DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Francis Ford Coppola
Tim Roth, Alexandra Maria Lara, Bruno Ganz, André Hennicke, Marcel Iures, Adrian Pintea, Florin Piersic Jr., Zoltan Butuc, Adriana Titieni
Writing Credits:
Francis Ford Coppola, Mircea Eliade (novella)

In the years before World War II, Dominic Matei (Tim Roth) is a professor who finds he is able to live his life all over again. Pursued by the Nazis for his secret, Matei searches for shelter all over Europe.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$28.550 thousand on 6 screens.
Domestic Gross
$239.435 thousand.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 125 min.
Price: $29.95
Release Date: 5/13/08

• Audio Commentary with Director Francis Ford Coppola
• “The Making of Youth Without Youth” Featurette
• “The Music for Youth Without Youth” Featurette
• “Youth Without Youth: The Makeup” Featurette
• End Credits
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Youth Without Youth (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 30, 2008)

So Francis Ford Coppola directs his first movie in a decade, and what happens? The flick never appears on more than a handful of screens and earns a virtually non-existent $239,495. Why did it receive such a fate? I have no idea. While not a broad crowd-pleaser, I’d think the Coppola name would be enough to grant 2007’s Youth Without Youth a broader release.

Perhaps it’ll find a bigger audience on DVD. Set in Romania prior to the start of war with Nazi Germany, we meet elderly linguistics professor Dominic Matei (Tim Roth). He pines after a departed lover and frets that he lacks the time to complete what he considers to be his life’s work. As he crosses the street on Easter Sunday, lightning strikes him and leaves him horribly burned.

After a stint in the hospital, he emerges a new man – almost literally. He comes out of his crispy state with the appearance of a 40-year-old dude, a generally rejuvenated spirit and increased mental abilities. Dominic decides to take advantage of his new lease on life and adopt a new identity. His doctor (Bruno Ganz) assists with this endeavor, though not all goes smoothly. Dominic’s case attracts the attention of the Nazis, and they want to take control of him for their own schemes. Youth follows Dominic’s attempts to utilize his new powers and also to stay out of the hands of various authorities.

I think pretty much everyone – at least those of us out of our youths – fantasize about being able to go back and relive their earlier lives. It’s the whole “if I knew then what I know now” concept; how cool would it be to re-experience our younger days with the knowledge gained over the extra years?

Youth attempts a version of that notion, though not quite as literal as most of our fantasies. Most folks envision literally replaying their earlier years with the increased knowledge of their later lives, whereas Youth doesn’t allow Dominic to go back in time.

And it also doesn’t take the Freaky Friday approach to the subject. Not that there’s anything wrong with a lighter touch when it comes to this topic, as flicks like that are fun explorations of the “old brain in young body” concept. As one would expect from a director like Coppola, Youth takes a deeper, more philosophical view of the issues. He’s not really a popcorn flick kind of director, so we wouldn’t anticipate something played strictly for pulp fun.

But Coppola has enough of a commercial side to ensure that Youth doesn’t degenerate into a self-absorbed piece of pseudo-intellectual nonsense. While he offers a fairly artistic take on the subject – with his emphasis on dream-like visuals – this never becomes a strict “art film” take on the topic. The flick meanders at times but Coppola manages to create a reasonable narrative and not become a purely cinematic experiment.

I will acknowledge that Coppola doesn’t always join the two sides terribly well. They balance in a somewhat awkward manner at times and don’t always co-exist in a smooth way. Still, Coppola uses the two methods well enough to keep one from dominating. I like that since it gives the fantasy more of an edge, while the artsy stuff gets a good grounding in story.

And Coppola does manage to keep us off-guard as the movie progresses. Youth never follows a predictable path as it goes through the years, and it stays interesting. Youth doesn’t merit consideration as one of Coppola’s great films alongside the Godfather flicks or Apocalypse Now, but it shows that the director still knows how to make an intriguing piece of work.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Youth Without Youth appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The disc brought the film to life with a strong transfer.

Sharpness always looked quite good. At no time did I discern any issues with softness, as the flick showed nice definition and delineation. Jagged edges and shimmering failed to appear, and edge haloes also presented no distractions. The clean image lacked source flaws as well.

Much of Youth went with stylized colors. Amber tones dominated, though we also got some heavy blues, and flashbacks became desaturated. The movie replicated these hues well, as they seemed warm and rich. Blacks appeared dark and dense, and shadows were smooth and clear. I thought the flick looked great.

Though I didn’t expect a whole lot from the flick’s Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, it proved to be pretty impressive. The soundfield provided a lot of information to draw us into the fantastic story, and they created a fine soundfield. The movie’s more dreamlike elements benefited most from this, as they used all five channels in an active manner and formed an involving setting. Music showed solid stereo imaging, and the whole package wrapped around us in a good way.

Audio quality always satisfied. Speech was natural and concise, without edginess or other issues. Music sounded lush and lively, and effects followed suit. Those elements appeared accurate and dynamic, and the flick boasted very nice bass response. All in all, I felt pleased with this satisfying track.

When we head to the disc’s extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Francis Ford Coppola. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the adaptation of the source work, story issues and philosophical underpinnings, some aspects of the historical elements, cast and performances, and a few cinematic choices.

If you hope for lots of insight into Coppola’s work as a filmmaker, you’ll not find much here. For the majority of the track, Coppola provides little more than an annotated discussion of the story. He chats about what we see onscreen and expands subjects in terms of a little interpretation, but we don’t discover a lot of useful insight. Insight, Coppola essentially just describes the film, and this turns into a pretty dull commentary.

Next we find three featurettes. The Making of Youth Without Youth runs eight minutes, 41 seconds as it mixes shots from the set, movie clips, and interviews. We hear from Coppola and actors Tim Roth, Bruno Ganz, Alexandra Maria Lara, and Matt Damon. The program looks at story, characters and cast, shooting in Romania, and a few production elements. At less than nine minutes in length, it can’t cover much, so it stays superficial. It acts as little more than a promo piece.

The Music for Youth Without Youth lasts 26 minutes, 49 seconds and features Coppola, film editor/sound designer Walter Murch, composer Osvaldo Golijov, executive producer Anahid Nazarian, and sound designer Pete Horner. The piece looks at aspects of the music and sound for the film. We find more shots of the orchestra than I’d like – I think those become dull – but we learn enough about the score and its creation to compensate.

For the final featurette, we locate the 18-minute and two-second Youth Without Youth: The Makeup. It provides notes from Roth, Lara, and make-up designers Jeremy Woodhead and Peter King. They cover the various make-up challenges in the film. This becomes a pretty tight and informative discussion.

Since the movie comes with no End Credits, that reel shows up in the extras. It fills four minutes, four seconds and shows exactly the text you’d expect.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for Blu-Ray Disc and Persepolis. The also appear in the Previews area along with promos for Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains, The Live of Others, Steep, Black Book, Sleuth, The Counterfeiters, The Band’s Visit, Redbelt and Bram Stoker’s Dracula. No trailer for Youth pops up here.

After a decade away from cinemas, Francis Ford Coppola returns with 2007’s Youth Without Youth, a reasonably successful dramatic fantasy. The film embraces its flights of fancy but keeps them grounded well enough to involve the viewer. The DVD presents excellent picture, very good audio and some decent extras. The movie is a little too “out there” to gain a mass audience, but I think it works.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main