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.