Puberty Blues (1981)

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Released 12-Mar-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-Malcolm; The Big Steal; The Club
Trailer-Ghosts Of The Cruel Dead; Dating The Enemy
Theatrical Trailer
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Gallery-photos, poster and lobby cards
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 83:10 (Case: 87)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (47:03) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bruce Beresford
Limelight Prods
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Nell Schofield
Jad Capelja
Geoff Rhoe
Tony Hughes
Charles Tingwell
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Tim Finn

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures Yes
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, frequent
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Puberty Blues is a classic Australian film with special relevance for a bunch of Australians who are now in their late thirties and forties. Although the fundamentals of most of the situations shown in this film remain, the exact circumstances have changed in the last twenty years or so. I was trying describe the film to a friend in his early twenties, and found myself having to explain about how drive-ins used to be popular. I think the decline of the drive-in really corresponds to the rise of video rental, so yes, it's the last twenty years...

That doesn't mean that this film is irrelevant to anyone not already counting grey hairs. Hardly! This is a film about growing up as a teenager in Australia, about cliques, about peer pressure, about fitting in or being left out. Although some of the language has changed, it's still easily understood today, and the problems these teenagers face are exactly the same today. Well, almost the same I'd hope that there's a little more sexual equality today, but I could be disappointed.

This film is centred on one girl, Debbie (Nell Schofield). Debbie and her best friend Sue (Jad Capelja) are on the edge of the coolest clique in school the surfie chicks. The surfie chicks don't surf, of course. A surfie chick's job in life is to lie on the beach in a skimpy bikini (baking in the sun) and watch her boyfriend surf. When he comes to shore for a break she must trot dutifully up to the shop and get him a Chiko Roll and a coke, or whatever else he wants. She's useful for such errands, or for casual sex, but is otherwise ignored (see what I mean about sexual equality?). At the beginning of the film, Debbie and Sue aren't part of the clique, and that's shown quite clearly. They get their big break into being accepted as surfie chicks when one of the surfies, Bruce (Jay Hackett), thinks Debbie looks nice and asks her to go around with him (interesting courtship ritual). Debbie and Sue rapidly learn the various aspects to being a surfie chick, including the pain of being dropped, and the relief of finding another boyfriend.

You don't have to be Australian to appreciate the situations in this film, because they are quite common, particularly the development of cliques in high schools. You may have to be Australian to understand the language, though.

Even though the emotions and situations haven't dated, the clothes have the school uniform skirts are very short, the male teachers wear shorts, and we haven't seen crocheted bikinis in a while.

This film was derived from a book of the same name, written by Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey, about their own experiences growing up in Australia. I went looking on the web for mention of this book, and found quite a bit, including one quote that horrified me: "it's like an Aussie version of Looking for Alibrandi"... It took me a while to realise that the writer wasn't implying that Looking for Alibrandi wasn't written and set in Australia she meant that Looking for Alibrandi concerns Australians of Italian origin, while this film is concerned with Australians of no particular ethnic origin.

If you are a parent, wondering if this film is suitable for your child or teenager, let me point out that the M rating it carries is earned for frequent coarse language, sexual situations, and drug use. Smoking is universal among the surfies and surfie chicks in this film. Marijuana use is common. Hard drugs do appear, although most of them refuse them. Alcohol use and abuse features too. Sex is depicted as something girls do to keep boys from dropping them. This is definitely not a film for children, and you might want to watch it by yourself before letting younger teenagers see it. There is quite a bit of value in it, though, especially in the ending. Ultimately, this film has a positive message, but you have to judge for yourself whether that positive message is worth the rest. If you're wondering, I think it is.

I distinctly remember seeing Puberty Blues when it first came out it sticks in my memory quite clearly. It's good to see that the film still has impact today. What's not so good is seeing the state the film is in. But you'll read all about that below...

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Transfer Quality


This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. That's the intended ratio, and just as well, because Bruce Beresford makes a point about the correct aspect ratio in his interview.

The image is soft, almost as though taken from a videotape master (which you'd think is unlikely, given that it's 16x9 enhanced). Shadow detail is limited, but never troubling. The picture is not especially grainy, but it's really the low-level noise that mars the picture there's a lot of low-level noise, especially in the outdoor scenes.

Colour is variable, with some of the outdoor scenes showing rather more orange tones than the indoor, making the girls look sunburned. There aren't any egregious colour artefacts though, just the lack of consistency.

There are plenty of small film artefacts and some larger ones, but nothing major.

There's aliasing on pretty much anything that can alias, but it's not particularly troubling. There are moments of moire, but they tend to be small areas. There are no MPEG artefacts.

There are no subtitles, which is a shame, because some of the dialogue is sufficiently unclear that subtitles would be a help.

The disc is single-sided and dual layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 47:03, and it's quite obvious, but it doesn't disturb the flow of the movie too much.

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


This disc has a single audio track, in English, provided in Dolby Digital 2.0 (not surround-encoded) at 224kbps.

The dialogue is mostly fairly clear and generally easy to understand, but quite a bit of it is obviously looped, due to discrepancies in background noise. There are no obvious audio sync issues.

The music director was Les Gock, but the big songs come from Tim Finn, including the theme song and I Hope I Never (sung by a female voice here, which sounds odd after hearing it so often on the radio sung by a male voice).

Neither the surrounds nor the subwoofer are used by this straight stereo soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



The menu is animated with sound (mostly dialogue). This disc has one unusual feature: the transitions from menu to menu are random, each featuring a spot of trivia it's a nice touch, and had me zipping back and forth between menus out of curiosity.


Interviews filmed in 2002 with Nell Schofield (7:25) and Bruce Beresford (5:25). Quite interesting to watch, and it's interesting to see what what 17-year-old (in the film) Nell Schofield looks like now. There's also a one page filmography for Bruce Beresford; it might only be one page, but it lists 27 films.

Novel Profile

Three pages of notes, giving a little background on the authors of the book.


Umbrella Propaganda

An interesting selection of Australian films

R4 vs R1

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

This title hasn't been released in Region 1 (although this disc is coded for all regions) the film was not a big success in the USA.


Puberty Blues is a classic Australian film given a transfer that's not good.

The video quality is not good.

The audio quality is adequate, but nothing remarkable.

The extras are limited, but interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, March 24, 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)
Disappointing about the quality, all things considered - Trent Duvall
RE Disappointing about the quality, all things considered - Stimpy (da, what's a bio Ren?)
Picture Quality -