Around the World in 80 Days (1989)
Synopsis-The Story So Far
|Year Of Production||1989|
|Running Time||271:11 (Case: 289)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Buzz Kulik|
Jill St. John
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
No, this is not the 1956 version starring David Niven as Phileas Fogg, nor is it the upcoming action-adventure extravaganza starring Jackie Chan as Passepartout. Instead, this is the 1989 TV mini-series featuring Pierce Brosnan as Phileas Fogg and Eric Idle as Passepartout. Also included are lots of cameo and extended appearances by many famous actors and actresses.
Don't expect a faithful adaptation of the original novel by Jules Verne. Like every other version (including Michael Palin's!) to date, the concept of a gentleman who makes a wager about being able to travel Around the World in 80 Days (accompanied by a manservant and being chased by a detective who suspects the gentleman of being a bank robber) is merely used as a vehicle for a series of fantastic adventures along the way.
Jules Verne would have cringed at seeing this version, for he was a stickler for scientific accuracy, and in this version any pretence of science has been discarded for the sake of a ripping yarn. The only way to enjoy this mini-series is to treat it as a piece of escapist fluff and an exercise for spotting cameo appearances plus references to historical characters. In that vein then, I had three light-hearted evenings (for the story is divided into three parts approximately 90 minutes each and spread across three discs).
The beginning and ending are fairly close to the book. Phileas Fogg, an "independently wealthy" gentleman, leads a ritualized life and is obsessed about keeping time and being punctual. He fires his manservant for not running his bath at the precise temperature he has specified, and hires a French man called Passepartout.
In his daily whist game with his friends at the reform club, he makes a wager with a fellow club member (Christopher Lee) that he is able to travel around the world within eighty days. His friends gleefully take up the challenge as they are sure he will lose. He leaves that very night accompanied by a bewildered Passepartout.
However, unbeknownst to them, Fogg is suspected of being the "gentleman bank robber" who recently stole £55,000 from the Bank of England. Detectives have been appointed by bank officials, and one of them, Wilbur Fix (Peter Ustinov), is determined to apprehend him, collect the reward and marry his sweetheart.
Needless to say, Fogg and Passepartout run into obstacles, setbacks and delays throughout their journey. In Dover, the Channel steamer is being held up by Sarah Bernhardt (Lee Remick) who is attracted to Fogg. In Paris, they are hampered by the French Revolution in progress, and the only transport they can find is an experimental balloon-lifted carriage to take them across the Alps to Rome. They travel onto Suez and Bombay in cramped quarters, sharing with seven Egyptians.
In India, they discover that the "Express" train takes longer than the local, and part of the journey has to be completed on elephant. Fogg rescues an Indian princess from being burned alive. Her name is Princess Aouda (Julia Nickson) and they have no choice but to take her along on their travels.
On the way to Hong Kong, they get kidnapped along with a Burmese prince. Passepartout gets drunk with Fix in Hong Kong, and neglects to inform Fogg of the change in the departure time of the ship!
In Japan, they board a steamship to San Francisco and Fogg and Aouda discover their growing affection towards each other, but Fogg is determined to suppress his feelings. They encounter Jesse James (Stephen Nichols) and some very angry Indians on the rail trip across the States. In New York, they resort to hijacking a boat to take them back to England.
Will Detective Fix arrest them when they get back to England? Will they make it back in time? Will Fogg finally declare his love for Princess Aouda?
If you have read the book, you already know the answers to all these questions, but it's fun watching the events unfold anyway. Although Pierce Brosnan is not quite my idea of Fogg, he plays him very well and Eric Idle is superb as Passepartout.
The transfer is in full frame, which I assume is the intended aspect ratio for TV broadcast. There are three single sided single layered discs in the package. The durations are 91:18, 89:34 and 90:19 respectively.
The film source is a 35mm film print. Although the print is relatively free of marks and scratches, there is a moderate amount of grain across the entire feature.
Detail levels are acceptable, although the overall look is a bit soft and blurred due to age. Likewise, colours appear a bit smeared and garish, although there was no overall brown or yellow tint which is fortunate.
I did not really notice any other film or compression artefacts.
There are no subtitle tracks.
There is only one audio track on the discs: English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (448Kb/s).
I was surprised by the activation of the surround encoding flag, but I suspect this is an authoring error. In any case, I did not notice significant usage of the surround channels even with Dolby Pro Logic II decoding engaged.
The overall transfer quality is good, although high frequencies sounded "odd" and somewhat out of phase, almost as if the tape head was slightly out of alignment. However, dialogue was clear throughout and there were no issues with audio synchronization.
The original music score is by Billy Goldenberg. The background music follows the time honoured mini-series convention of having a single memorable theme used as the opening and closing credits, and just about every background music strain is some sort of variation on this theme.
|Surround Channel Use|
I was hoping for some extras, but no, all we get is the main feature, plus short synopses for Discs 2 and 3, intended to be broadcast on TV immediately preceding the episodes to remind the viewer where the story was up to.
The menus are full frame and static.
This is a sixteen page colour booklet containing a listing of the cast of characters, a synopsis, various stills from the film, and credits.
These briefly recap the story so far, and are intended to be viewed just prior to the episode on the disc. They are presented in full frame and with English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (448Kb/s) audio.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 version of this disc appears to cram all episodes onto a single disc, so therefore I suspect the transfer quality is not as good. However, I'll rate both versions as the same in terms of content.
Around The World In 80 Days is another adaptation of the book by Jules Verne. This was produced as a TV mini-series starring Pierce Brosnan as Phileas Fogg and Eric Idle as Passepartout.
The video transfer quality is acceptable.
The audio transfer quality is okay, but show signs of tape head misalignment.
There are no significant extras.
|DVD||Custom HTPC (Asus A7N266-VM, Athlon XP 2400+, 512MB, LiteOn LTD-165S, WinXP, WinDVD5 Platinum), using RGB output|
|Display||Sony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)|
|Speakers||Front and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500|