Man from Snowy River, The: Arena Spectacular (2002)

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Released 21-Jan-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-Outside The Arena
Featurette-Opening The Stable Door
Featurette-Wood Chopping
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 101:21
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:45) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By David Atkins
Ignatius Jones
Studio
Distributor
Jacobsen Entertainmn
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Georgie Parker
Steve Bisley
Charles Tingwell
Martin Crewes
Lee Kernaghan
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Garth Porter
David Atkins
Bruce Rowland


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format ?
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

"There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around
That the colt from old Regret had got away,
And had joined the wild bush horses -- he was worth a thousand pound,

    We all know the story of The Man From Snowy River, either through reading the classic A.B. 'Banjo' Patterson poem, or via the 1982 feature film of the same name. The much-loved tale also inspired the first scenes of the Opening Ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when the lone horseman galloped into the Olympic Stadium to the cheers of thousands of people. Two years later, the team that created the opening ceremony seen around the world decided to further develop the idea, turning The Man From Snowy River into a theatre-style production. But, rather than a simple stage production with a small cast and some pretend horses, co-directors/writers David Atkins and Ignatius Jones decided to turn the whole thing into a massive stadium-arena event, complete with dozens of very real, galloping equines. What they developed became known as The Man From Snowy River Arena Spectacular, a rather silly name I thought at the time, but judging from the success it enjoyed, this was a show loved by many people. It toured throughout the country, which when you see the scale of the thing, must have been quite a logistical effort.

So all the cracks had gathered to the fray.
All the tried and noted riders from the stations near and far
Had mustered at the homestead overnight,

    This is certainly more than just a theatrical performance of the poem. It is part theatre, part musical, part concert, and part equestrian event. There is a story followed throughout with the help of the narrator, played with laconic ease by Steve Bisley, who basically recites Patterson's classic poem and offers a few other suitably bard style lines. We see the capture of the brumbies, including the magical colt sired from old Regret, by old man Conroy (Charles 'Bud' Tingwell) and his crew of stockmen. A young bushman named Jim Ryan (Martin Crewes) arrives at the homestead and sets about winning over the wild horses and in turn wins over Conroy's daughter Kate (Georgie Parker). But things turn ugly when somehow the colt escapes and joins the wild brumbies, and then the chase is on. Bushmen gather at the homestead and prepare to ride into the high country to retrieve the young colt who is worth a thousand pounds.

For the bushmen love hard riding where the wild bush horses are,
And the stockhorse snuffs the battle with delight.

    Told as a series of set pieces over two acts, interspersed with musical numbers from country music legend Lee Kernaghan and band, some theatre, and various displays of riding prowess, this is an entertaining take on the famous story. The small screen really doesn't do justice to what was a massive production and while the use of close-up camera shots does help, certainly being there on the night would have been the only way to fully appreciate this spectacle. As a result, this disc is probably best suited to those that did attend and wish to have their memories of the show captured forever.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    To borrow from Banjo Patterson, I wish I could say "and he sees the vision splendid", but I can't. Overall, I was somewhat disappointed by this video transfer. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 it is also 16x9 enhanced.

    While the transfer is rather sharp and detailed overall, it is hampered by excessive pixelization throughout, most notably during Act One and virtually dominating the image whenever the scenes are a little darker. There are no problems with shadow detail, as the decent and extensive stage lighting takes care of that. There is also no low level noise.

    Colours are solid enough with few problems, but there is also nothing all that vibrant on offer either. Functional is the best way to describe the colour palette.

    As mentioned above, there is excessive pixelization in the transfer, most likely the fault of the disc authoring, and this is really quite disappointing. As a sidenote to that point, it is interesting to note the name listed on the back cover of the disc for the person credited as the DVD Video Technical Consultant. This role is credited to Alan Smithee, which as most of you probably know is the name used when someone doesn't want credit for the role they performed, usually because of the poor quality of the finished product. The quality of the video presented here would back up the assumption that whoever was technically responsible for the transfer wasn't completely happy with it.

    Other artefacts are mostly absent, although I did notice a few white spots on the screen from two particular camera angles.

    There is only one set of subtitles on this disc, these being English for the Hearing Impaired. They contain both spoken word and song lyrics, and are pretty well spot-on for accuracy.

    This is a dual layered disc. The layer change occurs at the intermission break between Act 1 and Act 2 at 52:45. Lee Kernaghan pauses noticeably before the fade-out to the end of the act, but it is about the best place it can be.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    While the video left me slightly disappointed, the audio is in much better shape and is a real corker. It is one that easily places you right in the middle of the action and at times is probably better than actually being there. The soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 5.1 effort encoded at the superior bitrate of 448 Kb/s. It is a solid, dynamic, and powerful soundtrack that will offer much for those of you with full 5.1 channel setups.

    The dialogue is perfectly balanced, clear, and easily understood. It is very prominent in the overall soundtrack, and there are no problems with audio sync.

    The music consists of several traditional A.B. "Banjo" Patterson poems set to music, contemporary country songs from Lee Kernaghan, and several instrumental pieces based on the original The Man From Snowy River film theme composed by Bruce Rowland. Something for everyone.

    There is plenty of surround channel use. It is pretty much evident throughout, but comes into its own whenever Steve Bisley narrates. His voice emanates from all channels and provides a superbly enveloping experience, placing the listener right in the middle of the action. The subwoofer likewise is supported throughout many of the songs, and when the brumbies thunder around the arena it comes into its own.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu Animation & Audio

Dolby Digital Trailer - Rain

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

Featurette - Outside The Arena

    Essentially a making-of featurette, this has interviews with many of the cast and is presented by the man responsible for the whole event, David Atkins. Running for 22:24, with video presented in an aspect of 1.33:1 and audio by way of a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, this is a reasonably informative piece that highlights some of the logistical problems encountered in putting on a show of this scale.

Featurette - Opening The Stable Door

    A brief 3:52 featurette that simply puts a name to all of the horses used in the show. Put together like a photo album with some quirky music, this is actually quite entertaining.

Featurette - Woodchopping

    The woodchoppers either got the chop (ouch!) from the original show, or they were the intermission entertainment. This featurette runs for 3:48 and shows a very quick demonstration of cross-cut sawing and log-chopping.

Biographies-Cast & Crew

    Highly detailed biographies for virtually the entire cast and crew, including all the riders in non-speaking parts. Very detailed.

R4 vs R1

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

    This disc is not available in Region 1.

Summary

    A show of such scale will always be difficult to translate to the small screen. The Man From Snowy River Arena Spectacular was really all about being there in the audience. For those that attended and are simply seeking a record of the event, this is a perfect solution.

    The video is adequate, but ultimately flawed. The excessive pixelization does detract from the overall enjoyment of the show.

    The audio is very nice indeed. The vocal and dialogue are first-class and the thunder of the horses will surely please.

    The extras, while limited, provided some reasonable behind-the-scenes glimpses of the show.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, March 19, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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