Moscow on the Hudson (1984)

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Released 24-Jun-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Audio Commentary
Trailer-Sleepless In Seattle; It Could Happen To You
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 112:27
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (72:59) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Paul Mazursky

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Robin Williams
Maria Conchita Alonso
Cleavant Derricks
Alejandro Rey
Saveli Kramarov
Elya Baskin
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music David McHugh

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.0 L-C-R-S (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Vladimir Ivanoff (Robin Williams) and his friend Anatoly Cherkasov (Elya Baskin) are both performers in a Russian circus which is going to perform in New York City. Vladimir plays the saxophone in the circus band while Anatoly is a clown. Anatoly is depressed by the lack of freedom he has and he confides in his friend that he plans to defect while they are on tour. Vladimir lives in a small apartment with his extended family and, although he supports his friend's plan, appears resigned (but not unhappily so) to his life in Russia which is characterised by standing in endless queues in order to buy such necessities as toilet paper and shoes.

    The circus' KGB minder Boris (Saveli Kramarov), suspects that Anatoly may defect and keeps a close eye on him as well as asking Vladimir to spy on him. As opportunities to defect dwindle, Anatoly tells Vladimir that he will make his move when the performers visit Bloomingdale's department store on their way to the airport to catch their flight home. Unfortunately, he never gets up the nerve to do it. As the group leaves the store, Vladimir impulsively defects himself, creating a fair bit of mayhem as he leads the KGB minders and Lionel Witherspoon (Cleavant Derricks), a store security guard, on a chase through the store and the streets of the city. During the chase he is befriended by Lucia Lombardo (Maria Conchita Alonso), a salesperson at the store, and is approached by Orlando Ramirez (Alejandro Rey), an immigration lawyer . Having nowhere to stay, Witherspoon offers Vladimir temporary accommodation at his home, where in an amusing parallel to Vladimir's Russian life, he lives with his extended family. A few funny moments are offered as he tries to come to grips with the vagarities of American culture as he waits for his asylum request to be granted. His first visit to a supermarket to buy coffee is one of the funniest moments when, confronted by an entire aisle filled with seemingly endless brands and varieties of coffee, he becomes overwhelmed by the experience and ends up in hospital!

    While not by any means an hilarious movie, Moscow On The Hudson does have some amusing moments and is probably best kept for viewing on a rainy afternoon when there's nothing better to do. A positive point is that Robin Williams, who is without doubt a brilliant actor with the ability to play a wide range of characters, plays his part in a restrained manner rather than the over-the-top approach which typifies many of his comedy roles.

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Transfer Quality


    This is quite a good video transfer with no significant flaws.

    This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 with 16x9 enhancement. I believe this is the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    Generally the image is quite sharp and exhibits good shadow detail, however there is the odd shot that is in soft focus. Edge enhancement is noticed occasionally.

    A full colour palette is on display in this transfer. While the picture generally looks pretty good, it does have a slightly dated appearance which is evident in the muted colours which are most obvious in the outdoor scenes.

    Occasionally, minor aliasing is noticeable. Film grain is evident at all times. Minor marks are visible but these are not significant enough to be distracting. No compression artefacts were evident.

    There are 26 subtitle streams including several dedicated to the commentary track. A 10 minute sample of the English dialogue subtitles showed these to be almost word perfect, well timed and displayed in easily readable white text at the bottom of the screen. By default, English subtitles are provided for the Russian dialogue.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change occurring during Chapter 21, at 72:59. It is quite an abrupt layer change which is very noticeable.

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


    This is a very good audio transfer. The nature of the story means that this is not going to be a demo disc that you'll use to show off your system but nonetheless the audio is essentially flawless.

    Six audio tracks are provided on the disc. I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 4.0 audio that for the first half hour is almost entirely in Russian. It is presented in a left, centre, right, surround configuration. I also listened to the Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded commentary track.

    For the most part, the dialogue was completely understandable although the occasional word was a bit hard to make out, primarily due to the accents of the various characters. There were no apparent problems with the audio sync.

    For the most part, I didn't find that David McHugh's quiet little musical score added that much to my viewing experience.

    The surrounds are used consistently for the musical score and on a couple of occasions to provide some ambience. The story doesn't really require anything else.

    As there is no dedicated .1 channel in this soundtrack, the subwoofer was silent as expected.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The only significant extra is the audio commentary.


    The menu is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. There is neither animation nor audio.

Audio Commentary

    The commentary by Director Paul Mazursky is extremely detailed and provides lots of information about the making of the movie. One interesting piece of information he imparts is that has written a sequel to the movie, called Moscow On The Rocks, which deals with the Vladimir Ivanoff character after he has become successful and has lived in New York for several years.

Trailer-Sleepless In Seattle (2:30) ; It Could Happen To You (2:15)

    These are both presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1. The audio is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono for Sleepless In Seattle and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded for It Could Happen To You. Subtitles are also available.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    There are also some differences in the subtitles languages available in each region.

    I'd select the local RSDL disc as the version of choice.


    Moscow On The Hudson was a mildly amusing rather than an uproariously hilarious comedy.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The only extra of note is the Director's commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Friday, May 02, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-515, using S-Video output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationYamaha RXV-995
SpeakersFront L&R - B&W DM603, Centre - B&W LCR6, Rear L&R - B&W DM602, Sub - Yamaha YST-SW300

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