The Man from Snowy River (1982)

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Released 7-Apr-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-The Man From Snowy River - The Poem
Featurette-The Making Of The DVD - Restoring The Man
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Man From Snowy River II
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 100:01
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:34) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By George Miller
Studio
Distributor
Michael Edgley Int.
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Tom Burlinson
Terence Donovan
Kirk Douglas
Tommy Dysart
Bruce Kerr
David Bradshaw
Sigrid Thornton
Jack Thompson
Tony Bonner
June Jago
Chris Haywood
Kristopher Steele
Gus Mercurio
Case Amaray-Opaque-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music Bruce Rowland


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/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 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

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

    So starts that most Australian of bush poems, A.B. 'Banjo' Patterson's The Man From Snowy River, well known to many and the inspiration for this much-loved Australian classic film of the same name. The Man From Snowy River was made in 1982 and it captured the imagination of the Australian movie-going public like no locally made movie had ever done to that time and probably only the original Crocodile Dundee has since.

    Launching the career of a young Tom Burlinson, and co-starring a host of Australian talent and Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, it is the tale of a young man trying to prove himself against the odds. Set against the backdrop of the Snowy River high country and filmed around Mansfield in Victoria, the setting and landscapes effectively became a character in their own right, with the misty rolling mountains and tall stands of eucalyptus trees lending a distinctly Australian feel to the production.

    Burlinson is Jim Craig, a young and eager stockman. It's the late 1880s in rural Victoria and together with his father Henry (Terrence Donovan), Jim is eking out a meagre existence in the high country. When they discover that a rogue stallion and its pack of brumbies have returned to the area after not having been sighted for several years, Jim and his father hatch a plan to capture some of the mares for sale in the hope of improving their financial situation. But Jim's father is killed in a tragic accident just as they are about to capture the wild brumbies. Jim is devastated. Not only has he lost his only mare, who escaped and now runs with the brumbies, but his father is dead, and his way of life in the mountains is under serious threat. He calls on an old friend of the family, a hermit-like and crusty old prospector named Spur (Kirk Douglas in his dual role), hoping for some assistance. Spur may not have much in the way of possessions but he does have an old mountain pony that he gives to Jim. It is a pairing that will prove the making of the man.

    At around the same time, Jim hears that old man Harrison (Kirk Douglas), a wealthy rancher who owns much land near town has just purchased the last colt from the famous Old Regret and he is about take delivery of the young horse. Jim's curiosity gets the better of him and he decides to check out this colt, rumoured to be worth a staggering thousand pounds - a fortune in anyone's language. But Jim also has another motive to seek out Harrison. He needs a job now that his father is dead and the dream of breeding from the brumbies has gone. Harrison is impressed with Jim's work ethic and employs him as a stable-hand. It is here he meets Harrison's lovely daughter Jessica (Sigrid Thornton), and the two youngsters strike up an unlikely friendship much to the chagrin of the other workers on the property. Jim is eager to further prove his worth and horseman ability, so while Harrison and the rest of the experienced cattlemen are away on a muster, Jim, with the coaxing of Jessica, attempts to break the newly purchased and extremely valuable young colt in. When Harrison returns he is none too impressed with Jessica or Jim, but before Jim can be sacked it is discovered that the young colt has escaped and now runs with the wild brumbies. Harrison demands instant action and offers a massive 100 pound reward for the recapture of the prized horse. So just like the poem of the same name, all the crack horsemen gather at the homestead, including the legendary Clancy Of The Overflow (Jack Thompson) to aid with the recapture of the colt. The chase is on and in some of the best horse scenes ever filmed, young Jim may finally prove that he really is The Man From Snowy River.

    With support from the likes of Tony Bonner as Kane, the mercurial (!) Gus Mercurio as the crusty old Frew, Lorraine Bayly as Rosemary Hume and David Bradshaw making an almost cameo performance as Banjo himself, the supporting cast oozes Australian charm and character. At long last one of the true classic pieces of Australian cinema has made the transition to DVD. For those of you (like me) who have only ever seen this much-loved favourite on VHS this version is going to be a complete revelation.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    "...and he sees the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended and at night the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars."

