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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
The Princess and the Warrior (2001)

"I wanna know if my life has gotta change and if you're the reason."
- Sissi (Franke Potente)

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: January 30, 2002

Stars: Franke Potente, Benno Furmann, Joachim Krol
Other Stars: Lars Rudolph, Melchior Beslon, Ludger Pistor, Jurgen Tarrach, Natja Brunckhorst
Director: Tom Tykwer

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing images, language, and some sexual content
Run Time: 02h:13m:10s
Release Date: January 29, 2002
UPC: 043396063907
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AAA- A

DVD Review

The Princess and the Warrior begins with the simple act of a young woman writing a brief letter to her friend and mailing it into the city. This moment differs little from a typical scene that has appeared in numerous films throughout the years. However, director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) crafts this sequence with an ingenious visual majesty that makes the brief action magical. The camera scans across the city with a controlled, frenetic form of chaos that shows that anything is possible. When the credits have concluded and the letter reaches its destination, little has taken place, but Tykwer has already grabbed our attention with swift precision. Sissi (Franka Potente of Run Lola Run) lives and works as a nurse at an insane asylum that differs from the usual type of setting depicted on screen. Instead of a repressive, tyrannical place where patients' rights are nonexistent, this facility serves as a possibly safer haven for individuals who cannot function in society. Most of them roam freely through the hallways and interact with the others to form a weird type of family atmosphere. Even given the more open rules, the asylum is still a depressing place that showcases the unfortunate mental and physical limitations of the inhabitants. Sissi basically spends her entire time at this place, and it also hinders her ability to interact freely with the outside world. She possesses hopes and dreams for love and a different life, but this movement forward would require her to leave this comfortable safehouse. Surprisingly, the eventual change in Sissi's life stems from being struck forcefully by a large truck in the middle of the street. Sprawled under the monstrosity near death, her salvation appears in the figure of a small-time criminal named Bodo (Benno Furmann). This former soldier inadvertently caused the brutal accident, but his quick thinking could save her life. Tykwer directs this tense and bloody scene with a straightforward manner and refuses to pull away from the intricacies of Bodo's attempts to save Sissi with a knife incision. The result is extremely distressing, but it also forms an inexplicable bond between them in the sharing of this highly emotional moment. While it is difficult to keep your eyes on the screen, this scene beautifully magnifies the eventual connection between the two lonely individuals. Following the encounter, Sissi only retains a button from his jacket like Cinderella's shoe. Her eventual search for Bodo and attempts to break through to him lead to remarkable revelations about their past that tie them together in more than a simple twist of fate. Although it focuses on the two leads, numerous other connections exist that add fresh complexity to the story. Bodo resides with his hulking brother Walter (Joachim Krol), a caring man who is trying to make a better life for them. This motive leads them to attempt a bank robbery from the towering structure where Walter works. Bodo also is tormented by dreams of a disastrous past failure, and his brother accepts the trouble in calming him following the nightmares. The two actors look nothing alike, but their bond is easily believable due to deft writing and exceptional performances from both individuals. Sissi is seeking a new life outside the asylum, but any movement forward will sever her long-standing ties with several patients. An especially intriguing relationship exists with Otto (Melchior Belson)a young, blind man with an apparently limited mental capacity. During a surprising moment after the accident, he aids Sissi in discovering the identity of her savior with an alarming (but effective) action. There is also an eerie relationship with the lumbering Werner (Ludger Pistor), who holds genuine affection beneath the cloud of his mental difficulties. The Princess and the Warrior is essentially a modern fairly tale with an unlikely pair forced to overcome tremendous odds to achieve happiness. Tykwer covers the urban landscape with wide-spanning aerial shots that spawn an otherworldly aspect to this generally realistic tale. Similar to the swift precision of Run Lola Run, he utilizes remarkable craftsmanship to create an energetic and original film. Ultimately, this story moves far beyond its predecessor and generates a superior overall result. While moving a bit slower, it becomes more rewarding through the subtle, touching performances from Potente and Furmann. Tykwer has crafted a convincing romance and avoided the typical pratfalls into fluffiness, which leads to one of the best films of the year.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Tom Tykwer films virtually demand the top-notch visual treatment, and this release fails to disappoint in any fashion. This 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer offers vivid colors that wonderfully render his impressive scenes in all their glory. The picture is especially memorable during the final scenes, which take place amid the vast and colorful outdoor scenery. The house on the banks of the river rests within a picturesque landscape that is difficult to forget. This transfer essentially contains no defects and provides a clear and outstanding presentation.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Germanyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Germanyes


