The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Anchor Bay Films - 2010
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 108 minutes
Genre: Drama, Crime
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Freida Pinto, Hiam Abbass and Willem Dafoe
Directed by: Julian Schnabel
Music by: Julian Schnabel
Written by: Rula Jebreal
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 12, 2011
"Is this the face of a terrorist?"
Miral is the story of a Palestinian girl coming of age amidst the war zone of the Israeli-Arab conflict — unflinchingly told through the perspective of Miral herself. Following the death of her troubled mother, Miral’s father is forced to entrust her to the orphanage of Hind Husseini, a woman whose commitment to peace through education has a profound impact on the maturing young woman as her epic journey to self-esteem and social consciousness proves both harrowing and hopeful.
The above synopsis is a perfect description of 'Miral'. Though not the strongest film I have seen lately, I found it to be captivating for a few reasons. The direction from Academy Award Nominated director Julian Schnabel (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) was stunning, with amazing shots, great camera tracking and a gorgeous eye for color and composition. This stems from his artist background as he seems to film his shots like they were on canvas. He also knows how to build a scene-- There is a scene in the film where a terrorist leaves a bomb in a movie theater. The tension builds as we see the audience members faces as they watch Roman Polanski's "Repulsion". It was powerful. The casting was perfection as they are all believable, and project a realism to their rolls. 'Miral' is played by Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), and Hind Husseini, the owner of the orphanage where 'Miral' learns much about life, is played by Hiam Abbass (The Visitor). It also has a great supporting cast of Willem Dafoe and Vanessa Redgrave.
'Miral' has the ability to polarize the audience by its one sided look at the Arab-Israeli conflict. I didn't perceive this as prejudice, just a point of view from the Palestinian characters in which this story is about. To make the viewer more secure is the fact that the film's director Julian Schnabel is an American Jew. Putting politics aside, 'Miral' is an interesting story that is a glimpse at a people we don't usually get a deeper look at, and when all is said and done this is a coming of age and self-discovery story set in a land full of conflict. It is also about the importance of teaching peace to the children, especially in a land so full of the opposite. The film does take a while to finally introduce us to its lead. That is when I realized it was not solely about the titular character, but was half about Hind Husseini as well. Unfortunatly, this is where the film fails. Husseini has her beliefs, her orphanage and was a great way for us to meet 'Miral', but for the amount of time spent with her, we are left wanting more; especially of her blossoming love affair with William Defoe's character. 'Miral's' arch was more challenging and I wish had more focus on it. She is learning about the world she was born into and soul searching for her place and own opinions. Thankfully Julian Schnabel kept the pace alive and made a beautiful film to look at. I enjoyed 'Miral's' but think its a tough film for most to get mileage out of.-- On a side note I found the tagline "Is this the face of a terrorist?", to be a terrible bit of marketing. That is not what the film is about, and its a shame to go in expecting her to be blowing things up.
** 'Miral's' theatrical release was rated R and was 114 minutes.
Rated PG-13 for some violent content including a sexual assault.
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:
Anchor Bay delivers a a stunning transfer with its release of 'Miral'. Blacks levels were inky and shadow details remained intact with no visible crush. Fine details were obvious all over the film, from facial features to pores on stone walls. This is a reference release that has many moods. From blue to yellow hues, to a over contrasty, Director Julian Schnabel used different looks and feels to create mood in the film. There were times where the grain would spike, but this was per mood, and done quite tastefully. There were times where the film had a depth to the image which is what you can get when all things line up well in a Blu-ray release. I saw no signs of compression or tinkering, which seems to be the norm with Anchor Bay releases.
The Dolby-HD MA 5.1 audio track was quite refined and mature. It is nothing to show your system off with, but it handles what its asked to quite well. Dialouge is its main focus, Hebrew, Arabic and English are all spoken, and all seem well articulated. The effects channels are used with class, with a realistic amount of ambiance. Bass extension is better than I anticipated, really pushing the films other important element, its score, to the forefront. The music is used well by Schnabel, really setting the intended mood.
** 'Miral's' subtitles fall in the frame of its 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
- AudioCommentary With Director Julian Schnabel And Producer Jon Kilik
- (HD) Deleted Scenes
- (HD) The Making Of Miral
- (HD) Julian Schnabel Studio Tour
- (HD) Filmmaker Q&A
'Miral' was shunned by critics and given a bad rap due to its supposed pro-Palestinian slant. I didn't see a slant either way, as this is not a film about the conflict but about its effects on the children. Anchor Bay's transfer lets Julian Schnabel's beautiful film-making shine on Blu-ray, garnering a reference grade. I enjoyed 'Miral's', flaws and all, but think its a tough film for most to get mileage out of. A rental recommendation to those whose curiosity as piqued.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-X3 3D 1080p 3D High Definition Front Projector
Screen Innovations Solar HD 1.3 120" 2.40:1 CinemaScope Screen
Marantz AV7005 Pre/Pro
Sunfire Cinema Grand 5 200 Amplifier
Sony PS3 Slim Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sunfire Cinema Ribbon Trio On-Wall (5.1)
Sunfire True Subwoofer EQ Solitaire 10"