|Category||Drama||Featurette - Montage (7:11)|
|Running Time||114:46 minutes|
|Start Up||Language Selection, then Menu|
Universal Pictures Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192
French (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||No|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||?||
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
To some extent, you really had to be there to understand what the film is all about, although the broad story has been regretfully repeated with dire consequences across the world often enough over the last twenty-odd years. This is firmly set in the mid 1960s, in London, and typifying the death of the naivety of Britain to a large extent. The Mods and The Rockers. The green parka-clad, pill-popping riders of scooters and the leather-clad riders of motorcycles. British Beat versus American Rock. Next door neighbour against next door neighbour. Gang versus gang. Idiocy and idiocy. It all comes together for one weekend of agro on the beach front of Brighton, on the south coast of England. Told from the eyes of Jimmy Cooper (Phil Daniels), this is the story of his gang of friends as they lead up to a Bank Holiday to remember at the beach. Their dull existence in working class London - and believe me, London in the 1960s was the epitome of British class society - as they struggle to put the money together for the pills that sustain their lives. The anticipation of the Bank Holiday weekend in Brighton, when the Mods congregate to battle the Rockers. The fights, the arrests, the drugs, the sex and the consequences. It's all here in something of a warts and all look at gang life in the 1960s.
It hardly seems the stuff of anarchy nowadays, but the sad fact is that this sort of nihilistic behaviour is repeated in cities around the world. To some this is an unadulterated piece of rubbish, financed by a rock band reaching the height of its monetary ascendancy and with nothing better to do than blow money on sex, drugs - and a film. To some, it is a masterpiece of the highest order, a powerful film about a time when Britain really did lose its naivety as drugs, racism and disillusionment burrowed to the very heart of successive generations of British youth. To me, it is a memorable film that encapsulates the period so well, but really one to which the appellation of masterpiece is not appropriate. Unfortunately, it is firmly set in the period depicted and does not translate well to the approaching new millennium. However, you can see the power it has in the obvious influences in such films as Human Traffic and Trainspotting, amongst many other (predominantly) British films. Blessed with a good cast of young actors, this is so inside the idiom that it transcends acting and becomes reality. Phil Daniels is terrific as the increasingly unstable Jimmy Cooper, but every role is well portrayed. Such notable musical names as Sting and Toyah Wilcox (well, I know her anyway since nearly all her albums are in my collection) get to strut their stuff in another field, to reasonable effect. Obviously made with a limited budget, the overall effect is still as powerful as it was back in 1979.
Not a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, but nonetheless a quite powerful film whose influence is still being felt in films twenty years later. Whilst I definitely believe it a film that should be seen, I do recognize that many do not share that point of view - and for precisely the same reasons I would guess. However, whether the film is to your taste or not, I can guarantee you that the transfer is not.
The transfer is presented Full Screen and it is of course not 16x9 enhanced. Unfortunately, all the usual reference points for technical details on films seem to be devoid of any indication as to the original theatrical aspect ratio of the film. My feeling, and recollection through an admittedly heavily drug-induced haze, is that the film was originally released in a 1.66:1 aspect ratio - but don't quote me on that. However, this does not look as if it has been pan and scanned, as there are no obvious scenes where composition looks astray. Any concrete information on the aspect ratio would however be much appreciated.
Where does one start with what plagues this transfer? Generally soft to very soft definition threatens at times to bury the film, and this really is anything but a sharp transfer. It does have to be said though that for a couple of minutes, especially in the Brighton scenes the sharpness does actually reach average. Detail as a result is quite average to poor: the depth of field is shocking at times which detracts for instance from the long shots of Brighton - you simply cannot see the city. Shadow detail is pretty poor - not altogether unexpected but certainly much worse than what is good for the film. It is anything but a clear transfer and this is riddled with grain and low level noise throughout.
You certainly will not find bright, vibrant colours here at all. Undersaturated tones are the general call here, which I suppose to some extent captures well enough the feel of London of the 1960s. There is no great depths to the blacks here and at times they really have a woeful feel to them. You can certainly forget anything approaching oversaturation here in general, except perhaps for the dance hall scenes with red lighting and the blue lighting of the sun lamp used by Jimmy's sister. Colour bleed appears to be a minor issue on a couple of occasions, which compounds the lack of sharpness and clarity in the transfer.
MPEG artefacts are quite prevalent throughout the transfer in the form of some pixelization in the background - although I suppose to be fair, it may just be extreme noise and grain, since that is far more common. There is nothing in the way of film-to-video artefacts here, but then again they may be hidden by the other problems. The opening scene sets a very poor standard as far as film artefacts go and this display of scratches and dirt is continued throughout the film.
This is an RSDL formatted DVD, with the layer change coming very late in the film at 90:11. Whilst the actual change is quite decent, it seems somewhat perverse to me to have a 115 minute film transferred to DVD with the layer change coming so late. I would have thought that an earlier layer change would have provided at least a better allocation of space to permit the optimal amount of space for MPEG compression. After all, this film transfer needs every bit of help it can get.
If you require French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian,
Swedish, Norwegian and Danish subtitles on your DVD, you may well have
put this one back on the rack thanks to the packaging. These are all on
the DVD but are omitted from the packaging, due to Universal Pictures Home
Video being unsure of the subtitles to be placed on the DVD at the time
the slicks needed to be printed.
The dialogue comes up reasonably clear and reasonably easy to understand in the transfer. There seemed to be no serious problem with audio sync in the transfer, although you should be aware that I am quite tolerant of it and the Region 2 reviews indicate that audio sync is an issue with that release.
There is no music score here per se, as all the music to the film comes from contemporary music. Most of this is of course from The Who, but others such as The Crystals, Marvin Gaye, James Brown and The Ronettes also get a run here. The soundtrack album is utterly superb stuff, and so is this.
It is a pity that the music has not been given a
better soundtrack to allow it to really shine. Whilst this is thankfully
free of any serious drop outs or other distortions, it is still not a terribly
great sounding effort. Just a little muddy at times, with the distinct
feel of mono tweaked into stereo, even though I believe it was a stereo
recording. There is little in the way of dynamics here at all, and sounds
such as the motorbikes that really should have some throat to them simply
do not have any impact really in the soundtrack. Overall I would classify
this as decent at best, but it really should be a lot, lot better.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
1st December 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|