William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (55:00)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Michael Hoffman|
Twentieth Century Fox
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999) is the latest film adaptation of one of William Shakespeare's better-known feel-good romantic comedies.
Based on British oral folk stories about forest spirits, the plot of Shakespeare's play is a little thin and bizarre: Theseus, Duke of Athens, is about to marry Hippolyta, a female warrior. Egeus brings his daughter Hermia to court. Hermia wants to marry Lysander, but Egeus wants her to marry Demetrius. Under Athenian law, Hermia must either: (1) marry the man of her father's choice; (2) join a religious order; or (3) be executed. Theseus gives Hermia a few days to decide. Meanwhile, Demetrius has seduced and dumped Hermia's friend, Helena. Hermia and Lysander decide to elope, and take refuge in an enchanted Forest. Demetrius follows them, and Helena follows him. Meanwhile, in the forest, Oberon and Titania, king and queen of fairyland, have argued, and a series of miscast and misdirected spells follow that sweep up Helena, Demetrius, Hermia and Lysander. They are not alone, as there are also some bumbling, amateur actors rehearsing a play in the Forest, and these mortals, especially a foolish actor named Bottom, also get caught up in the web of magical mischief-making.
There have been a number of film adaptations of this play, and this one was adapted and directed by Michael Hoffman. The play is essentially about the irrational nature of love, and relies on Shakespeare's oft-used plot devices of mistaken identity and the "comedy of errors" that follow. The play is an escapist, light romantic comedy, but this adaptation does not entirely capture that spirit. Often being far too serious, or far too literal, the movie downplays the silliness and ridiculousness of the play and characters, and in doing so seems to miss the point of the original story. Love is irrational. Indeed, much of human behaviour is irrational. While we are civilised, we remain merely educated animals. While the play captures the foolish side of human nature, the movie does not.
That said, the movie does enjoy great art direction and costumes. The acting is also generally excellent, and there is an all-star ensemble cast, including Kevin Kline, Michelle Pfeiffer, Stanley Tucci, Rupert Everett, Calista Flockhart, Dominic West, Christian Bale, Anna Friel, David Strathairn, and Sophie Marceau. While not being perfect, this adaptation is a treat for the eyes and ears, and is still an enjoyable piece of fun, romantic escapism.
The transfer is sublime.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is very close to its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.
The image is a little soft at times, but reasonably sharp throughout. The shadow detail is good. For example, consider the shadowy scene at 21:49.
The colours and black levels are great.
There are no problems with MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. Film artefacts appear infrequently throughout, but they are tiny flecks only.
Eight sets of subtitles are present on the DVD, and the English subtitles are accurate.
This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 55:00. It is noticeable, but not disruptive.
Apart from the English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track, there are also three other Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks: French, German, and Spanish.
The dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on the default English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track.
The musical score is credited to Simon Boswell, but most memorable and enjoyable is the extensive use of orchestral and operatic music by Rossini, Mendelssohn, and Verdi.
The surround sound mix is usually very subtle and effective. The rear speakers are used throughout to help carry the score and provide ambience. For example, the rain at 22:50 and the wonderful score and applause at 92:43
The subwoofer is also utilised very effectively to support both the score, such as at 15:07, and the sound effects, such as the thunder at 22:39.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
A very simple, static menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999) was released on DVD in Region 1 a few years ago.
The Region 4 DVD misses out on:
The Region 1 DVD misses out on:
I would favour the local release for its affordability, and most importantly its superior PAL image, 16x9 enhancement, and its dual-layered status.
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999) is a light piece of enjoyable, romantic, feel-good fluff.
The video quality is very good.
The audio quality is excellent.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|