    That's a line from another well-known A.B. 'Banjo' Patterson poem, Clancy Of The Overflow, and it could be used to describe the video transfer on offer here in this heavily restored release - because it really does look wondrous. This is the first time I have viewed the film in its proper aspect ratio and there can be absolutely no doubt this is the best it has looked since its original run in theatres around the country way back in 1982. In fact it is probably even better. There has been a significant amount of restoration work performed on this transfer, with the team at Digital Pictures in Melbourne obviously paying great attention to detail. Colour correction has been applied across the board, resulting in a balanced and more even looking image with deep solid saturation. Sharpness levels are excellent, with only a minor dose of edge enhancement present on some scenes, mostly those set in the dining room of Harrison's house when Jim Craig enters to deliver firewood. The level of shadow detail is excellent at all times, but I did find the brightness had been cranked up on occasion and black backgrounds did tend to take on quite a grey appearance at times. Thankfully grain is non-existent. There is no low level noise present.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. If you have only ever seen the VHS pan and scan version before, this widescreen image captures all the space and magnificence of the Snowy River high country to perfection, in addition to picking up much lost detail and background action of the tighter framed scenes. There really is no other way to enjoy a film like this.

    Colours are consistent and well rendered throughout. As stated above there has been considerable colour correction performed across the whole picture, with even the credits having being looked at quite closely. The result is a more consistent look, with each cut and scene blending seamlessly into each other. The only problem noticed in regards to this colour repair was approximately 22 frames which have been missed at the 20:22 mark. In the scene, Jessica is learning to tie a knot and the image is focused on her hands. As she is tying the knot the whole image fades slightly for just less than a second before resuming its normal colour balance. This is quite a noticeable artefact and I can only assume it was accidentally missed in the original restoration. Skin tones are natural and although blacks sometimes look a little grey, no detail is lost.

    There are no apparent MPEG artefacts. Aliasing is absent. There are some film artefacts present, with some being a little larger than your average white spot or fleck. It isn't as completely clean an image as say the Indiana Jones trilogy, but then it isn't as grubby as something like the original The Godfather film either. On a film artefact scale I'd rate it an eight.

    There are English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles available and I found them excellent, though not 100 per cent accurate.

    The disc is presented as a single sided dual layered picture disc with RSDL formatting. The layer change occurs at 55:34 and is reasonably well placed though quite obvious.

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

Audio

    The short answer - this is the best sounding remastered surround sound audio soundtrack I have ever heard - end of story.

    The long answer - read below.

    In the same way that the video image has undergone extensive restoration, so too has the audio soundtrack benefited from a complete remaster and remix. The crew at Soundfirm in Melbourne have taken the original stereo recording and turned it into something quite special that will certainly make the most of even a modest 5.1 surround setup.

     There are three soundtracks on the disc, all in English. A fairly standard Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack which mirrors the original recording is up first, followed by a fully remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Rounding out the selection is a beautiful dts 5.1 soundtrack encoded at the lower bitrate of 768 Kb/s. The latter was my soundtrack of choice, but both 5.1 soundtracks are really quite remarkable. There is clear and solid separation across the front speakers and plenty of rear channel activity. And it's not that weak and limp sort of leakage effect that merely dribbles across to the front or rear speakers either. This is solid, dynamic, and very well produced imaging across all the speakers which creates an incredibly well-balanced and enveloping sound experience. When the brumby chase sequence occurs towards the climax of the film there is consistent use of all channels around the room placing you smack bang in the middle of the pursuit. It really does sound excellent and adds so much enjoyment to the viewing.

    Dialogue is probably the weakest aspect of the whole track, with it a little lacking sometimes in fidelity, but make no mistake it is all superbly clear and easily understood and there is not a trace of audio sync problems.

    The score - who can ignore the score. It is arguably the most recognisable and enjoyable Australian score ever composed. Composed by Bruce Rowland it immediately evokes images of wide open plains, misty high country, rambling horse trails, and the flight of wild brumbies. It is exciting, emotive, and an absolute pleasure to listen to. The quality of the score presented here in its remastered form is enough to bring a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat - it really does sound truly wondrous.

    As mentioned there is quite a bit surround use throughout the whole soundtrack. They are used quite solidly for everything from the thunderstorm scene where Jessica goes missing to the final dramatic brumby chase scene. Likewise the subwoofer lends itself beautifully during the brumby chase scene.



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

Extras

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Dolby Digital Trailer

    Canyon

dts Trailer

    Piano

Scene Selection Animation & Audio

Featurette -The Man From Snowy River - The Poem

    Want a snapshot of the story in a little under 10 minutes? This is a 9:56 reading of the famous poem in its entirety by actor and singer Frankie J. Holden.  It contains images and highlights taken directly from the film (with a few from Snowy II) all accompanied by the marvellous Bruce Rowland score in full Dolby Digital 5.1. The image looks great and the score sounds brilliant. Frankie J starts off a little slowly and I thought he lacked a little passion in the first few verses, but he soon hits his straps and delivers a rousing rendition of this famous piece of verse.

