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PHOTOGRAPHY

DVD Review: THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE Special Edition

by David Blackwell

THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE is a complex gothic story set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil war. The story centers around an isolated school that home to orphans of people who got killed in the war. The school has it's own secrets including hidden gold and the ghost of a murdered student that wants revenge. I forgot to mention the bomb that is stuck in the ground in the middle of the courtyard.

The Special Edition DVD is a chance for people to see the movie in an improved DVD with a new High Definition Transfer made for this DVD with a new commentary track (and some new extras). It is being released on the same day as the HELLBOY (2-disc) SPECIAL EDITION DVD. I have seen both DVDs which are quite mpressive. However, THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE is my favorite of the two movies.

VIDEO/AUDIO: The movie has a beautiful transfer in 1.85 anamorphic widescreen. The colors are vibrant and the blacks are dark. Audio for the movie is in Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital with the option of English subtitles being on or off. The director's commentary track is in English 2.0 Dolby Surround.

SPECIAL FEATURES: First off, a new commentary track by director Guillermo Del Toro was done for the Special Edition DVD. He talks about the story and what elements influenced it (from his childhood and movie influences).

Next is "Que Es Un Fantasma?": the Making of the Devil's Backbone documentary. The 25 minute documentary talks about the story of the movie, how Del Toro approached child actors, the use of prosthetic effects, and actors talking about their characters and how they approached playing those characters.

There are four deleted scenes (with optional commentary by the director). The scenes were cut for pacing (or for being too static), and they are presented in 1.85:1 widescreen.

The DVD features five conceptual art galleries: characters, art direction/set design, prosthetic effects, thumbnails, and director's notebook pages. Storyboard Comparisons features comparing the director's thumbnails and storyboard art to the final scene. Four scenes are covered in this way while the final two scenes are a comparison between the storyboard and final scene.  Too bad the comparison featurette doesn't have a multi-angle feature.

FINAL ANALYSIS: THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE features a great transfer, good extras (thanks go out to DVD Producer Javier Soto, and a movie that is Del Toro's best. if you liked HELLBOY (and own the DVD), you should rent or buy THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE Special Edition DVD.

this review is (c)7-15-2004 David Blackwell. This review cannot be reprinted without permission. send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com  

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