Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment .
R4 . COLOR . 122 mins .
M15+ . PAL
Recently married to the son of a wealthy banker, Sarah Jordon (Angelina Jolie) has her life turned upside down when a charity event she attends is disrupted by renegade doctor and aid worker Nick Callahan (Clive Owen). After losing vital funding for famine relief at his camp in Ethiopia, Callahan flies to London to confront the man who withdrew his funding and put the lives of 30,000 starving people in mortal danger. That man also happens to be Sarahís new father in law.
You ordered a banana sir?
Touched by the story, Sarah travels to the ravaged deserts of Africa to deliver some much needed food and medical supplies. This is the first step in an epic tale spanning ten years and three continents, braving famine, civil war, revolution and corruption to make a difference in the lives of thousands of people who would otherwise have nobody, and ultimately to make a difference in her own life as she and Nick find in each other a love that endures unspeakable suffering.
Itís really not as soppy as it sounds. While most romance stories are set in civilisation and played out by unhappy or lonely office workers, Beyond Borders counter-balances the usual boy meets girls story with a backdrop of intrigue, war, despair, death and famine but ultimately love and hope (with an interesting surprise ending).
Prior to her involvement with Beyond Borders, Jolie did some work with the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the same organisation featured in the film. Similarly, the writers spent years interviewing aid workers and UN employees to get a feel for life in the war torn and famine ravage regions of the world at various times over the last 20 years.
Welcome to Dust-r-us.
Though Beyond Borders is not based on real characters, the story does cover actual world events from the 1980ís famine in Ethiopia to the civil war in Chechnya, it resonates with a realism that can only be reproduced with years of research and experience.
The video presentation of Beyond Borders is characterised by the three distinct looks given to each of the main parts of the film. Warm brown and red hues are used in the Ethiopian section, giving a dirty and earthy feel to the movie. In Cambodia, the hues turn more blue and dark with the jungle scenes being particularly well filmed. Although quite dark, they never lose detail within in the image.
My wips are fweezing.
The final act in Chechnya is the shortest but also the most dynamic and different. A very dark, grey and deliberately grainy feel is presented in a successful attempt to emulate news reel footage for the entire act.
The original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is used in this anamorphic widescreen transfer. The three distinct looks are brilliantly pulled off and the image quality throughout is excellent. The colour balance is perfect, shadows hold their detail well and the picture is always clear and sharp.
The absence of alternate language tracks is surprising given the content of this film but the quality of both 5.1 and 2.0 audio tracks are exemplary. The majority of the movie is dialog driven and is always clear, crisp and easily heard over background ambience or sound effect.
While the first two thirds of the movie donít feature a lot of whiz-bang surround or subwoofer use, when the final act in Chechnya kicks in so do all the other speakers. The crack of a sniper rifle near the end literally blew me out of my seat and the spectacular battle scene near this point, which is enough to wake up the most hardened action movie buff from their romance induced slumber also gives your 5.1 speakers a suitable workout.
The score by James Horner (most famous for his work on Titanic) is perfect for the tone of the film and is never obtrusive or obvious, the hallmark of any great musical score.
For a single disc edition, the Beyond Borders DVD packs in a few extras that are worthy of a watch or listen:
The main Audio Commentary is marred slightly by an odd timing error at the beginning of the movie where the first few seconds of dialog are cut off. The commentary itself though is actually above the norm in contrast to others I've experienced. The speakers never actually get a chance to introduce themselves (it may have been in the cut off part) but Iím going to take a wild guess at it being Director Martin Campbell and screenplay writer Caspian Tredwell-Owen.
Running for the full length of the feature Campbell ane Tredwell-Owen share with us the usual insights into the film making process but go beyond the norm with interesting facts about the plot, character motivations, cast, crew, props, costumes, set design and a whole raft of other very interesting tidbits. Interestingly, they never fail to mention more than once that this film was seen by the UN and given the UN stamp of approval by Kofi Anon himself.
Itís usually hard to enjoy commentary by the filmmakers (the actors versions are usually so much more entertaining) but this one is a true exception, well worth a listen.
The making of documentary Beyond the Lines runs for 38 minutes and spans the process of making the movie on three different continents on location in Canada (as London and Chechnya), Namibia and Thailand. Mostly pretty stock standard 'making of' fare it does provide a little information on how the different look of each act of the movie was achieved. The usual cast and crew interviews are interspersed by actual film and on location footage.
Writer Caspian Tredwell-Owen spends eight minutes in Writing Beyond Borders explaining the two year process he went through to gather facts and accounts of real events on which to build the three main humanitarian relief effort events of the movie.
Hurry up and take the photo. It's cold.
Prior to the filming of the movie Angelina Jolie spent some time travelling to humanitarian aid hotspots with the UN and was ultimately named UN Goodwill Ambassador. This short 3 minute featurette, Angelina Jolie Goodwill Ambassador, documents some of her work with the UN.
Finally, we're also blessed with a Theatrical Trailer for Beyond Borders
Colour me pleasantly surprised.
I wasnít sure what to expect from Beyond Borders but it delivers as a romantic story with a difference and is well worth a watch.