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Kino on Video presents
Zero Kelvin (1995)

"I'll never be like you, Randbaek. I believe in love."
- Henrik Larsen (Gard B. Eidsvold)

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: March 28, 2001

Stars: Stellan Skarsgard, Gard B. Eidsvold
Other Stars: Bjorn Sundquist, Camilla Martens
Director: Hans Petter Moland

Manufacturer: L&M
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (includes violence and nudity)
Run Time: 01h:54m:35s
Release Date: April 24, 2001
UPC: 738329021023
Genre: adventure

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B B+BB- D-

DVD Review

The opening sequence of Zero Kelvin scrolls across a bleak, vast Norwegian wilderness that is virtually inhospitable for men and most beasts. This white, magnificent landscape exudes tremendous beauty, but it also represents death for those foolish enough to fight its dominance. What happens to a civilized human being when he spends enough time is this environment? In this tightly constructed character study, director Hans Petter Moland explores the effect of this land on the fragile human psyche.

Henrik Larsen (Gard B. Eidsvold) is a struggling writer who longs for an extreme adventure to inspire his intellectual energy. His manner is fairly meek and happy-go-lucky, and he appears poorly suited for this type of climate. On the opposite spectrum is Randbˆæk (Stellan Skarsgard) - a dirty, unshaven brute who curses often and grumbles about his poor state in life. These two unlikely companions join scientist Jakob Holm (Bjˆ½rn Sundquist) in a small cabin on a fur-trapping expedition. Their conflicts reveal the sad effects of the harsh environment (and other humans) on the emotional states of these interesting characters.

While Henrik is the protagonist of the story, the most intriguing person is the demented Randbˆæk - a vicious monster who treats others like nothing. On the surface, no humanity exists within this man, but this lack of caring stems from the guilt-inducing demons of his past. A virtually unrecognizable Stellan Skarsgard creates a compelling three-dimensional character who cares little for the rules of civilization. His words towards Henrik are vicious, but they also contain degrees of truth that he can't deny. Over the past few years, Skarsgard has shown an ability to play an amazing variety of character types, including Good Will Hunting's frustrated math teacher, Timecode's alcoholic movie producer, Ronin's double-crossing mercenary, and Amistad's compassionate abolitionist. Randbˆæk is one of his best performances due to the difficulty in generating any sympathy for his actions.

On the surface, Zero Kelvin is an adventure film about men struggling to survive in the wild, but in actuality it focuses more on ideas than action. The main conflicts often arise over discussions about the nature of love and women in general. Their opposing views immediately place Henrik and Randbˆæk against one another early in the story. The environment serves as the catalyst in bringing their views to the forefront. Within the uncaring weather and cold land, no walls exist to hide their feelings. Within the small cabin, their differing personalities will clash with virtually no middle ground between them.

A majority of the film takes place within a single room, and this confined place limits Moland's direction. This also slows the pace several times, and repetition and monotony starts to creep into the story. However, it's this same spatial limitation that allows for the intimate study of each of the characters. American audiences expecting a Norwegian version of The Edge or Vertical Limit will obviously not enjoy the intricacies of this movie. Viewers looking for more intellectual fare should enjoy this adventure, which creates disturbing drama within a fairly simple structure.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The vast, white landscape of snow and ice looks impressive on this decent 1.66:1 nonanamorphic widescreen transfer. The characters remain in clear focus against the harsh wilderness, and the colors are bright and well defined. Similar to other Kino releases, however, the print contains a significant amount of defects and looks grainy in darker scenes. These blemishes show up intermittently throughout the film, but never distract too much from the overall picture. While falling far short of perfection, this transfer does have its moments, especially during the scenes shot outdoors in the Norwegian wild.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Norwegianno

Audio Transfer Review: This 2.0-channel Dolby Surround transfer remains in the background due to the predominance of dialogue. A majority of the running time involves conversations between the three main characters, and this limits the scope of the audio track. The dialogue comes across understandably, but it lacks the extra level of clarity inherent in Dolby Digital or DTS transfers. The tense scenes outside do provide more use of sounds, but little power exists in this track. When the foreboding sounds of ice cracking rumbles through the speakers, it lacks the force necessary to carry the scene to the next level.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Packaging: other
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: This film-only release from Kino contains dull, basic menus and even lacks the usual theatrical trailer. The subtitles are located within the frame, but their white color often makes them nearly unreadable against the white, snowy background. While it's difficult to expect much in terms of extras from this release, the basic trailer and cast information would have been a nice addition.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Zero Kelvin moves at a deliberate pace that slowly draws you into the minds of its characters. While its style may not appeal to everyone, those willing to stick it out will enjoy an interesting study of the human psyche. Backed by an exceptional performance by Stellan Skarsgard, this film provides adventure while straying from the typical action formula.


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