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Details At A Glance

Category Music Main Menu Audio and Animation
Year Released 1990
Running Time 83:59 minutes
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,3,4,5,6 Director Jim McKay
Warner Reprise Video
Warner Vision Australia
Starring Michael Stipe
Bill Berry
Mike Mills
Peter Buck
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $39.95 Music R.E.M.

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during and after credits

Plot Synopsis

    Those of you who have read my review of the earlier R.E.M. release from Warner Vision Australia, R.E.M. - Road Movie, will no doubt realize that I am a big fan of the band. To me this is arguably the best band of the 1980s and 1990s. And so when it was announced that Warner Vision Australia were going to be nice enough to release not one more R.E.M. DVD, but three more R.E.M. DVDs, you can bet good money that I volunteered to do the reviews of all three, and so we look at the videos in age order, oldest to youngest, which means we start with R.E.M. - Tourfilm. This particular effort was filmed in around November 1989, with the actual footage contained in the video coming from six different shows. As a result, it demonstrates the "usual" problems inherent (it seems) in any R.E.M. concert video. The tracks on offer on this effort are:
1. Stand   10. It's The End Of The World As We Know It
2. The One I Love   11. Pop Song 89
3. These Days   12. Fall On Me
4. Turn You Inside-Out   13. You Are The Everything
5. World Leader Pretend   14. Begin The Begin
6. Feeling Gravity's Pull   15. King Of Birds
7. I Believe   16. Finest Worksong
8. I Remember California   17. Perfect Circle
9. Get Up      

    What exactly needs to be said here? This includes some of their finest songs from their earlier period and gems such as Stand, The One I Love, It's The End Of The World As We Know It, Pop Song 89 and Finest Worksong obviously stand out, but there really is nothing here that could be considered any worse than good.

    R.E.M. fans can rush out and add this one to their collection, but others may well be advised to review this one first to see if it suits their tastes.

Transfer Quality


    As with the earlier R.E.M. DVD, the source material demonstrates just about everything that can be wrong about concert videos. The filming itself is relatively poor, showing some quite appalling lapses in focus and indeed subject, and this is compounded by the usual frenetic editing style adopted for the final video. There are some continuity problems as would be expected from a compilation drawn from six concerts. Colours are all over the place and range from straight black and white, through washed out colour, to actually quite decent colour and thence to oversaturation - check out the woefully oversaturated blue at around 6:53. Based upon the previous DVD, would we expect anything else? This would appear to be exactly the effect that the band is looking for!

    The concert is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and obviously is not 16x9 enhanced.

    Shot in Super 8, the transfer reflects a wide variance in sharpness and definition, but overall is at best mediocre, and at worst is extremely diffuse. Detail is in general pretty average too, but often descending to very poor. As suggested, there is a significant grain problem throughout the transfer, probably a reflection of the Super 8 film stock, and the resultant image is anything but clear. There was the hint of some low level noise on a couple of occasions, but nothing too distracting. However it has to be made clear that once again, the problems here are source material related and not the result of DVD mastering problems.

    The colours are all over the place in the transfer, with absolutely no consistency whatsoever. Significant parts of the transfer are in black and white, but it is not really good black and white. Presumably, the way the film has been processed is a deliberate choice, but the result is a black and white image that really is not at all good - ill-defined and lacking any great depth to the tones. The colours range from woefully washed out through to oversaturated. Overall, the colours are very poor which is not helped by some of the more intense stage lighting effects, particularly one that causes horrendous wash-out problems in the transfer.

    There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There did not appear to be any significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. There were no real film artefacts noted.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There is just the one English audio track on this DVD, being a Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 soundtrack.

    The music and vocals generally come up well in the soundtrack, although I have to confess to be being just a little disappointed in the overall quality of the soundtrack. It suffers a little from a couple of noticeable instances of distortion in the sound. Whilst the effect is quite mild, the fact that it is noticeable distracts somewhat.

    As a result of the composition of the video, there are significant audio sync problems with the transfer, but nothing can be done about that as it is an inherent problem in the source material.

    The soundtrack made makes no use at all of the surround channels, nor the bass channel, and this is just like listening to a compact disc, albeit not a very good compact disc. The main issue I have is that the overall sound is just a little flat and lifeless for much of the programme. Accordingly, the great music just does not shine the way I would have expected. Nonetheless, the quality of the music tends to fight its way over the lack of dynamics in the soundtrack, and this broadly speaking is an enjoyable enough audio experience.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    To be honest, I really do not think that main menu audio and animation is much of an extra to induce purchase of this DVD by the non-fan. Similarly, a booklet catalogue is not much to go with, either. I suppose Warner Vision are working on the theory that fans will buy the DVD anyway, whether it is loaded to the gunwales with extras or not - so why bother with them? Nonetheless, would even a discography and biographies be asking too much?


R4 vs R1

    This release would appear to be identical to the Region 1 DVD. In view of the nature of the source material, there would be little reason to prefer one version over the other.


    R.E.M. - Tourfilm is another must for fans of this great band, but the quality of the source material would certainly limit the appeal to other people, and the asking price for a DVD without any extras is another limitation to the broader market I would suspect.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ian Morris (have a laugh, check out the bio)
7th October 2000

Review Equipment
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