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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Swedish PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Shall We Go to Your or My Place or Each Go Home Alone? (1973), a fifty-two-minute film by Hallström, with a video introduction by the director
  • Video interview with Hallström
  • Original theatrical trailer

My Life as a Dog

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By:
Starring: Anton Glanzelius, , Anki Liden, Melinda Kinnaman
1985 | 101 Minutes | Licensor: Svensk Filmindustri

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #178
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: September 13, 2011
Review Date: September 17, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

My Life as a Dog tells the story of Ingemar, a working-class twelve-year-old sent to live with his uncle in a country village when his mother falls ill. Once there, Ingemar finds refuge from his misfortunes and unexpected adventure with the help of the town's warmhearted eccentrics. A bittersweet evocation of the struggles and joys of childhood, this film features an incredibly mature and unaffected performance by lead actor Anton Glanzelius. The Criterion Collection is proud to present Lasse Hallström's Academy Award-nominated My Life as a Dog.

Forum members rate this film 8/10

 

Discuss the film and Blu-ray here   


PICTURE

Criterion ports their DVD edition of Lasse Hallström’s My Life as a Dog over to Blu-ray in a 1080p/24hz high-definition digital transfer on a dual-layer disc, once again presenting it in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1.

Revisiting the DVD I was surprised how well it holds up but the Blu-ray offers a substantial upgrade picture wise (admittedly I’m not sure if this is a new transfer or a redo of the same high-def one used for the DVD, though the notes suggest it’s the same one.) The biggest improvement is the lack of compression noise. The DVD is laced with it unfortunately but the Blu-ray removes that and presents a smooth, clean, more filmic look. Film grain is left intact and can look a little noisy at moments but overall it is fairly natural. The transfer also allows some of the finer details in the picture to be more prominent, even in long shots. The image is generally sharp but with a faint haze, possibly a stylistic choice, and colours are pleasing, greens and reds popping out nicely, as are blacks despite some mild crushing.

The print looks cleaner than what was on the DVD, with fewer marks and debris. In all it’s a finer presentation, more natural and film-like than the DVD, and may be worth the upgrade for those fond of the film.

7/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

Criterion’s lossless linear PCM mono track sounds a little sharper but it’s still flat as a whole, without much in the way in fidelity. But dialogue is clear and clean, and the film’s quiet score also comes off sharp, so the presentation is still adequate and suits the tone of the film.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

This has always been, inexplicably, a “high-tier” (meaning “pricier”) release from Criterion, which was always a little grating since there was very little on it in term of supplements. Unfortunately that hasn’t been remedied here at all as we still get the same supplements and still in standard-definition (technically they are presented in 1080i but they are obviously just upscaled from SD sources.)

First is the same 18-minute interview with director Lasse Hallström. Over the course of the interview he covers his early “film” carrer (i.e. Abba videos) and then the process of adapting the novel to the screen. He explains changing the more downbeat ending of the novel to the happier ending in the film and also talks a bit about his fears, namely people would find the film too sentimental, even considering not having a score at all in the film, something he obviously changed his mind on. He also covers his filmmaking techniques, working with the actors, and points out the factual elements in the film and how audiences or Swedish audiences at least could relate. To be honest Hallström is not a director I’m all that fascinated with but I found this brief interview with him insightful and entertaining.

Criterion again includes his short film Shall We Go to My Place or Your Place or Each Go Home Alone?, running 53-minutes and looking pretty much the same as what was on the DVD, with a note stating that portions of the soundtrack have been changed because of rights issues. As Hallström explains in the short interview that accompanies this the film was his attempt to sort of meld the styles of two directors who inspired him, Milos Forman and his ability to capture humour in natural, real situations, and then John Cassavetes and his free flowing style that let the actors do their thing. And he is actually somewhat successful here. It feels primarily improvisational and has plenty of charm and humour following three friends who each manage to pick up a woman and the highlights and embarrassments that follow throughout the evening. It’s a charming film and quite different from what I’m used to from Hallström. The disappointing aspect, though, is that Criterion didn’t truly upgrade the presentation here.

The disc then closes with the film’s theatrical trailer and the booklet provided includes the same two essays found in the DVD’s original insert: An essay on Hallström and the film by Michael Atkinson followed by an appreciation by novelist Kurt Vonnegut.

The supplements are fine in quality and I recommend viewing each one, but at just over an hour it feels incredibly slight.

4/10

CLOSING

For those that love the film it’s worth picking up or upgrading to the Blu-ray as the image does offer a fairly noticeable improvement. Unfortunately the supplements are still the maddening aspect of this edition, especially at the higher price.


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