THE BARBER OF SIBERIA dvd review

Russia Region-free NTSC DVD

Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1

Russian/English DD 5.1

Subtitles: English, Russian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Swedish, Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Dutch

IMDB

 

MOVIE: 9.5

VIDEO QUALITY: 8

AUDIO QUALITY: 9

ENGLISH SUBTITLES: 10

EXTRAS: 5

 

There are other summaries and reviews online if you want to know what happens throughout this film, but I don’t want to ruin it for you. Watch the trailer and you’ll know what to expect. I will say though, that since its release in 1998, The Barber of Siberia is still one of the best contemporary and satisfying epic Russian films I’ve seen. Nikita Mikhalkov, my favorite Russian director, has been considered to be very nationalistic, but I consider him one of Russia’s most accessible directors in which his movies are satisfying for everyone around the world – sort of like the Steven Spielberg of Russia. If Mikhalkov had submitted this film to the Best Foreign Film submission, it would have probably won. He didn’t submit it because he’s got issues with Hollywood (remember, he’s very nationalistic). But that doesn’t stop him from using talented Hollywood actors. For fans of Julia Ormond, this is her film –  her “Gone with the Wind” role. It’s sad that a lot of her fans haven’t seen this film because The Barber of Siberia is her best film. The great late Richard Harris also stars in this film, one of his last great roles. The movie is also full of talented famous Russian actors who get to show off their talent because, in Russia, movie directors rarely get to show off their good actors because the Russian movie industry is still pretty poor. The best Russian actors tend to stick with where their talents are respected – on mafia/criminal/cop tv shows and theater.

The Barber of Siberia has been released on sketchy DVDs over the years. It’s been on a French DVD with forced French subtitles, I think there have been some letterboxed or full-screen Hong Kong or Korean versions. There’s also a UK DVD but I have no idea if it’s anamorphic or not. Fortunately, Russia’s “Criterion-type” DVD company RUSCICO released an NTSC Region-free DVD of this film with anamorphic widescreen video and DD 5.1 Russian/English (much of the movie has English dialogue too). The video quality is generally clear and sharp through out. Colors are soft and muted yet they still stand out, especially with all the changing seasons in this film. It’s an old DVD so don’t expect it to be amazing looking, but it’s a totally pleasing presentation. The DD 5.1 Russian/English is a wonderful active mix – the movie has plenty of scenes which make the audio stand out – from sword-fighting, to trains, to machinery, and to music. Dialogue is clear as well. This audio soundtrack totally compliments the picture quality. The extras, such as an interview with the director and trailers, are not subtitled. The English subtitles on the film are perfect. Please note that there are two RUSCICO dvd versions of this film. One is an English-subtitled version (this one) and the other one does not have English subtitles (and I think the other one may be the PAL version).

If you like sweeping epic-style David Lean/Steven Spielberg films, you’ll love The Barber of Siberia, a perfect combination of drama, humor, romance, and action. It’s too bad this film hasn’t been released on blu-ray yet because this moving masterpiece was created for blu-ray.

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1 Comment

  1. To me a GREAT ! GREAT ! movie. I visit Moscow special to see the filmlocalions. 50 times- or more- I have seen this wonderful Nikita Mikhalkov movie and like it more and more. Wim ,from the Netherlands.


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