DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Barbarian Invasions
Barbarian Invasions
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // R // July 13, 2004
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted August 18, 2004 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Rent It
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
The movie

The Barbarian Invasions is, I think, one of those films that you either like a whole lot, or you find rather flat. It's not a "love it or hate it" film, as there's really nothing here that would really drive someone crazy (unless this putative viewer just can't stand movies that revolve around people talking to each other), but it does depend to a considerable degree on what the viewer makes of the film. If you don't click with the characters and situation right away, the film doesn't make much of an effort to draw you in.

The story revolves around a dying man, Rémy, and his family and friends who come to reminisce about their times together, celebrate his life, and say goodbye. In particular, the film focuses on the character of Sebastién, Rémy's semi-estranged son, who starts out taking care of his father simply because it's the right thing to do, and ends up deeply emotionally involved.

The ensemble cast certainly does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life; while they're not, in my view, sufficiently developed in terms of the story, even in what we see of them, they all seem like real people who are doing their best to get through a difficult time in their lives. The Barbarian Invasions is to a great extent a slice of life from a family and community of friends united in grief, and as such it provides only as much closure as the characters themselves get from their experiences. But natural and believable characters and story aside, the problem with The Barbarian Invasions is that it's too much just a slice of life. Watching the film is like looking through the window at someone's family gathering: we see the people interacting with each other, notice their relationships, become aware of their emotional states, and... move on. The glass wall between us and them is a reminder that we're observers, not participants, and we know that once we continue onward, we'll never see these people again or know anything more about them.

I mentioned a moment ago that your reaction to the film depends on what you bring to it. If you manage to make an emotional connection to any of these characters early on, so that you feel for them, and want to know more about their relationships with others, then The Barbarian Invasions will likely impress you with its subtle handling of the emotional content of the film, and you'll probably find the conclusion deeply touching. That's a fairly big "if," though, since the film gives little context to the situation or characters. While the introductory scenes seem promising, the initial feeling of involvement in the film gradually fades. It doesn't help matters much that there's a generous helping of secondary characters whose relationships are never well explained, and whose characters are never fleshed out. It's realistic, sure: all these people know who each other are, so they don't need any hints or on-screen character development. But for the viewers who are on the other side of that glass wall, it's yet another way in which The Barbarian Invasions makes it hard to feel connected to the story.

The DVD

Video

Miramax's presentation of The Barbarian Invasions is nicely done, giving fans of the film a high-quality anamorphic transfer. Edge enhancement and noise are minimal, and the image is clear and clean-looking. The color palette is quiet but deliberately so, with both skin tones and other colors looking clean and natural. The English subtitles are optional, and are easy to read. The one issue is that the transfer is in 1.85:1 aspect ratio, rather than the film's theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 (as the back cover claims). There are no obvious cropping problems, fortunately, but it would have been much better for Miramax to present it in its original aspect ratio.

Audio

Viewers have the choice of a French Dolby 5.1 or a French Dolby 2.0 soundtrack, with optional English subtitles. The sound is clear and natural-sounding, with a pleasing fullness from the surround track even in this dialogue-driven film.

Extras

What looks like a promising 50-minute documentary called "Inside The Barbarian Invasions" turns out to be a disappointment: it's a purely promotional piece that is explicitly aimed at viewers who have not seen the film. In addition to clips from the film and odd philosophical ramblings from the narrator, this featurette assembles the cast in an informal get-together, where they chat about various aspects of the film and its themes. Nothing of particular interest is said.

The other special feature is a set of trailers for other Miramax films: My Voyage to Italy, Paper Clips, People I Know, The Human Stain, and Shall We Dance.

Final thoughts

The Barbarian Invasions has gotten enough acclaim that it's clearly effective for at least some viewers, perhaps those who have experienced events similar to those depicted in the film and thus have a built-in point of reference. I found it to be a watchable but nonetheless flat and uninvolving film, one that presents its material in a stylistically competent manner but without that extra something to draw the viewer in and make the material really work. Rent it.

Popular Reviews
1. Double Indemnity - 70th Anniversary Limited Edition
2. Fargo: Remastered Edition
3. Angry Birds Toons - Season 01 Volume 02
4. Touch of Evil - Limited Edition
5. The Carol Burnett Show: Carol's Crack Ups
6. Hill Street Blues: The Complete Series
7. Star Trek: Enterprise - Season Four
8. Demons
9. Escape From Tomorrow
10. The Rise and Fall Of The Clash


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use