Audio Transfer Review: The Princess and the Warrior includes both 5.1-channel Dolby Digital and 2.0-channel Dolby Surround transfers that offer plenty of lush sounds. The deliberate, emotional score especially jumps nicely from the digital track, and this helps to create the proper tone for the story. The surround speakers are utilized effectively, which leads to an extremely complex sound field. While the overall presentation falls just short of the premier transfers, it works effectively and has few shortcomings. Viewers who dislike subtitles should note the absence of a dubbed audio track on this disc. While I cannot stand to watch foreign films with dubbing, it is something to consider for that group before purchasing this disc.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Other Trailer(s) featuring Run Lola Run, Go
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
2 Feature/Episode commentaries by Director Tom Tykwer; Tykwer with Franka Potente and Benno Furmann
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: While The Princess and the Warrior is not labeled a special edition, it could easily qualify as one with several very nice extra features. The highlight is a top-notch commentary track from writer/director Tom Tykwer, who speaks throughout the film with few pauses. He provides loads of technical details and insights into his thought process while creating this picture. Everything is explained in an easily understandable manner without becoming too simplistic or dull. Instead, Tykwer has an endearing way of speaking that showcases a high interest in explaining his methods. The entire story originated with the image of Sissi and Bodo under the truck, and the eventual screenplay arose from this basic idea. I really enjoyed his discussion on several misconceptions of the audience while viewing the film, which cleared up a few hazy plot points for me. This commentary is both entertaining and informative, and it should definitely please fans of the movie.If that's not enough, this picture also includes another commentary track from Tykwer and stars Franke Potente and Benno Furmann. This is also a fun piece that resembles the type of commentary offered on the Run Lola Run disc. Both Potente and Furmann speak English well and are easily understandable. While some of the material presented here overlaps with Tykwer's track, there still are plenty of interesting points spoken here. It's always nice to have both the director and the actors' perspective on a production. The other two major supplements are an impressive 35-minute documentary and a collection of 5 deleted scenes. First of all, the documentary avoids the pratfalls of the typical fluffy behind-the-scenes pieces on many discs. Instead, it provides numerous interviews where the cast and crew discuss the characters and themes in the tale. There also are sections concerning the set design, cinematography, and casting decisions. The deleted moments are fairly brief but still are noteworthy for providing a glimpse at elements of the story that are only hinted at during the final cut. The best part of this section is a 20-minute introduction by Tykwer and editor Mathilde Bonnefoy where they discuss their concept of editing. In addition, they watch the five scenes and provide their own commentary over the shots. It's too bad that we aren't allowed to see even more of the removed scenes that flesh out many of the supporting characters.The remaining extras include several theatrical trailers, selected filmographies for Tykwer and Potente, and links to the official website. The trailers for The Princess and the Warrior and Run Lola Run have full-frame transfers, while the preview for Doug Liman's Go comes in the widescreen format.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Director Tom Tykwer burst onto the international film scene in 1999 with the release of the uncomparable Run Lola Run, which stands as one of the my favorite movies of recent years. Starring the fiery Franke Potente, this non-stop action thriller introduced audiences to the tremendous talents of this German filmmaker. The Princess and the Warrior again stars Potente in a much different story about a sheltered girl's unlikely connection with a former soldier battling his own demons. This release cements Tykwer's standing as one of the top young directors working today, and this DVD provides a superior treatment.

 


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