The Gatekeepers (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 2 Old 07-06-2013, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Sony Classic Pictures - 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 101 minutes
Genre: Documentary

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): Hebrew DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Directed by: Dror Moreh
Music by: Ab Ovo
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 9, 2013

"Defender that shall not be seen"

Film Synopsis:

Charged with overseeing Israel’s war on terror-both Palestinian and Jewish- the head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s Secret Service is present at the crossroads of every decision made. For the first time ever six former heads of the agency agreed to share their insights and reflect publicly on their actions and decisions. The Gatekeepers offers an exclusive account of the sum of their successes and failures. It validates the reasons that each man individually and the six as a group came to reconsider their hard-line positions and advocate a conciliatory approach toward their enemies based on a two-state solution.

My Take:

The war on terror has been fought in Israel for decades. This documentary is presented in candid form and offers a direct from the horse’s mouth accounting of the thought processes, motivations and decisions made by six men who headed the agency responsible for safeguarding the country from those seeking to do harm.

The Shin Bet is Israel's internal security service. Its duties are safeguarding state security, exposing terrorist rings, interrogating terror suspects, providing intelligence for counter-terrorism operations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, counter-espionage, personal protection of senior public officials, securing important infrastructure and government buildings, and safeguarding Israeli airlines and overseas embassies.

Beginning with the events surrounding the Six Day War, this film moves forward from then to present recounting the various incident/circumstances both good and bad as told by Ami Ayalon, Avi Dichter, Yuval Diskin, Carmi Gillion, Yaakov Peri, Avraham Shalom, “The Gatekeepers”. The film combines in-depth interviews with archival footage and computer animation to recount the role that each man played specific to the period he commanded the Shin Bet.

The Gatekeepers is a compelling, insightful and sobering film that offers candid remarks, graphic visuals and thought provoking details from those that walked lines that at times were razor thin. Some describing cautionary tales of gray areas, moral questions and iron fisted leadership. Others describe the frustration of missed opportunities, scandal, and the devastating results of failure. I found it incredibly interesting to hear from men who were obviously used to safeguarding secrets and operating from covert angles as they exposed about leadership, political challenges and struggling to protect their homeland.

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature The Gatekeepers presents a compulsory overview of a modern intelligence agency as told by those tasked with sitting at the head of its table. It’s the kind of film that makes an impression and quite often results in excellent coffee table discussion.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for thematic material and graphic images.

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.**

Audio: 84

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373699

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

The Gatekeepers comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 27 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.

This filmed documentary is a mix of interviews, still photos and vintage footage. The new interviews/footage appears lucid, with crisp definition, muted/cooler color, stable contrast and punchy blacks. The lower resolution elements are softer while occasionally exhibiting minor artifacts that don’t rise to problematic levels. I had no real complaints with the video quality and on a whole thought that this presentation looked quite good.

The high resolution DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack has excellent dynamic range and refining detail. Dialogue is articulately reproduced through the center channel and maintains a position of prominence within the front soundstage. This isn’t an active surround mix but when applied the surround channels generate plenty of atmosphere. Front and rear channel imaging is quite good as sounds and spatial cues, such as though used for effect during the computer generated sequences, mate perfectly with the events transpiring onscreen. I found this to be a satisfying and complimentary audio presentation.

Bonus Features:

  • Director audio commentary

  • (HD) Q&A with director Dror Moreh – 42 minutes

Final Thoughts:

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature The Gatekeepers presents a compulsory overview of a modern intelligence agency as told by those tasked with sitting at the head of its table. It is a compelling, insightful and sobering film that offers candid remarks, graphic visuals and thought provoking details that will leave you thinking about it afterward. It comes to Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition audio/video and limited but worthwhile supplemental material that offer insights from director/producer Dror Moreh. If you typically find the subject matter interesting toss The Gatekeepers in your rental queue.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Ralph C. Potts
Blu-ray Reviewer
My Home Theater
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post #2 of 2 Old 08-22-2013, 03:09 PM
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Ralph, thanks for the review.

I got my freebie DVD from the library and really enjoyed the former heads of Shin Bet was able to illuminate their thoughts on the Palestinian situation from a non-politician's views. Give kudos to the director for his ability to elicit the information. Not sure if this film gets an Oscar but he should get one.

Several of the comments were insightful:
1. They all realized that it was easy to win the war but impossible to guard such a huge population. Now Israel becomes the "colonial empire".
2. The establishment of a Palestinian country is necessary to minimize bloodshed on Israel; something they realized way ahead of the politicians.
3. Never trust a politician. They'll fabricate to save their own political future, using the Shin Bet as scapegoats.
4. Politicians see things in binary while the Shin Bet heads see things in grey, a much tougher job when it comes to implementation.

I also watched The Fog of War on Robert McNamara, an equally excellent documentary from mid-2000. If our politicians had listen to his 11 principles or lessons learned, we would not have been at war in Asia.

Lessons learned became lessons forgotten.

Both are must watch if you are a history buff.
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