Featurette - The Making Of The DVD - Restoring The Man

    In a word - superb. This is among the handful of best featurettes I have ever seen on a DVD, and a must view for anyone interested in just how a film image gets turned into a quality looking DVD presentation. What we have here is a 14:58 look at how the restoration of the famous film took place. It is brief, but it is incredibly concise. First up and in a little over three minutes, producer Geoff Burrowes manages to explain the differences between the version of the film only seen on VHS (pan and scan) and the magnificence of this widescreen version. He also offers several example scenes highlighting just why we need everything in widescreen. If there are any doubters out there about the merits of widescreen, or if you are still having trouble convincing someone in your family (my dad still hasn't quite come around), show them this. It will cease any argument forever. There is also a quick look at a $5 million Cinetel DSX Telecine scanner in operation and a look at some of the scenes that benefited from colour balance correction.

    The second half of the featurette is dedicated to the audio soundtrack and the efforts made by SoundFirm in Melbourne in remixing the original soundtrack to full 5.1 surround for both Snowy I and II. The last minute or so is a showreel of some of the best surround sound scenes taken from the action scenes in both films and is a really top quality demonstration sequence.

    The whole featurette is presented in a 16x9 enhanced ratio of 1.78:1 and comes with a crunching Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Gallery-Photo

    There's a couple of dozen photos here, all on-screen style of shots, plus a handful of images of some original promotional material, presented as a slideshow that runs automatically for 3:25. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 that is also 16x9 enhanced. It is also accompanied by sections of the superb score.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is a 1:41 trailer that is shown in the original aspect ratio but is not 16x9 enhanced. The quality of the image here shows just how much effort went into cleaning up the main film.

Trailer

    A 2:26 trailer for The Man From Snowy River II.

R4 vs R1

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

    In another of the great paradoxes of the region coding system, there has been a version of this very Australian film available in Region 1 for quite some time. Until now importing it was the only way to obtain a copy. This new Region 4 release solves that problem and makes no doubt about which version you should look to add to your collection.

    The Region 4 disc misses out on;

    Region 1 disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 transfer is obviously quite different to this fully restored version and though the various reviews I can find online describe it quite favourably, it is hard to imagine it could surpass this excellent Region 4 version. The cracking audio soundtracks on the new Region 4 disc make this selection a complete no-brainer.

Summary

    We don't have many epic films made in Australia - but The Man From Snowy River is one of them. Not an epic in the true definition of sweeping tale set across many generations and locations, but a landmark film that captures the essence of the Australian bush at its best and in all its guises. It is a landmark film for so many reasons and this newly remastered and restored version deserves a place in everyone's collection.

    The video transfer is remarkable. It's not perfect, but the amount of restoration and effort that has gone into making it as good as possible is remarkable and a credit to the restorers.

    The audio selection is led by a dynamite sounding dts soundtrack. It makes the score really sparkle and shine, while the thunder of the brumbies' hooves will rattle the windows. It is probably the best sounding remastered 5.1 soundtrack I have yet heard.

    The quantity of extras are a little disappointing for such an important film, but the 14 minute restoration featurette should be compulsory viewing for all DVD buffs.


...And down by Kosciusko where the pine clad ridges stuff
Their torn and rugged battlements on high
Where the air is clear as crystal and the white stars fairly blaze
At midnight in the cold and frosty sky
And where around the Overflow the reed beds sweep and sway
In the breezes and the rolling plains are wide
The Man from Snowy River is a household word today
And the stockmen tell the story of his ride.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Thursday, April 22, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDLoewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Terry K

Comments (Add)
Region 1 not 16:9?? - NovaDust
Why no documentary on the making of the film? -
Oh My God! A Decent Release From Roadshow That Has EXTRAS!!! - paulisdead (Read my bio...lies all lies!!!)
Go Australia - G-man (read my bio)
No contribution from the stars - REPLY POSTED
neva seen it -
I agree, the sound and pic was excellent! - Pendergast (Why not take a look at my bio, you might think it stinks.)
Director Identity -
Re: Director Identity -
re: Director Identity - Roger T. Ward (Some say he's afraid of the Dutch, and that he's stumped by clouds. All we know, this is his bio.)