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Deleted Scenes (9)
Featurette - Casting Sessions
Cast & Crew Biographies
Audio Commentary - Adrian Lyne (Director)
|Running Time||131:54 Minutes|
Fox Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan-and-Scan||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, after the credits|
The film begins with Humbert Humbert (Jeremy Irons) driving aimlessly down a long stretch of road in the year 1950 with a gun in his hands and a sad story to tell. We then wind back to the Cannes of 1926, where we see the younger Humbert (Ben Silverstone) meet a nice young woman named Annabel (Emma Griffiths-Malin). The two fall deeply in love, and all looks quite happy until young Annabel dies of typhus, leaving Humbert with emotional wounds which never heal. The story picks up in 1947, with Humbert now a literature professor who moves to America in order to accept a teaching position. Upon arriving at the home of some people he was going to stay with, only to find it has burned to the ground, he rents a room in the home of Charlotte Haze (Melanie Griffith) and her daughter, Dolores (Dominique Swain). Dolores reminds Humbert so much of Annabel in such an unhealthy way that he marries Charlotte chiefly in order to get close to her, a fact that Charlotte is none too happy about when she reads Humbert's diary. Before she can mail the appropriate letters to Dolores (who wouldn't care anyway) or the authorities, she is hit by a car and killed, leaving Humbert to care for Dolores and break the unfortunate news.
From there, Humbert and Dolores travel across the USA, stopping at various hotels and being followed by the mysterious Clare Quilty (Frank Langella), until Humbert takes a teaching position in an unusually liberal school for girls, headed by the hilarious Miss Pratt (Suzanne Shepherd) and the nondescript Reverend Rigger (Keith Reddin). Their manner of dealing with their young charges is highly uncharacteristic of the early twentieth century America, to say the very least, as a quick quote from Miss Pratt can attest. ("She's a lovely child, Mr. Haze, but the onset of sexual maturing seems to be giving her trouble. It is the general impression that 14-year-old Dolores is morbidly disinterested in sexual matters.") From this point onwards, the story focuses upon Humbert's increasing desire to possess Dolores and how everything falls apart as a direct result. With Quilty still following them, and Humbert's paranoia increasing beyond control, you can tell that it will all end in tears. As the two resume driving from town to town, Humbert is more and more convinced that Dolores is either trying to get away from him or about to turn him in to the police. The irrational behaviour acted out by Jeremy Irons through this section of the film really makes for compelling viewing, as do the attempts to exploit it performed by Dominique Swain in her first starring role.
A lot of controversy swarmed around this film when it was released both in America and Australia, with groups professing moral outrage at what is really a very simple and tragic story. To say that this film glorifies incest or paedophilia in any way is way off base, and it is clear that director Adrian Lyne wanted to tell the story as faithfully as is possible without pandering to the lowest common denominator, the viewers in search of another "erotic thriller". Numerous people who don't seem to have bothered to view the film have warned me off it, but I found the experience to be strangely enriching in a negative sort of way. The ending, which I won't spoil for the sake of those who need to view the film, really had the same disquieting effect upon me that the endings of films such as Gladiator and Fight Club have had, but for an entirely different and much more disturbing reason.
The transfer is nice and sharp most of the time, although there are some moments when the backgrounds become rather hazy. The shadow detail of the transfer is very good, with plenty of subtle steps from light to dark in the low-lit scenes, and there is no low-level noise. Some grain is apparent in the sequences set in 1926, but this appears to have been a deliberate artistic choice.
The colours in the picture are generally quite dull, with only the first half of the film containing any bright display of colours, and even then the only colours that really stand out are the fine greenery. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that director Adrian Lyne chose to create a dull, lifeless look in order to emphasize the emptiness of Humbert's world, and this effort was quite successful.
MPEG artefacts consisted of horizontal streams of aberrant pixels, the first taking place at 0:58. There are numerous artefacts just like this scattered through the picture, generally occurring once every fifteen minutes. The worst of these glitches took place at 74:13, with a string of randomly-coloured pixels covering Suzanne Shepherd's right eye, and at 75:10, where another string of aberrant pixels can be seen across her neck. There are two possible explanations for these streams of pixels appearing with such frequency. One is that they are faults used in the glass master that was used to make the disc, and the other is that they are digital tape dropouts. Macro-blocking is also apparent in the middle of the frame at 24:37, during the sequence in which Charlotte is driving Dolores to a camp. All in all, these were an extreme disappointment, coming from a distributor such as Fox Home Video.
Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing, but this artefact was quite well-controlled. Film artefacts are quite prominent during the opening credits, with numerous black marks, vertical white lines, and even what looks like a hair in the telecine machine making themselves apparent throughout the credits and introduction.
This disc makes use of the RSDL format, with the layer change coming during Chapter 22, at 93:53. The layer change is somewhat noticeable, but it is not too intrusive.
There are two soundtracks included on this DVD: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 5.1 with a bitrate of 448 kilobits per second, and an English Audio Commentary in Dolby Digital 2.0 with a bitrate of 192 kilobits per second. I listened to both of these soundtracks in their entirety. The lack of any dubs in foreign languages, or Region Codes other than 4, makes the video quality all the more puzzling.
The dialogue is clear and easy to understand at almost all times, thanks in no small part to the efforts made by each actor to clearly enunciate everything. There were no problems with audio sync, but a brief audio dropout can be heard at 77:10. There are occasional pops, maybe enough to count on one hand, in the soundtrack after this point, but it was hard to tell if this was a fault or a deliberate effect at times.
The score music in this film is credited to the legendary Ennio Morricone, and an excellent effort it is at that, enhancing the tragic aspect of the story. The score emphasizes haunting, melodramatic themes which almost give the film a funeral-like feel. There are also a handful of contemporary numbers used to accompany the scenes in which Dolores and Humbert are listening to the radio, but the use of music from the late 1940s gave them a surprisingly fresh and novel appearance. In some respects, the musical arrangements are the best thing about the film.
The surround channels were used in a subtle but consistent fashion to support the music and such sound effects as passing cars, birds taking flight, police sirens, insect zappers, and other such mild directional noises. The film is quite heavily based upon dialogue, so while we obviously can't expect all five channels to be constantly putting out sound for the entire film, the surrounds were used quite effectively when they were required. I've always felt that too much emphasis is placed on constant surround activity, so it was a refreshing change to see the channels used economically and artfully.
The subwoofer was frequently present to support the sounds of gunshots, car engines, and the music. It supported all of these effects without calling attention to itself or overpowering the other channels, which is again a nice change to what I have grown used to recently.
The video quality is disappointing, and suggests a major slip in quality control.
The audio quality is good, but not without some problems of its own.
The extras are comprehensive.
© Dean McIntosh (my
sucks... read it anyway)
March 31, 2001
|DVD||Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output; Grundig GDV 100D, using composite output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm) in 16:9 and 4:3 modes, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built In (Amplifier)|
|Amplification||Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NS-C120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|