Babel, Blu-ray (2006-07)

by | Apr 11, 2007 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Babel, Blu-ray (2006-07)

Starring:  Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Gael García Bernal,
Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Studio: Paramount 34598
Video: Enhanced for 16:9 widescreen, color
Audio: DD 5.1, DD 2.0 surround, French DD 5.1
Subtitles: English DSH, English, Spanish
Extras: Theatrical trailer
Length: 143 minutes
Rating: *****

We reviewed the standard DVD of this very emotionally-moving film back in February. So I’ll confine my remarks to the enhancements offered by the Blu-ray version. I still think it is a shame there are no extras at all except for the trailer, since there is seven times the data capacity on a Bu-ray vs. a standard DVD, and even just one featurette on the background of shooting in the various countries where the different stories take place would provide another whole dimension for appreciation of this masterful film. Probably will have to wait around for the next reissue of Babel to have that.

This is a feature which benefits greatly from the hi-def imaging. Not because of special effects, because there are none really, but for telling small details in the environment in the scenes shot in Morocco, Mexico and Tokyo. Every animal in the herd of goats on the hillside in Morocco is clearly visible in the long shots and details in the interiors of the buildings are now visible that were lost in the shadows on the standard DVD.  Some of the widescreen images are so beautifully composed that one is moved to press the “still” button on the remote (if you have one) and doing so provides some gorgeous images. What a contrast to what we used to get when pressing “still” on a VCR! 

Although the 5.1 sound is not the uncompressed variety, it must be delivered at a higher sampling rate than the Dolby Digital on standard DVDs, because the nature sounds – such as the wind and bells on the goats – are more real and more spatial sounding.  Since subtitles are required for many of the scenes, I found myself paying more attention to the soundtrack – especially the varied ethnic music on it.

 – John Sunier

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