Import Week, Day 4: Back To Spain for The Sea Inside

You may recall, about two years ago, I got interested in sussing out all those Spanish blu-rays... which were grey market, which were BDRs or upconverts?  Well, there's still a lot of really enticing exclusives down there, so for the next two Days of Import Week, I thought I'd swing back around there, this time for The Sea Inside, an impressive Academy Award winning film (it won Best Foreign Film and was also nominated for Best Makeup) that still remains DVD-only here in the states.
The Sea Inside is the fourth film by Alejandro Amenabar, the at least once highly acclaimed writer and director of indie cinema darlings Thesis, Open Your Eyes and The Others.  I'll be honest, admired a lot of the style and originality he brought to his work, but I also found the writing to be a little shaky.  Fortunately, The Sea Inside is based on the true story, and writings, of Ramon Sampedro (played by Javier Bardem).  So while Amenabar still wrote the screenplay, and quite well, there was a lot already established, making this a safer venture than an original work.
Sampedro, if you're not familiar, became a quadriplegic early in life, and spent decades fighting with the Spanish government for his right to die.  We see a little bit of his early life and how he fell into his situation through flashbacks, but by and large this film just examines the end of his life for him and his loved ones, particularly the ethical and moral issues his struggle raises.  It's definitely kind of a tear jerker (no scientist rushes in during the third act with a miracle cure), being both a very humanistic, empathetic experience, and also at times a rather cold, logically argued one.  Highly emotional but unsentimental.
The Sea Inside came out as a new release special edition DVD from New Line in 2005.  It was reissued by Warner Bros for their Archives collection in 2017, where they really missed their shot to put this out on BD.  Fortunately, the same mistake wasn't made overseas.  There are Japanese and German blus, but since this isn't an English-language film, there's no original English language audio track for them to preserve.  And naturally they just subtitled it into their own languages.  Only the 2015 20th Century Fox blu from Spain bothers to include English subtitles (sold separately, or as part of their 5-film Alejandro Amenabar boxed set).  Fortunately, it's a legit, properly pressed disc.
2005 US New Line DVD top; 2015 Fox BD bottom.
The color timing and everything looks the same, so we're probably looking at the same master, although you will notice the aspect ratio has changed.  We've gone from 2.40:1 to 2.35:1, which basically is just the BD slightly lifting the mattes to reveal a bit more along the top and bottom.  I do believe 2.40 is actually the correct AR, but the difference between 2.35 and 2.40 is even less than the common 1.85 to 1.78 switcharoo the major studios like to pull, so it's fine.  It's just a sliver extra picture.  The mids are also a shade brighter now on the blu.  The important thing is this is a 100% legit jump to HD, with the much sharper, clearer image picture one expects when jump to blu-ray.

New Line's DVD has the original Spanish audio in both 2.0 and 5.1, with both English and Spanish subtitles.  The BD has exactly the same options, except both audio tracks are in lossless LPCM.
One great thing about the DVD is how full it is of great extras.  It starts us off with a first rate audio commentary by Amenabar (in Spanish, but subtitled into English), but that's not even the highlight.  The crown jewel is the feature length 'making of' documentary that details every stage of production, from at home with the director and producer pre-production, on location and in the studio, to composing and editing in post.  There are also a handful of deleted scenes, several galleries of storyboards, photos, etc, and the theatrical trailer (and a couple bonus trailers).

The blu-ray has all of the same extras as the DVD, but unfortunately, none of their English subtitles.  The movie is English-friendly, but the special features aren't.  Language doesn't enter into it for the storyboards or stills galleries, but for everything else, you still need to hang onto your DVD copy if you want them translated.
So it's another one of those "build your own special edition" situations where you have to get the BD for the ideal movie presentation and the DVD for the extras.  Warners really blew it making their Archives release DVD-only.  But it's a relief to know that the opportunity to build such an edition exists, because yes, the blu-ray is all good.  You just have to import.

No comments:

Post a Comment