I'm Not Scared [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Via Vision
Review written by and copyright: Tom Williams & Noor Razzak (14th April 2024).
The Film

One of the most successful elements of Gabriele SalvatoresĎ excellent "Iím Not Scared" is the contrast and gradual shift between its idyllic opening mood and the mysterious thriller that the film eventually becomes. Seeing Michele, played with enormous talent by Giuseppe Cristano, play in the fields of his village in southern Italy evokes an almost universal memory of the freedom of childhood, yet the conclusion of the film has seen Michele challenge this coming-of-age genre and transform it into something that is more mature, more sophisticated and more sinister.

This tone is exemplified by the opening scenes, in which we see Michele exploring and playing in the fields drenched in bright Italian sunlight. As he looks for his sisterís glasses, he unearths a hidden well at the bottom of which he can see a childís foot. Just as this scene disrupts our sense of innocent childhood, it disrupts Micheleís, who runs home immediately in search of the comfort and order of his house. The film progresses by revealing the loss of innocence Michele undergoes as he searches for answers, and in doing so discovers that home can be a bad place too. Who the child is, and what this means to Michele and his family are sophisticated issues that are outside a childís understanding- and so it is in its way a tragedy that Michele eventually unravels the mystery.

Michele is at once a remarkable and ordinary boy. He plays with the other children of the village and looks after his sister, returning to his beautiful mother for dinner. However he also protects the girl being picked on by other children, diverting their attention by offering to perform a dare. Micheleís natural talent for being a storyteller allows him to overcome his fears in crossing an exposed beam, but also prevent him from truly understanding the situation he has found a young boy in. He instinctively imagines a fantasy world more palatable than the reality. This tendency to create stories is echoed in the mind of his imprisoned friend, who initially believes he is dead, and has been sent somewhere supernatural.

"Iím Not Scared" is beautifully shot, supporting its subject matter with such strength that this film becomes nearly unmissable. The golden fields of grain, unmarked like a childís soul, are a real and yet idealized world. The sharp cuts between Micheleís eyes and feet as he speeds away from his first glimpse of the prisoner highlight his fear, the totally consuming fear of childhood. Salvatoresí visual cues, which are many and varied, weave into Micheleís life effortlessly, without becoming mere pathetic fallacy. Although the natural world comes close to becoming a character in its own right, the predators and prey, domesticated animals that are real and not fantastic, and the human inability to change the course of nature mirror the experiences Michele goes through. The children themselves seem deeply in tune with nature, sometimes revelling gloriously in the natural world and yet sometimes quickly turning almost sadistic- or at least uncivilized. "Iím Not Scared" seems to be about the fringes and boundaries of life, as Michele goes from being a child somewhere between an animal and a human and an adolescent, something between a child and an adult.

The interaction between crime or mystery and the understanding and expression of a childís mind makes for very interesting viewing, and the compelling nature of the plot is supported wonderfully by very able acting and wonderful direction. This is a film nobody could regret seeing and few could regret owning.

Video

Presented in a widescreen ratio of 2.35:1 this HD master is presented in 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 compression. The master that was used for this transfer is quite old and the limitations of that unfortunately are evident here. Primarily in wide shots where detail doesn't look at fine as it could have been, colors also appear a touch muted, and there are some specks in the print. Limitations aside, the overall image is good. Skin tones appear natural, there's grain evident, blacks are mostly consistent. It'a nice to finally have this title in HD, but what this film really needs is a new 4K master. Maybe one day...

Audio

Two audio tracks are included in Italian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and Italian LPCM 2.0 stereo. For the purposes of this review I chose to view the film with its 5.1 track, the audio is quite good. Dialogue is clean and clear, surround activity is subtle but active enough to immerse the viewer into the film. No issues here. Forced subtitles are included in English only.

Extras

Imprint has ported over some extras from previous European releases, these supplements include:

An audio commentary by director Gabriele Salvatores, in Italian with English subtitles. In this track the director talks about adapting the novel into film, on his inspiration, how the film was conceived and shot, among other things.

"Fields of Gold" is a new 2024 featurette (16:39), in this clip the film's screenwriter comments about the differences between the novel and the film and shares some memories from the production.

Interview with director Gabriele Salvatores (24:06), here the director talks about the shooting location for the film, on casting the film, and working with the young cast, as well as the process and aesthetic choices he made.

"The Film, The Story, The Music" is a documentary (34:05) that takes a closer look at the making of the film and interviews key cast and crew.

"Behind-the-Scenes" featurette (12:08) is the final extra and it's your usual EPK material on the making of the film.

Packaging

Packaged in a keep case with a cardboard slip-case and is a Limited Edition of 1500 copies.

Overall

A phenomenal film that makes its Blu-ray debut, while nice to have in HD a newer master could have been ideal.

The Film: A+ Video: B- Audio: B+ Extras: A Overall: A-

 


Rewind DVDCompare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, amazon.de, amazon.it and amazon.es . As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.