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The Forgiveness of Blood [Criterion Collection] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Albanian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, PCM 2.0
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 16, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]


Director Joshua Marston first came to our attention with Maria Full of Grace, his Oscar-nominated film about a young Colombian woman working as a drug mule. This 2011 release, The Forgiveness of Blood is set in rural Albania, a country that is largely unfamiliar to most viewers. It is important to understand that the blood feud in this film must be resolved according to the principles of Kanun or traditional Albanian law grounded in kin loyalty and besa (word of honor). The story of feuding families revolves around a dispute over access to land.  While we do not see the events that resulted in murder, ultimately, that does not matter. Director Marston eschewing graphic obvious violence weaves a tale that takes us back to the beginning of time, family, and property.  The cast is brilliant and completely natural in their roles in this family drama. Perhaps, a contemporary audience cannot identify with 21st century folks who are internet- and cell phone-savvy but still rely on horse-drawn carriages. No matter, we get a real life take on what unites and divides us as human beings.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

From the perspective of reality video, there is a certain amount of blur in an otherwise pretty crisp presentation. That notwithstanding, we get a good dose of what subsistence living really looks like. The up close and personal cinematography is darn good and keeps the drama going. One gets the sense of reality television with high stakes, the trademark of Marston films.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Dialogue for those fluent in Albanian, include me out, is extremely clear. Fortunately, we are given serviceable subtitles. For all practical purposes, there is little soundtrack musical relief for the frequently grim proceedings. No matter, this is very effective reality movie making. The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is marginally better than its two-channel counterpart.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3.5/5]

As expected with Criterion Collection reissues, we get some good extras:

  • Audio Commentary by director/co-writer Marston
    • Acting Close to Home: Marston in discussion with actors Refet Abazi (Mark), Tristan Halilaj (Nik), and Sindi Lacej (Rudina)
    • Truth on the Ground: on-set interviews with producer Paul Mezey, Abazi, Halilaj, and Lacej.
    • Audition and rehearsal footage
    • Trailer

A booklet is provided that contains a well-written and explanatory essay by film critic Oscar Moralde.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

It is hard to watch a family’s struggle against social forces beyond their control. It will also be hard for modern-day viewers to understand the basis for blood feuds and their resolution. What will stay with most of us, long after the last scene when Nik leaves home forever to protect his life from his hostile neighbors, is the incredible strength of the young people in this film. Rudina is a genuine tough cookie whether selling black market cigarettes or bargaining with the sale of the family horse. The Forgiveness of Blood is never easy-going and its subject matter will make a number of viewers quite uncomfortable. In the end, this film’s power should put coming-of-age fans on notice: it is the real deal and well worthy of the Criterion Collection label.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase The Forgiveness of Blood on Blu-ray at CD Universe

The Forgiveness of Blood

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B008MPQ0WM[/amazon-product]

Purchase The Forgiveness of Blood on Blu-ray at CD Universe

The Forgiveness of Blood

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3.5/5]


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