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Fox Lorber presents
The Other Side Of Sunday (Sondagsengler) (1996)

"Do what I never dared, Maria. Don't let them stop you. They have stopped so many."
- Mrs. Tunheim (Hildegunn Riise)

Review By: Dale Dobson   
Published: July 01, 2000

Stars: Marie Theisen
Other Stars: Bjorn Sundquist, Hildegunn Riise
Director: Berit Nesheim

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, sexual themes, language)
Run Time: 01h:39m:24s
Release Date: July 05, 2000
UPC: 720917521329
Genre: Drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

The Other Side of Sunday tells the story of Maria (Marie Theisen), an adolescent Norwegian girl whose conservative religious upbringing begins to conflict with her blossoming womanhood. Unable to talk to her strict father (Bjorn Sundquist) or hospitalized mother, she befriends Mrs. Tunheim (Hildegunn Riise), a pretty but repressed woman who works in the chapel. Rebelling against the pervasive influence of the Church quietly but with determination, Maria begins to discover her own strength and identity.

Norwegian films don't get a lot of play in the US (the most successful Norwegian movie to date has been the 1975 animated feature Flaklypa Grand Prix), and it is a pleasure to see this Academy Award®-nominated film (originally titled Sondagsengler) on DVD, in its original language with English subtitles. Director Berit Nesheim structures the story (adapted from Reidun Nortvedt's novel Sunday) with deceptive simplicity—by showing us Maria in public and in private, he allows us to access her innermost thoughts while also seeing the oppression inherent in her community's culture. Maria is unsure of herself, but her observations are independent and often casually profound—she wonders if any of the dour "church hags" truly feel the love they profess, and doubts her father has ever read the Bible's sensuous "Song of Solomon."

Maria is a thoughtful, intelligent but confused young woman, and Marie Theisen does a marvelous job of conveying her tentative, painful steps into adulthood and independence. Bjorn Sundquist is unyielding but human as her conservative father, and Hildegunn Riise communicates the pain and loneliness beneath Mrs. Tunheim's serene facade. The Other Side of Sunday depends on its human elements for its credibility—all the performances fit the film's restrained, naturalistic tone perfectly.

The Other Side of Sunday is critical of the organized Church, though its barbs are aimed at the conformism of the small-town church community, not its tenets—Christianity in the film's environment is synonymous with inhibition and emotional emptiness. When her wild friend Birgit (Ann Kristin Rasmussen) forsakes her makeup case on the eve of her confirmation, Maria's motivation becomes entirely clear—she's not seeking sex or rebellion for its own sake, but simple human dignity and freedom. This is the kind of story more easily expressed in science fiction than in real-world terms, and the film occasionally feels a bit heavy-handed. But its point is well-taken, and few films have explored this subject so deeply and realistically.

Rating for Style: B-
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.66:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: Fox Lorber presents The Other Side of Sunday in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio with a slightly letterboxed non-anamorphic transfer (the case is mislabeled, specifying a 1.33:1 full-frame transfer.) The source print has quite a bit of flecking with a few visible reel-change markers, with visible wear around the reel changes. Detail is passable and the image is free of distracting grain, but color seems muted and faded and the transfer is on the dark side throughout. The DVD digital mastering is competent, but the transfer is below-average overall, especially for a film barely five years old.

Image Transfer Grade: C-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access

Audio Transfer Review: The Other Side of Sunday features its original Norwegian-language monophonic soundtrack with English subtitles, mastered in Dolby Digital 2.0 (decoded to play through the center speaker only.) The film's fundamental sound engineering is solid, with good separation of dialogue, sound effects and music; subwoofer-level bass is non-existent but not really necessary. Unfortunately, Fox Lorber's DVD audio master is drawn from the source print's optical track and suffers from excessive hiss, pop and crackle in several scenes, to the extent that I wondered whether an old phonograph record was playing in the background. The film isn't heavily dependent on its soundtrack and remains watchable, but the audio is not up to contemporary digital standards.

Audio Transfer Grade: D


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. DVD Production Credits
Extras Review: Fox Lorber's The Other Side of Sunday DVD is limited in the extras department. English subtitles are "burned in" and cannot be switched off; menus are simply designed, incorporating well-chosen still images from the film. The disc includes a few standard, minimal-value supplements:

Filmographies and Awards:

Text screens provide filmographies and awards lists (no biographies) for cast members Marie Theisen, Bjorn Sundquist, and Hildegunn Riise as well as director Berit Nesheim.

DVD Production Credits:

Credits the individuals involved in the DVD production process.


A DVD-ROM .HTML file for linking to Fox Lorber and Winstar websites, with an alternate text screen provided for standard DVD player use.

Extras Grade: D


Final Comments

The Other Side of Sunday is an intimate coming-of-age story that speaks to larger questions of cultural pressure and individuality. Fox Lorber's DVD edition is below average, but don't let that stop you from checking out this worthwhile Norwegian film.


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