Grand Canyon (1991)

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Released 11-Feb-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Theatrical Trailer-2:33
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 128:58
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Lawrence Kasdan

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Danny Glover
Kevin Kline
Steve Martin
Mary McDonnell
Mary-Louise Parker
Alfre Woodard
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music James Newton Howard

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.0 L-C-R-S (384Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Croatian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Let's try the easy way first have you seen The Big Chill? Strange film, made in the 80s, about a bunch of friends getting together after meeting at a mutual friend's funeral. Remember it? Cool. Did you like it? Yes? Then go get this film. Hated it? Then avoid this film. Don't know it? Drat now I have to try to describe it...

The first thing I should point out is that despite the casting of three male leads (Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, and Steve Martin) who are best known for their work in comedy, this is most emphatically not a comedy.

This film is nothing like The Big Chill, except in feeling. OK, the two films have Lawrence Kasdan in common. Both films are about a bunch of people. Both films have a rather impressive cast, and both draw impressive performances from those casts. Oh, and don't watch either film when you're feeling depressed you may not survive the experience. Neither film is what I'd call a happy film, although this one is probably even more of a downer, even though the other film is set after the funeral of a suicide (don't you love films that start on an up-note?).

More than anything, this film is about Los Angeles in the 90s, about all manner of things that can make you depressed. As one of the characters puts it, "Do you ever feel that you are only this far from being hysterical 24 hours a time?". It's about fear, about loneliness, about doubt, about looking for love or even companionship. It's about all sorts of negative emotions. So why is it compelling? Why couldn't I stop watching? I don't know. All I can tell you is that this is an unusual and powerful film, and I strongly doubt you'll regret seeing it, if you liked The Big Chill.

I'm not going to outline the plot you have to experience it. Besides, this film isn't as much about a plot as it is about an accumulation of events. Some of the events are connected. Some aren't. It's not the individual events that matter so much as the total they form. Quite a few of them hit hard, and the sum is heavy-going indeed.

Warning: if you're squeamish about blood, there's one scene you might want to look away from, involving surgery on a gunshot wound.

Interestingly, this film has been labelled "The Worst Film Ever Made" by some sources I can actually understand that, because they may have been expecting something quite different (maybe they were expecting a comedy?).

I'm going to stop now. Either you want to see this film now, or not. I recommend it, but only if you're willing to think about it.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, which is the intended ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.

This is an extraordinarily good-looking film, running a high bit-rate almost all the time. This is not a Superbit disc (wrong company), but we won't need one.

An odd thing: on my primary review setup this disc looks stunning astonishing sharp and clear; on a secondary setup, using a regular TV, the transfer looks just a touch soft. It may well be that this disc is showing up the limits of that (cheaper) player...

Shadow detail is superb, and film grain is invisible. There's no low-level noise. Some early footage in the film takes place at night, and it looks awesome.

Colour is beautifully rendered, with some rich deep fully-saturated colours. Interestingly, the trailer shows how badly some of those same colours can be rendered. There are no colour-related artefacts.

I was going to tell you that there were no film artefacts, then I saw one. Yup, there's a small light-coloured splotch at 126:34, during the closing credits (!). There may be others, but they'd have to be tiny.

There's next to no aliasing, even on things that usually alias. There's one tiny moment of moire. There's no shimmer. There are no MPEG artefacts.

This is a brilliant transfer, and an extremely clean one. Considering that the film is over ten years old, this is truly impressive.

There are subtitles in thirteen languages, including English, and although the English subtitles are labelled as being for the Hearing Impaired, there is next to no mention of sound effects. The English subtitles are reasonably accurate, well-timed, and easy to read.

The disc is single-sided and dual layer, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 68:49, almost exactly half-way through. It's nicely placed, almost invisible, and not at all disruptive.

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


This disc is a little unusual. The theatrical presentation was Dolby Stereo (it's mentioned in the credits). This disc is in Dolby Digital 4.0, formatted LCRS (that's left, centre, right, and surround, meaning mono surround) I prefer this over a surround-encoded 2.0 soundtrack.

The dialogue is clear and easily understood. There are no audio sync problems.

The score, from James Newton Howard, is quite a piece of work. There are sections without music, but those have been deliberately thought out. The music, including the several songs, has been well-chosen, and complements events well.

The surround speakers deepen the soundfield seamlessly (even though it is only a mono surround signal), making this a very nice effort.

The subwoofer is not provided with a signal from this soundtrack, but your amplifier's bass management may redirect bass from the other channels into the sub.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



The menu is static and silent.

Theatrical Trailer (2:33)

One of the best reasons to watch this trailer is to appreciate how much better the colour rendering in the film transfer is.

Featurette (5:50)

This is a short EPK piece. There are a couple of short interviews, and some words from the director, but little of any substance.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 is listed as having the same extras as the Region 4, is widescreen and 16x9 enhanced. The only differences are that the Region 1 has a French soundtrack, and the Region 4 has a lot more subtitle tracks. I haven't found a reliable assessment of the quality of the R1 transfer, so I can't tell you which is better. What I can tell you is that this one is awesomely good, and the R1 would have to be extremely good to be its equal, let alone better.


Grand Canyon is a superb DVD of a complex and powerful movie that is not for everyone.

The video quality is excellent.

The audio quality is excellent.

The extras are basic.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
Review - Adam Barratt (symbiosis) REPLY POSTED
Excellent review - REPLY POSTED
16:9 enhanced - what does it all mean - REPLY POSTED
RE 16:9 enhanced - what does it all mean - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
RE 16:9 enhanced - what does it all mean - garumph (read my bio) REPLY POSTED
Anamorphic - DVD manufacturers should stick with one terminology so the public can relate faster! - REPLY POSTED