- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: Polish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit)
- Subtitles: English, English SDH
- Subtitles Color: White
- Region: A (Region-Locked)
- Rating: R
- Run Time: 143 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: June 12, 2012
- List Price: $35.99
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World War II and the holocaust are not only subjects that require subtlety and nuance in their treatment on the page and screen, but ones that can easily become banal at this point in the hands of lesser filmmakers. Agnieszka Holland, whose work here was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, is not one of those lesser filmmakers. In Darkness, based on real events, is a harrowing chronicle of history in which Holland, screenwriter David F. Shamoon and cinematographer Jolanta Dylewska not only effectively evoke the horror of the holocaust, but somehow manage to simultaneously create a work of timeless aesthetic beauty while never losing sight of the individuals.
Set in Nazi occupied Lvov in Poland, the film follows the Polish sewer worker Leopold Socha (Robert Wieckiewicz) who makes money on the side as a scavenger and petty thief, selling items on the black market under the noses of the Nazi occupiers. When Socha comes across a group of Jews escaped into the sewers to avoid death in the Nazi concentration camp, he endeavors to help them hide out for the remainder of the war. At first Socha’s intentions are purely for monetary reasons, pressing the escapees for all the money they have to keep them safe, but as the days press on, and due to conversions with his wife that weigh on his conscience, Socha’s aid becomes more benevolent, risking his own life for the lives of the Jews he promised to help.
In the course of the story, Holland and Shamoon, while they always keep in sight the big picture of the war and the ultimate danger the Jews and Socha himself face they never lose sight of the individual stories of humanity. A man who left his wife and children behind in the camp because of an affair he is having with one of the other escapees, a woman and her two children, a college professor that everyone else is suspect of because he refuses to speak Yiddish. It’s the small stories of passion, hopes and dreams that anchor In Darkness to reality and make it so powerful.
Not to be left without mention is the adroitly handled cinematography by Jolanta Dylewska under Holland’s direction. The film, which takes place mainly in the dank and dark subterranean world of the sewers, avoids descending into an indistinguishable amorphous world and instead takes on its on beauty, the darkness itself a metaphor the horrific events sweeping across the world above.
Sony’s transfer of In Darkness looks as gorgeous as Holland’s film deserves to look on Blu-ray. A film-like AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 presentation, the mostly dark production never lapses into noisiness and offers up a good amount of extended shadow details.There’s strong textural information with lots of high frequency information, imparting good detail in skin and clothing. Contrast is good as well considering the setting of the film.
I would have liked to hear a somewhat more lush amount of ambience in the Polish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) soundtrack considering the film is set in the sewers where there would be lots of long sound reflections. With that said, the sound designers have done a decent job with the mix and there are plenty of moments where some audible discrete effects draw the listener further into the intensity of the drama, while dialogue is clear and full with no evidence of clipping.
The two discussions offered on here are very enlightening, especially the second of the two in which the director Agneszka Holland speaks with the actual holocaust survivor whose story is told in the book the film is based on.
- An Evening with Agnieszka Holland (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:29:23)
- In Light: A Conversation with Agnieszka Holland and Krystyna Chiger (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:28:01)
- Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24; Dolby Digital 5.1)
The Definitive Word
A touching, magnificent epic that is visually and emotionally breathtaking, In Darkness may be one of the most perfect films about the holocaust ever created. This Sony Classic release comes highly recommended.
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