The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Sony Pictures Classics- 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 155 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85.1
Audio Format(s): French/German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Turkish
Starring: Tahar Rahim, Niels Arestrup, Adel Bencherif
Directed by: Jacques Audiard
Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Written by: Jacques Audiard & Thomas Bidegain
Region Code: A,B
Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 03, 2010
"How do you do it? What are you? A prophet or what?""
Condemned to six years in prison, Malik El Djebena cannot read not write. Arriving at the jail entirely alone, he appears younger and more fragile than the other convicts. He is 19 years old. Cornered by the leader of the Corsican gang who rules the prison, he is given a number of “missions” to carry out, toughening him up and gaining the gang leader's confidence in the process. But Malik is brave and a fast learner, daring to secretly develop his own plans.
'A Prophet', or in its native tongue, Un Prophète, is why I love movies. There are a handful of movies that I consider 'perfect', where the choice of actors, the cinematography, direction, story and score all just align in a way that sucks me in and doesn't let go. 'A Prophet' took my mind away from reality for two and a half hours, that rarely happens. Don't get me wrong, this is not a happy go lucky film, it's far from fun or pleasant. It's brutal, at times graphic, and is gritty and real. Taking place in Prison, it better be all that for it to feel authentic.
'A Prophet' is a chronicling of the rise of a new crime lord. When 19 year old Malik El Djebena (Tahar Rahim), an Arab, is convicted of a crime he swears he didn't commit, he is given six years of hard times in a French prison. When he first arrives he keeps to himself, wisely playing it as safe as can be. After refusing advances in the shower by a new inmate named Reyeb, Malik is forced into a deal with the Corsican mafia. Led by César Luciani (Niels Arestrup), the Corsican mafia rule the prison from the inside out. The tell him since he has an 'in' with Reyeb, kill him and receive protection for his remaining years or be killed for refusing. Malik, who is obviously not a killer, has a moral issue with what's at stake, and tries to rat the Corsicans out. He realizes they truly do have eyes and ears everywhere. After some deep soul searching, he chooses to kill Reyeb, even though you can see the doubt and hesitation in his body language, almost backing out at the last moment. This is a powerful scene, where we witness Malik's transformation, where he realizes anything is possible and that he is capable of doing whatever it takes to survive. From this moment, Malik stumbles upon the opportunity to play the game, between being an Arab yet working for the Corsicans, he can make moves and walk with many sides of the underworld in and outside of jail. Once he realizes and utilizes his covert bit of power, Malik makes the right moves to move up in the world of crime, slowly building a name and following for himself. As he does the rest of his sentence, Malik is visited by visions of the dead Reyeb (in what humorously reminded me of dead Jack visiting David in American Werewolf in London). These visions are what drives him and reminds him of the turning point in him life.
Like I said, this is by no means a fun film. If you can swallow such tough and graphic content you will be rewarded with a film that has a deeper sense of self then most of its contemporaries. The cinematography is impeccable, as is the acting, story and direction. My only issue was not getting my fill of Malik's back-story; did he do the crime he was committed for?? Well one more issue is the ending, I wanted more! The movie is in French with subtitles, which is a testament to the film, it was so good that added no difficulty for me to get completely sucked in. There is a reason why it won the Grand Prix at Cannes, and it was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign film. I cant recommend this enough.
Rated R for strong violence, sexual content, nudity, language and drug material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
'A Prophet' comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 24.2 Mbps and DTS-HD MA 5.1 sound that has an average bitrate of 4 Mbps.
'A Prophet' is a stunning Blu-ray release from Sony. The Image is crisp, with details popping out everywhere. Facial features, concrete on the cell walls, all completely discernible. The 35mm print has a think layer of grain, that blends in very well with the look and feel of the film, only enhancing the clarity of its definition. Colors are filmed very natural, looking dull and drab, as I assume inside a prison should. When we venture out to the world things become more alive and more colorful. The shadow details and black levels could not get any better. This is a reference transfer and as good as it gets, besides a perfect computer generated animation transfer or a digitally filmed HD movie.
The DTS-HD MA soundtrack fairs quite well. From what I could tell, dialogue, though in French, seemed to be the priority here. Heavy and focused on the front sound-stage, 'A Prophet' excelled in the limited moments when was called upon to flex its dynamics. A thick smooth bass response was present in its soundtrack, and in the rare moments of gunfire. The effect channels were used exactly as they should...not over-kill and not used just because they are there. Prison banter and atmospherics filled the room just enough to accentuate the films ability to drag the viewer in. Though this is not a demo piece, I couldn't see it handling what is was asked to do any better.
- Audio Commentary with Director Jacques Audiard, Actor Tahar Rahim, and Co-Writer Thomas Bidegain
- Deleted Scenes
- Screen Tests
- Rehearsal Footage
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer
- (HD) Trailers- Micmacs, The Secret in Their Eyes, Get Low, The White Ribbon, Please Give, Mother and Child, The Last Station, and Cemetery Junction.
- BD LIVE enadled
If you couldn't tell by now, I loved 'A Prophet' and am glad to add it to my collection. I will watch it again, as it is so richly textured it calls out for a repeat viewing. Sony's blu-ray release is a technical stunner with reference quality video that is awe inspiring. The only negative to the release is that it is not heavy on the special features, and for those into commentary tracks, be aware that it is subtitled as well. If you were ever inclined to go out on a whim for a blind purchase, and this type of film is your cup o' tea, I say go for it.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS35 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC27 Receiver (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Pioneer Elite BDP-23FD Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer