Sunset Song (2015)

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Released 8-Feb-2017

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Madman Propaganda x 4
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2015
Running Time 130:18
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Terence Davies
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Agyness Deyn
Peter Mullan
Kevin Guthrie
Daniela Nardini
Jack Greenless
Ian Pirie
Douglas Rankine
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music Gast Waltzing


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

"Nothing endured but the land"

†††† It is the beginning of the 20th century. Chris Guthrie (Agyness Deyn) is an intelligent, clever teenaged girl who lives on a farm in Scotland with her father John (Peter Mullan), mother Jean (Daniela Nardini), older brother Will (Jack Greenless), two preschool brothers and newly born twin girls. John is a stern, unforgiving man and a bully, ready to use his fists and his belt on Will for the slightest misdemeanours. Chris has no wish to stay on the land and instead wants to become a teacher but she has to forgo her dreams when her mother, worn out by having babies and pregnant again, commits suicide, poisoning herself and the two youngest children. Later Will leaves the farm, marries and immigrates to Argentina; John suffers a stroke and, bedridden, is looked after by Chris until he dies.

†††† Chris takes up the running of the farm and receives help from neighbours Chae (Ian Pirie), Rob (Douglas Rankine) and Ewan (Kevin Guthrie). Chris is drawn to Ewan and the feeling is mutual; they soon marry and despite the hardness of farm life Chris experiences perhaps the happiest period of her life, including the birth of a healthy son they name Ewan. But World War 1 breaks out and the cancer that is war spreads even into the Scottish farmlands, with men who do not enlist being called cowards and traitors from the church pulpits. Chae, Rob and Ewan enlist and are sent to fight in France. Ewan later comes home on leave but he has been horribly changed by the experience; he is a morose and angry man and the homecoming is not pleasant. He does return to France and fate has yet another tragedy waiting for Chris.

†††† Sunset Song, based on the classic Scottish novel by Lewis Grassic Gibbon first published in 1932, is scripted and directed by Terence Davies (The House of Mirth (2000), The Deep Blue Sea (2011)). As a film Sunset Song is a luscious, tragic, old fashioned historical melodrama. It is breathtakingly beautiful; the widescreen compositions by cinematographer Michael McDonough (Winterís Bone (2010)), exteriors and interiors, are stunning: whether the countryside with its sweeping fields of golden grain, the green trees, the grey of stone farmhouses in the snow or the dark interiors of the farms and barns, each frame is beautiful with a striking depth of field. Sunset Song does linger on these compositions and is leisurely and traditional filmmaking; the film is replete with long, steady takes with a static camera and the story of Chris enfolds chronologically, except for a section towards the end. This is unfussy storytelling and unfussy filmmaking relying on the visuals and the actors to tell the tragic story of a young womanís endurance.

†††† Peter Mullan is an experienced actor, having worked, for example, with Ken Loach in Riff-Raff (1991) and My Name is Joe (1998) for which Mullan won the best actor award at Cannes. Mullan is absolutely compelling as the uncompromising father, dominating every scene he is in. However, Sunset Song is Chrisí journey; the inexperienced Agyness Deynís voiceover guides the story and she is in practically every scene which is where the film falters as she lacks the conviction to pull of the drama successfully. The result is that towards the end, when her tragedy reaches what should be a tear-jerking climax, the scenes are just not as engaging as they should be. Whether this is the writing, or the acting, the audience remains at a distance.

†††† I have not read the book which is considered one of the greats of Scottish 20th century literature, so I cannot say how closely Sunset Song follows the story. As a film the cinematography is stunning, an epic story, and a tragic one, looking at the struggle of one intelligent woman to come to terms with the land, and her fate.

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Sunset Song is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.

†††† Simply put: Sunset Song is luscious, sumptuous and gorgeous. Detail is strong and colours are rich and natural, with vibrant yellow, blue and green. Blacks and shadow detail are excellent, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. I noticed no marks but there was occasional shimmer with a moving camera on rocks such as the rock fence and trees at 39:35.

††††The layer change was not noticeable on my equipment.

†††† English captions for the hearing impaired are available in a clear white font.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† There are two English audio choices: Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps or Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps.

†††† Sunset Song is a film with a subtle sound design. There is no action as such, but the rears and surrounds frequently delivered bird sounds, wind in the grain, thunder and rain. The dialogue was naturalistic but sometimes hard to understand due to the accents. The original score by Gast Waltzing was not over used; in fact there was only silence in a number of scenes. The subwoofer added depth to the thunder and rain.

†††† Lip synchronisation seemed fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Theatrical Trailer (1:51)

Madman Propaganda

†††† Trailers for Shepherds and Butchers (2:45), 45 Years (2:11), The Benefactor (2:45) and The Idealist (2:32).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† DVD releases of Sunset Song in other regions have different subtitle options but none have any extras. Buy local.

Summary

†††† Sunset Song is an old fashioned historical epic of one womanís struggle with her fate. It is slowly paced, tragic and melodramatic, which is fine, but it is a case where the stunningly beautiful visuals tend to overwhelm the story. However, it is well made and fans of the genre will find much to enjoy.

†††† The video is gorgeous, the audio fine. A film trailer and trailers for other films are the only extras, but there is nothing more in other regions.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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