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Details At A Glance

Category Children's Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.33:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 5.1
Rating Other Trailer(s) Yes, 2 - DVD Teaser #2, Dolby Digital City
Year Released 1998 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 85:30 minutes Other Extras Cartoon-Madeline 1952 (6:42)
Photo Gallery
RSDL/Flipper Dual Layer
Cast & Crew
Start Up Aspect Ratio selection / Menu
Region 2,4 Director Daisy Von Scherler Mayer

Columbia TriStar
Starring Frances McDormand
Nigel Hawthorne
RRP $34.95 Music Michel LeGrand

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s) 
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384 Kb/s) 
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles French
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    Based not-at-all loosely on the children's series of the same name, Madeline is a delightful conversion of book to film. Madeline and her friends must save their school from closure, and of course to do that they must get up to all manner of adventure. Unlike many children's movies of a similar nature, the lead characters are not brattish and full of attitude, but rather well behaved and pleasant - which came as a nice surprise. The story is simple, good natured and nicely paced. This is a very well constructed movie which will I am sure please young viewers time and again.

    Frances McDormand is very well cast as the nun schoolteacher, and the brilliant Nigel Hawthorne is welcome in any movie.

    One suggestion - watch the cartoon FIRST, and then watch the movie. The movie itself starts and ends in the same style as the cartoon, and is very well done. This will be sure to give you appreciation for the movie proper and I don't mind admitting that I myself quite enjoyed this movie - but just don't tell everyone!

Transfer Quality


    Columbia TriStar, you've done it again. Another flawless transfer.

    The transfer is presented in dual aspect ratios on the one dual layered disc. The disc starts with a very nice prompt to choose your preferred ratio. We have a widescreen 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced version, and a 1:33:1 Pan & Scan version. Comparisons between the two reveal that some side information is lost on the Pan & Scan version. There were times where the 1.78:1 version seems a little bit cramped also, which leads me to believe that the theatrical aspect ratio is greater. I watched the 1.78:1 widescreen transfer.

    The picture is at all times sharp and clear, with plenty of detail. Shadow detail is good, but could have been slightly better. There is no low-level noise at all.

    The colours are nicely captured, and being a children's movie this is important. Plenty of strong primary colours at times, but never garish or oversaturated.

    There were no MPEG artefacts during this movie. There are no film-to-video artefacts at all. There are no film artefacts, not surprising given the youth of this movie.

    This disc is Dual-Layered, with the Pan & Scan and the Widescreen versions of the movie on separate layers of the disc.


    There are two audio tracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the default English soundtrack.

    Dialogue was at all times clear and easy to understand.

    There were no problems with audio sync during the movie.

    The musical score by Michel LeGrand is wonderfully recorded, and perfectly suits the flavour of the movie. The sound is rich, full and detailed.

    Although this mix is 5.1, I would have had a hard time picking it had I not known. There is little to no use of the surrounds, giving a very front-heavy soundstage to the presentation. Whilst this is not of major concern given the target audience of this film, there were times when the surrounds should have been used more.

    The subwoofer got little use, and there were no low-frequency surprises here.


    There is a nice collection of extras rounding off this disc.


    The static menu design appropriately themed for the movie, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

U.S. Theatrical Trailer (1:44)

   Presented in 1.33:1, it is not 16x9 enhanced. It does however have Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.

Cartoon - Madeline (6:42)

    This is a charming cartoon made in 1952. It is in very good condition, and is a great addition to the disc.

Biography - Author

Photo Gallery

R4 vs R1

    The R1 version misses out on:     Given the essentially identical nature of the R1 and R4 versions, the R4 is the preferred choice given the inherent superiority of the PAL system.


    A very nice children's movie which I am sure will be enjoyed by the younger audience.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio is very good, only let down by the lack of surround usage.

    A nice assortment of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Paul Cordingley
1st December 1999
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A; S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver, 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt, Main/Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders, Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive