summarise this film, there is too much going on with so much detail and so many little pieces that link together, it really needs to be seen to be understood.

  Video
Contract

The video is presented in a widescreen aspect of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

The clarity of the picture is superb, as we have come to love with more recent transfers. The film was made in 1997, and looks fantastic on screen given its age. OK, its only five years, but still some older transfers don’t stand up to the test, let alone a film with a limited audience. The print is remarkably clean with very little grain, and the odd one or two film artefacts. Sharpness is not a problem at all, with razor sharp edges throughout the film. Generally MPEG artefacts are not a problem, except at 58:05, where a small artefact can be seen on the door frame. It’s no biggie, but just swaps two ‘blocks’ of the doorframe with the white background. It’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it case, but its still there.

The colours are superb, with rich, bright and vivid tones. The skin colours are very realistic, except the opening sequence suffers from some slight lobster-syndrome, or reddish skin tones. The blacks are solidly black, with no sign of low-level noise, and the shadow detail is defined and sharp.

Being a single sided, single layered disc, there is no layer change to whinge about.

This film is Spanish, and features subtitles for those of us who can’t speak Spanish fluently. The subtitles are yellow with a fine black outline and are very easy to read. At times they can get a bit fast, but generally they are very clear. One spelling error was noted in the subtitles, nothing major, just an observation. As per usual with subtitles, voice-overs are italicised, and the majority of the voice-overs are, except for the odd one or two words that were missed. Strange but true!

  Audio
Contract

There is only one audio track on this disc, Dolby Digital 2.0 in Spanish. This film could have done with an English track, but this way there is only one option making it easy to make a decision. Being in its native tongue, there are no lip synch problems.

The stereo track sounds great as far as stereo soundtracks go, but the film could have definitely benefited from a 5.1, or at least surround, soundtrack. There is very little directional sound from the front two speakers, but they do offer a full-on soundtrack.

The score, composed by Alejandro Amenábar and Mariano Marín, is richly touching and suspenseful. The bass is rocked by the deep tones of the cellos and double basses, and the violins and violas hold the high-tension sequences together. Brass gets a subdued part of the score, as does percussion, where these add colours to the sound rather than drive it along. The score is suitably fitting and superbly recorded.

  Extras
Contract

The usual Madman Entertainment extra features are apparent here, making it a joy to review. The menu is simply animated, yet aesthetically very good, with a clip of background audio featuring Abre Los Ojos. The main menu is the only animated menu, the others are static and silent.

The promotional materials have been placed on a page labelled Promotion funnily enough, and feature a trailer (1:38), teaser (:49) and TV spot (:10) to advertise the film, as well as a music video. The trailers are all presented in a non-16x9-enhanced aspect of 1.85:1, with Spanish 2.0 audio. Sadly no subtitles are available, making the trailers relatively hard to understand as far as what is going on. The music video runs for 3:56 and is presented with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. It is an alternative rock song, in Spanish, which features in the film at César’s party in the beginning.

Profiles features information on six members of the cast and crew. The cast pages are for Eduardo Noriega, Penélope Cruz, Chete Leta, Fele Martínez and Najwa Nimri, and the crew pages for the director Alejandro Amenábar. They are the stock standard brief profiles with attached filmographies.

Production Notes features ten pages of notes on the making of the film that are relatively interesting to read given the lack of other 'making-of' features. The text is easy to read, and it is easy to navigate through the pages.

Awards features four pages of different awards the film has won. Nothing overly exciting, but informative nonetheless.

The Madman Propaganda - the feature that always comes last, but is often good to watch. It features trailers for other Madman films. The trailers are The Bank (1:58, 1.85:1, DD 2.0), Lumumba (1:32, 1.85:1, DD 2.0), The Closet (1:17, 1.33:1, DD 2.0), Kandahar (1:24, 1.85:1, DD 2.0) and Monsoon Wedding (2:13, 1.85:1, DD 2.0). None of the trailers are 16x9 enhanced. They are each featured on their own page within the Madman Propaganda section of the disc.

  Overall  
Contract

A complex, suspenseful, beautifully shot, exquisitely told film that's simply perfect for a thriller night. The video transfer is very very good, and the audio track is adequate, but a surround track would have been even better. The extras are sufficient, except for the Spanish trailers with no subtitles available. This film is definitely not for everyone due to the fact that it's foreign, but if you are in need of a good thriller and don’t mind reading the film (unless you speak Spanish), then grab this title immediately.


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      And I quote...
    "This complex suspense thriller draws a fine line between reality and dreams. Just hope that you wake up from your dreams..."
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nowa DS-8318
    • TV:
          TEAC 68cm CTV
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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