La Haine (1995) HD-DVD

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So many people have suggested that I should watch La Haine (1995). I even bought the SD-DVD last year and it got buried in my growing ‘to-watch’ pile of DVDs. Earlier this year Optimum announced that they would release La Haine as part of their first wave of HD-DVD releases and was one I was eager to buy. As the majority of HD releases, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD, are what I would call ‘spectacle films’ it is refreshing to see something different than the usual Hollywood fare being released. Annoyingly PowerDVD Ultra will not play Optimum/Studio Canal titles and even the updated version (7.3) of the software still suffers from this problem. The problem is fixed by using SlySoft’s AnyDVDHD software. I had to wait several months before I could get round to watching this HD-DVD but it was worth the wait.

So how was the film? Very impressive, it lived up to the hype and had a very powerful ending. The acting is excellent, especially Vincent Cassel who always impresses me in whatever film I see him in. In terms of French culture it is a film that is still resonant today and worthy of the praise heaped upon it.

The black and white VC-1 encoded transfer on the DVD is faultless, creating a sense of depth or what is commonly referred to as the HD ‘wow’ factor. The level of detail offered is incredible. The 5.1 DTSHD soundtrack is also of a high standard with some neat rear effects. One annoying gripe is the ‘anglicised’ subtitles, “Asterix” is replaced with “Snoopy” as clearly English audiences do not know who Asterix is. Despite this minor problem this is a solid presentation and I look forward to seeing future releases from Optimum. They have also released Polanski’s The Pianist (2002), not a film I am eager to rewatch but one I would like to see in HD.

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