Jeremiah Johnson

Details At A Glance

General
Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Running Time 111 minutes Commentary Tracks None
RSDL/Flipper No/No Other Extras Cast/Crew Biographies
Production Notes
Featurette - "The Saga of Jeremiah Johnson"
Region 4    
Distributor Warner Brothers    
RRP $29.95    

 
Video
Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English 
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
   

Plot Synopsis

    Jeremiah Johnson is the story of Jeremiah Johnson, a man with a mysterious past who decides to 'go bush ' and live in the American Rockies, trapping beavers and hunting to survive.

    The movie opens with a musical overture set against a scenic shot of the Rocky Mountains.

    Jeremiah (Robert Redford) arrives in the Rockies, and it is painfully clear that he is not very good at survival techniques early on. He encounters Bear Claw (Will Geer), who has been living off the mountains for a long time and who takes Jeremiah under his wing, which is fortunate, as he would not likely have survived otherwise.

    Presently, Jeremiah strikes out on his own, and soon encounters a crazy woman whose husband and daughter were killed by Indians. She asks Jeremiah to look after her son, who has been mute ever since he witnessed the killings.

    Next, Jeremiah comes across another crazy man, bald and buried in the sand up to his neck. Jeremiah frees this man, and they go and steal back the man's supplies and horses. They also kill some Indians, something Jeremiah is unhappy about.

    Next, they encounter some Flathead Indians who are fundamentally peace-loving Indians, and Jeremiah gives them the scalps of the Indians that they have killed and some of the horses. In exchange, he receives the chief's sister as a wife, something which Jeremiah is also not all that happy about. Slowly, however, he comes to accept his lot and also becomes fond of his wife.

    One day, some white settlers come along and ask for Jeremiah's help in locating a stranded wagon train.

    An intermission follows, and then an Entr'acte. I have seen some debate about whether or not this movie was shown with an intermission or not at the theatre - however, the intermission does not hide a layer change or a side flip so it is probably irrelevant.

    Jeremiah unwillingly leads the settlers through a Crow burial ground, and then returns home to find his wife and son dead - killed by Crow Indians presumably in revenge for his desecration of their sacred burial ground. Jeremiah kills several Crows in retaliation, and continues to kill the Crow warriors sent to kill him. He becomes almost legendary in his ability to cheat death.

    Finally, Jeremiah returns to the crazy woman's house - she has long been killed by Indians, and he sees a monument to himself. He also sees the Crow chief, and finally it appears, peace is made.

Transfer Quality

Video

    This movie was shot in 1972, making it 26 years old. This transfer is only fair because of aliasing artefacts. Otherwise it is a reasonable, but dated, transfer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. It appears to have been taken from a reasonably clear interpositive element.

    The movie was generally clear and sharp. Film grain was apparent on occasions, but was not particularly disturbing.

    The colour was generally well saturated in the brightly-lit outdoor scenes, but more muted in the lower lit scenes. Overall, colour fidelity was pretty good.

    No MPEG artefacts were seen. Film-to-video artefacts were a problem with this transfer. In particular, there was a lot of aliasing with vertical pan shots, where a whole mountain or tree vista would shimmer during the pan. This became very distracting indeed. Film artefacts were present reasonably frequently, but were not intrusive.

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 5.1. This is a remixed soundtrack from the original mono soundtrack.

    Dialogue was normally clear and intelligible, but was quite variable in quality - it sounded like some dialogue was recorded on location and other dialogue was recorded during post production. There was some occasionally bothersome hiss apparent in the soundtrack.

    The music consisted predominantly of unremarkable orchestral music. This was mixed mainly to the left and right front speakers, with the dialogue centralized.

    The surround channels were only used to support the music slightly.

    The .1 channel was not used as far as I could tell.

    This soundtrack could more accurately be described as a remix to 3.0 sound rather than a remix to 5.1 since there was not a lot going on in the surround and subwoofer channels.

Extras

    The major extra on this DVD is a 10 minute featurette entitled 'The Saga of Jeremiah Johnson'. This is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced. How can this be, I hear you ask? It's window-boxed. This is quite an odd choice of presentation when it could have easily been presented full frame. The sound on the featurette is very muffled Dolby Digital 1.0. If this is representative of the original soundtrack from the movie, then Warners have done an excellent job of restoring intelligibility to the movie soundtrack. The featurette discusses the movie in some length, and has some insights into the production of the movie. Generally, it is moderately interesting.

    The theatrical trailer is present on this DVD, presented at 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack (mixed mono).

    The other extras on this DVD consist of still frames for the cast and crew biographies and moderately detailed still framed production notes.

Summary

    Jeremiah Johnson is an acceptable quality DVD if you are a Robert Redford fan or love this movie. I found it reasonably entertaining, even though the basic premise sounds dull. The movie moves along at a pace which is just quick enough to keep you interested.

    The video quality is quite acceptable, except during vertical pans where aliasing is very distracting.

    The audio quality is variable, but passable. Describing this as a 5.1 mix, however, is an overexaggeration. 3.0 is more accurate.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

Michael Demtschyna
5th November 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer