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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, German, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Arabic, Turkish, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Hindi
  Extras
  • 2 Theatrical trailer - Jakob the Liar and Awakenings
  • Audio commentary - by director Peter Kassovitz
  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Featurette - behind the scenes with interviews of cast and crew
  • Isolated music score

Jakob The Liar - Collector's Edition

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 116 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Hitler goes to a fortune teller and asks "When will I die?" and the fortuneteller replies "On a Jewish holiday." Hitler then asks "How do you know that?" and she replies "Any day you die will be a Jewish holiday."

It is with this opening line that the tone of the movie is set. We immeadiately know we're here to be told about the plight of a Nazi run ghetto where all hope is lost, but for one man, Jakob Heym (Robin Williams) who stumbles into the office of one of the Germans where the radio is broadcasting a message of how the Russians are driving back the German forces some 400 kilometers away.

He passes on the news to his friend Mischa (Liev Schreiber) in confidence but soon the whole ghetto has heard of Jakob and his radio. Any equipment that provides a form of news to the people of the ghetto is illegal and this news soon splits the town into those who fear their lives are in danger and those wanting to know more of what is happening outside these walls.

Despite all Jakobs efforts to cease the rumors of him owning a radio, he has to supply a constant flow of news to his fellow people and the only way he knows how is to lie to them. The look of hope in their eyes and the renewed spring in their step is too hard for him to take away with the truth but it soon gets him and his people into the trouble they all feared.

  Video
Contract

It get's pretty difficult to judge a video transfer when the source does not come from the latest and greatest high contrast film stock. But then with films like Jakob the Liar, it can easily be seen that the stock used was deliberate, to achieve the gritty look of the ghettos.

To this end, I'd say the transfer achieved its objective with ease as this is another exceptional transfer from the house or Columbia. Surprisingly, there is a gold standard quality sticker on the case but no intro splash screen before the feature film.

There is an obvious lack of color saturation to help achieve the look of the film which only leaves a very greyish tone to the image. Where the transfer stands out is in the detail afforded in the dvd image. There is an ever so slight hint of edge enhancement in the image that is noticeable in the opening credits but other than that there is plenty of detail to produce two dvds.

Black level is slightly lacking but once again see my comments above about the lack of contrast in said film stock. There is an abundance of shadow detail which gives even more clues to it being a film stock issue rather than any over exposure issues in the telecine process.

  Audio
Contract

Don't expect to judge the bang for buck factor of your newly invested home theatre system with this title as the 5.1 encoding present is not, and didn't need to be, fully utilised.

It seems apparent that the front soundstage takes presedence in this presentation with good channel separation across your mains and center. Bass is rarely present other than the occasional on-screen train. Very rarely do the surrounds get used for anything other than the occasional ambience in crowd scenes or when the musical score makes it's presence felt.

Speaking of the musical score, it's a very touching composition by Edward Shearmur that is reflective of the polish plight during that era. Don't expect a score of the calibre of John Williams and Schindlers List but it certainly doesn't have anyhing to be ashamed of. There is a common theme throughout the movie that is both used for the highs and lows.

Do yourself a favor and listen to the isolated musical score that is also present on this disc. See extras below.

  Extras
Contract

Just your standard Collector's Edition of extras which almost seem standard for a basic dvd these days.

  • Audio Commentary by director Peter Kassovitz - Sometimes you get a foreign director who has found an english word that they feel are perfect for his profession. In this case, Peter's word is "sequences" as he uses it in almost every sentence. As a commentary, it's pretty ordinary with only minimal real insight into the movie with alot of silent passages.
  • Isolated musical score - This is a very welcome feature in some of the latest dvd releases and the musical score here is truly enjoyable. Take time out to listen to this one.
  • Theatrical Trailer - Full frame with a softer image than the feature itself.
  • Trailer to Awakenings - Eeeek, very ordinary full frame image that wouldn't do sales of the dvd any favors.
  • Behind the scenes featurette - Another of those 5 minute features with short cast interviews. A better attempt than others of late.
  • Cast Crew Biographies - short 2 page info on the director and select cast.

  Overall  
Contract

This is a simple story but is still pretty moving. I've always been on two sides of the fence with Robin Williams. Either I like his movie or I don't. This one I like, alot. I'd go so far as saying that this is probably one of his best performances. A bold statement I know, but I truly enjoyed him in this role.

This fable comes to life with the great supporting cast of unknown knowns, if you get what I mean. I'd say it's success is in it's simplicity, as all good fables are, and I highly recommend a rental atleast as I know this film is not for everyones personal collection. I really, really enjoyed Jakob the Liar.


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