Written by: Michael Den Boer on August 9th, 2015
Theatrical Release Date: Argentina / Brazil , 2014
Director: Pablo Fendrik
Writer: Pablo Fendrik
Cast: Alice Braga, Gael Garcia Bernal, Claudio Tolcachir, Chico Diaz, Jorge Sesan, Lautaro Vilo, Julián Tello
BluRay released: August 10th, 2015
Approximate running times: 101 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 15 (UK)
Sound: DTS-HD 5.1 Spanish / English
BluRay Release: Arrow Films
Region Coding: Region B (UK)
Retail Price: £13.99 (UK)
Synopsis: Mercenaries are forcing farmers to sign over their property to them. And when anyone tries to standup to the mercenaries they are murdered. Afraid that his land is the next to be taken by force. A poor farmer hires a man named Kai who is well versed in survival skills and he has a vast knowledge of the surrounding rainforest. Kai’s main task is to help escort the farmer’s daughter Vania away from their land before she falls into the hands of the mercenaries. Unfortunately for them the farm is ambushed by the mercenaries the night before they are set to leave. Now in the hands of savage mercenaries, Vania’s only hope for freedom lays in the hands of a man whom she has only recently met. Will Kai be able to rescue Vania from her captors or will their cruelty eventually push her over the edge?
Where the Italian crime films were considered an extension of the western genre. The same analogy can be drawn here with The Burning, a film that is clearly inspired the western genre and in particularly the films of Sergio Leone. Whether it be the one of the film or when it comes to its characters there are no grey areas, you are either good or bad. There is no denying the western genres influence on this film.
The opening act does very good job getting the ball rolling as it firmly establishes the tone of the film. And nowhere is more evident than the moment where we are first introduced to a trio of mercenaries. It is a scene that task place earlier in the morning and the mercenaries have discovered that the woman they have been holding against her will has escaped. So two of the three set out to look for her. Only they don’t need to look too far as they camera pans over to show her mulled body. She tried to hang herself and will chocking to death she is the apparent victim of a lion mulling. Another standout moment like this includes the scene where the mercenaries show up in the middle of the night and kill everyone expect Kai and take Vania hostage. Unfortunately when it comes to moments like these, they are far and few in-between in this film.
As mentioned there are some gory moments in this film and a few well executed action set pieces. Most notably the film’s finale which has Sergio Leone’s influence written all over it. Fortunately this film finds good balance when it comes to dramatic moments and action oriented moments. In fact when it comes to the more dramatic moments these are where the film excels the most. Also though the film does interject a healthy does of subtext in the events which unfold. It is ultimately the man verse nature angle that leaves the strongest lasting impression.
And when it comes to the cast one would be hard pressed to find any faults, in any of their performances. Obviously there are two performances that most viewers are going to be draw too and they are Gael García Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También, The Motorcycle Diaries) in the role of Kai, an enigmatic who lets his actions do the majority of his talking and Alice Braga (City of God) in the role of Vania. She takes what in countless other movies would be a throw away character and the end result is truly remarkable performance that is without a doubt this film greatest asset.
The Burning comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. Colors and flesh tones look accurate, contrast and black levels look very good and details look crisp. There are no issues with compression and DNR is kept in check.
This release comes with one audio option, a DTS-HD mix in Spanish / English and removable English subtitles have been included with this release. The audio sounds clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too. Also when it comes to the more ambient aspects of the soundtrack they are well represented throughout this audio mix.
Topics discussed in the ‘Making of’ featurette include, what made them want to be participate in this film, the screenplay and it’s lengthy evolution to what ended up onscreen, the cats discuss the characters they portray, working with Pablo Fendrik, shooting on location in the jungle and their thoughts on the final product.
Rounding out the extras are trailers for Human Capitol and Stations of the Cross. Overall The Burning gets a first rate release from Arrow Films.
Note: Arrow Films are also releasing this film on DVD.