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In A Better World

review by Zach B.


MPAA Rating: R (For Violent and Disturbing Content Some Involving Preteens, and For Language)

Running Time: 118 Minutes

Starring: Mikael Persbrandt, Trine Dyrholm, Ulrich Thomsen, Willian Johnk Juel Nilsen, Markus Rygaard

Screenplay by: Anders Thomas Jensen
Story by: Susanne Bier Anders Thomas Jensen

Directed by: Susanne Bier



Studio: Sony

Retail Price: $45.95

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Susanne Bier and Editor Pernille Bech Christensen, Interview with Susanne Bier, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 2.35:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, Danish DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French DTS-HD 2.0, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Scene Selections (16 Scenes), Two-Disc Set

Released: August 30th, 2011


In A Better World is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer, in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Aside from slight shimmering now and then, this is an astounding transfer. The picture quality has a tremendous amount of depth, bolstered by deep blacks, accurate fleshtones and phenomenal detail. Color saturation is remarkably rich, vivid and plump — all without bleeding. The yellows and arid climate of the Sudan setting stand out the most, while the more familiar looking locations of the Denmark town have a polished realism to them. This is a sharp and vivid transfer — eye-popping, even. For a character drama, I think some of you might be surprised with what's here. 


In A Better World is presented with a Danish DTS-HD Master Audio mix in 5.1. This movie has plenty of talk, and in that respect, all the dialogue sounds crisp and sharp. The musical cues, courtesy of Johan Soderqvist, have an ominous and quiet power through the channels. There are some discrete surrounds, which also make good use of the subwoofer. Certain scenes in Sudan come to mind, as does a certain tragic act later on in the movie. This is a well-honed and balanced mix that captures the film's stark ambiance.

A French DTS-HD 2.0 mix is also on the disc, as are subtitles in English and French.


Kicking things off is an Audio Commentary with Director Susanne Bier and Editor Pernille Bech Christensen. The two are long-time collaborators and have an easy rapport, but this is can be a dry track. Bier and Christensen talk about their respective crafts and working relationship, and do offer thoughts on shaping the movie and playing with audience expectations. There are technical details, but also discussions involving the actors, story and characters. It covers quite a bit, but oly those who loved the movie should give it a listen. 

Better is the nearly-16 minute Interview with Susanne Bier. Prompted by an interviewer, Bier talks about where the idea of the film stemmed from, its heavy themes and characters. She also talks about her feelings about "message movies," work methods and collaborators (namely her writer, Anders Thomas Jensen). Bier comes off a lot more passionate here than on her commentary. As a result, this is a pretty engrossing watch. 

Seven Deleted Scenes in non-anamorphic widescreen are included. No context are provided for why these scenes were cut, but some clearly don't belong and others would have slowed down the pace of the movie. They last nearly 14 minutes when taken together.

Finally, the film's Theatrical Trailer is included, as well as a DVD copy of the film.

There was some debate over In A Better World winning the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year. Despite preferences some had for other contenders, it should be noted that In A Better World is a good, resonant film. This Blu-ray features some informative supplements, and a gorgeous presentation. If you are a foreign film fan, then this is a must see.