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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Behind the Sun
Behind the Sun
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // PG-13 // June 18, 2002
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Aaron Beierle | posted June 25, 2002 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Movie:

Here is a movie with imagery so rich, so beautiful, so carefully composed that the movie is almost worth seeing solely on the incredible skill that cinematographer Walter Carvalho and director Walter Salles have demonstrated in their craft. I wish I would have seen this film on the big screen. The images even managed to add power and an additional level of involvement into a story that occasionally suffers from being a bit familiar.

The film takes place in the Brazilian badlands in 1910; a rural area that appears strangely beautiful in a bleak, quiet way. The film involves a feud between two families that seems like it's probably as old as time. The Ferreiras live on one side of a sugar cane field - they live in a larger house and are in the upper class of the society. On the other side of the field are the Breves family, a poorer, but hard-working group of people who farm the cane for a living.

The two sides have been locked in a bloody feud, but continue to go without much discussion of peace. One member from each side has attempted and often succeeded to kill someone from the other family. A truce is then called until the blood from the victim's shirt turns yellow. Then the attack from the other side side starts again. Early in the film Breves brother Tonio kills a member of the Ferreiras family and begins to realize the futility and tragedy of the situation. He also realizes that, when the shirt turns yellow and the tables turn, the Ferreiras will be coming after him next. A two-person traveling circus comes to town and Tonio falls for Clara (Flavia Marco Antonio), fueling his dreams of escape from the terrible cycle that he's become a part of.

Salles ("Central Station") gets terrific performances from what are reportedly a mixture of professional and non-professional actors. Ravi Ramos Lacerda is superb as younger brother Pacu, while Rodrigo Santoro is dramatic and powerful as Tonio. Flavia Marco Antonio is also excellent as Clara, giving her limited character personality and depth. Salles occasionally gets a bit carried away with the symbolism in the story, but the imagery and excellent performances are able to give the whole film an intensity that makes the tale more compelling and haunting than it might have been otherwise. Maybe not the best film I've seen in a while, but one that I think will stay in my memory for a long time.


The DVD

VIDEO: Somebody at Miramax thankfully seems to have realized that this is a film with remarkable visuals that should be seen in the best possible way. The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is nearly flawless, beautifully portraying the film's striking visuals. Presenting the 92-minute picture across a dual-layer DVD was certainly a good idea, too. Sharpness and detail are magnificent; the bright, outdoor sequences have exceptional depth to the image and even the dimly-lit/dark scenes appear crisp and well-defined, too.

The only flaw that I noticed that kept this presentation from a higher rating was just a hint of edge enhancement in a couple of scenes. It wasn't of much concern at all, but it was noticed. Pixelation is absent from the presentation, as are print flaws. The print was in superb condition, with no specks or marks to be found. The film's color palette is often as bleak as the surrounding area, although warmer tones occasionally are seen. This is a terrific transfer from Miramax - it appears they tried their best to make this beautiful film translate as well as possible to the small screen.

SOUND: "Behind The Sun" is presented in Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1. The soundtrack isn't as remarkable as the visuals, but it still does a fair job presenting what's needed. Although more ambience in the outdoor scenes would have been pleasant, a subtle amount of birds chirping and other elements were heard. Surrounds are rarely employed throughout the film, aside from some slight music and slighter sound effects. As for audio quality - the score, the sound effects and the music remained crisp and clear.

MENUS: The main menu has slight, but appropriate, animation.
EXTRAS: The film's trailer and a few "Sneak Peek" trailers for other Miramax titles.

Final Thoughts: "Behind The Sun" may be a somewhat simple tale, but it's powerfully performed and the visuals not only are beautiful (among the most stunning I've seen in recent memory), but actually added to the drama. Miramax's DVD offers excellent video quality, good audio and minimal supplements. Certainly worthy a look as a rental for those who haven't seen it. Fans of the film should purchase as, although not a special edition (supplements would have been nice), Miramax has obviously taken care to present the film's astoundingly goregeous visuals well.

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