Metrodome Edition [UK, Region 0, PAL]
the voices of: Geoffrey Rush, Kamahl, John Flaus, Julie Forsyth
Harvie Krumpet tells the life story
of a Harvek Milos Krumpetzki, a boy born in Poland in 1922. It's a
bittersweet story, as a string of bad luck plagues the poor sod from
childhood to retirement. Along the way there are some uplifting events, as
Harvek moves to Australia - Anglicising his name from Harvek to Harvie in
the process - finds true love and gains a family.
Harvie Krumpet is beautifully
narrated by Geoffrey Rush, as if it were a story he was telling to a child
at bedtime. The stop-frame plasticine animation inevitably recalls Aardman,
but has a distinctive tone that sets it apart. Some of the story is a bit
depressing, and there are adult elements dealing with sex and death that
perhaps make it unsuitable for young children. At twenty-two minutes, it's
pretty much the perfect length. It lacks the assured polish of the better
Aardman productions, but is well up to the standards of that studio.
Harvie Krumpet won the 2003 Academy
Award for Best Animated Short Film.
Despite claims to being "16:9 Anamorphic"
on the sleeve, and what you might read in reviews elsewhere, the film
itself is presented in non-anamorphic letterbox format. This is
unfortunate, because anamorphic enhancement would undoubtedly have helped
Much of the film has a distinctly drab
look, which was entirely deliberate. The film looks just fine. There's a
bit of grain, and some instability, but nothing that you wouldn't expect,
and nothing that can't be excused. There's also a bit of flicker in some
scenes, which is caused by on-set lighting variations. Occasionally
there's a bit of negative or positive film dirt, which could have been
tidied up by an hour or two with a Paintbox-type utility. Generally,
though, the transfer looks fine, with decent contrast and detail.
The film has optional English subtitles,
but there are no subtitles for the commentary, or the other bonus
materials. The subtitles are not restricted to the picture area of the
letterboxed image, which will disappoint viewers with 16:9 sets that need
The short running time of the feature and
the bonus materials are easily accommodated on a DVD-5 format disc,
leaving plenty of wasted space. The bit-rate for the main feature is
6.52Mb/s. A much higher bit-rate could easily have been employed, and
still not filled the disc. Thankfully, there are no obvious encoding
There are numerous captions during the
film, which are presented as they originally appeared in the film (there
are no player-generated captions).
Unlike the Region 1 disc, the UK
presentation of Harvie Krumpet has a Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.
There are only a couple of moments that take full advantage of this, but
when they do kick in, it's very effective.
The film is supported by a commentary track
by Adam Elliot, which is very informative, and often very entertaining
(one morning the animators discovered that their set had been invaded by
ants, who were eating the "snow", which was made from icing sugar). It
concentrates on the minutiae of the production (what things were made out
of, for example), and neglects the larger picture (why the film was made),
but it's useful enough.
The disc also offers four other Adam Elliot
short films: Human Behavioural Case Studies. Series One
(1996, 1m, erroneously identified on the menus and packaging as Human
Behavioural Case Studies, Part One), Uncle (1996, 6m),
Cousin (1998, Elliot's first commissioned film, 4m), and Brother
(1998, 8m). The latter three form a semi-autobiographical trilogy, in
similar vein to Harvie Krumpet, but more obviously grounded in
reality. Human Behavioural... is traditional 2D animation: the
others are stop-motion plasticine animations. These films, which show an
animator honing his skills, are, unsurprisingly, in rougher shape than the
main attraction, but are a terrific addition to the offering. Harvie
Krumpet is an enormous step up in terms of production quality
(particularly the sound, which is quite poor on the shorts). The short
films include ideas and gags that would turn up later in Harvie Krumpet,
and seeing them is very informative.
There's no indication on the menus, but
Uncle, Cousin, and Brother are each accompanied by a
commentary track by Elliot, which can be accessed via pressing your
remote's AUDIO button.
The Storyboard Featurette (6m) shows
some behind-the-scenes photo's, and a presentation of some sequences from
the film alongside Adam's storyboards, which scroll along the bottom (a
particularly effective presentation). This has narration by Elliot, who
ends the presentation with some statistics about the production.
Character Model Shots are still-frame
images of four of the characters in the film. You can use your remote
control buttons to rotate the figures by ninety-degrees. Not as effective
as a simple film of the models shot on a turntable might have been, but
There's an Easter Egg to be found on
the Extras menu: if you move the cursor around, a cigarette appears in
Harvie's mouth, and if you select that, audio of someone singing Danny
Boy begins. I'm not sure what relevance this has - perhaps I wasn't
paying enough attention.
Incidentally, Harvie Krumpet is the
first disc I've played since buying my current Sony DVD deck (a couple of
months ago) that takes advantage of the player's "screen saver" function.
The disc loads a still image into the player's memory, so that when you
stop the disc, you don't revert back to the player's own graphic screen. A
A charming animated story, more suited to
fans of Angry Kid than Creature Comforts, Harvie Krumpet
is worth the attention and accolades it has gathered. The DVD comes
with a lot of supporting background material, forming a rounded portrait
of a very talented animator. The non-anamorphic presentation, and the
cautious bit-rate used, are both disappointments.
The UK disc has a key advantage over the R1
release, which does not have a 5.1 audio track. The UK disc appears to be
very similar, however, to the R4 version. None of the versions currently
available has an anamorphic transfer. There would appear to be no reason
why the UK disc is not the one to get.