A Simple Twist of Fate (1994)

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Released 19-Nov-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 102:01
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Gillies MacKinnon

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Steve Martin
Gabriel Byrne
Laura Linney
Catherine O'Hara
Alana Austin
Alyssa Austin
Alaina Mobley
Callie Mobley
Victoria Evans
Elizabeth Evans
Stephen Baldwin
Byron Jennings
Michael Des Barres
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Cliff Eidelman

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Spanish Titling
French Titling
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    A Simple Twist of Fate is loosely based on George Eliot's novel Silas Marner and in this case has been adapted by Steve Martin. Silas Marner has been made into a movie several times as well as serving as the basis for many more movies under a variety of titles as well as for a couple of television mini-series.

    In this execution we have Michael McCann (Steve Martin) as the Silas Marner of the piece. He has left his wife and daughter behind upon discovering that his daughter is not his own and now lives a hermit existence in a small town where his sole pleasure is to be found in his collection of gold coins which he finances by the sale of his hand-made pieces of furniture. That is until in short order his coins are stolen and an orphaned baby turns up one freezing winter night on his doorstep. You get no prizes for guessing that the baby, soon renamed Mathilda (played by various actors as she ages including Alana & Alyssa Austin), melts McCann's frozen heart and he sets out to be a father, although a somewhat eccentric one, to her. I don't want to give too much away here other than to say there is more to this baby's antecedents than might be initially expected and we soon have the local political candidate John Newland (Gabriel Byrne) and his wife Nancy (Laura Linney) trying to formally adopt the child.

    This film is not going to challenge you in any way and is therefore best keep for a lazy night when you've got nothing better to watch. If your tear ducts need cleaning and you can bring yourself to a point where you are sufficiently emotionally involved with the characters and story then this one might just do the trick for you. That said, Steve Martin provides a respectable and reasonably restrained performance. Gabriel Byrne does a good job of a politician in need of a morals upgrade.

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Transfer Quality


    There are no significant problems with this transfer which overall I would class as very good.

     This transfer is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    There is some slight variation in the sharpness but overall it is quite acceptable. There are also no issues with shadow detail which was very good. No  low level noise was evident.

    This movie utilises a full colour palette and I'm happy to say that it has been faithfully captured in the transfer and is accurately rendered on the screen without any sign of colour bleeding. Skin tones were also quite natural.

    Compression artefacts were absent. The only significant film artefact in this very clean transfer was a white blob at 19:03. Some grain is evident.

    I sampled about 10 minutes worth of the English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles and found them to be almost word perfect. They were easy to read being displayed in white near the bottom of the picture. If English is not your language of choice then are plenty of subtitle options to choose from.

    The packaging proclaims this to be a dual layered disc, however this is incorrect. It is actually a single layered disc and consequently there is no layer change..

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


    There were no shortcomings in the quality of the audio transfer which I found to be excellent.

    I listened to the English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded audio. French and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks are also provided. There is no default audio track but rather the first menu that appears lists all the audio and subtitle tracks for you to choose from.

    I found the dialogue to be perfectly clear at all times and there didn't seem to be any problems with the audio sync.

    The original music, which was scored by Cliff Eidelman, was fairly low key and to be honest I didn't find it in any way memorable.

    The surround channels don't have a significant part to play with their main contribution being to support the musical score.

    There wasn't much call for the subwoofer, however, on the few occasions on which it was needed it provided powerful underscoring of the on-screen action.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras on this disc, folks.


    The menu is displayed in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. Neither animation nor audio has been provided.

R4 vs R1

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

   Except for the inclusion of a Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track on the Region 4 version and differences in subtitle options, the Region 4 and Region 1 discs appear effectively the same with no compelling reason to select one over the other.


    A Simple Twist of Fate is a simple moral tale which is well told in this movie. While Steve Martin puts in a respectable effort it's a long way from his finest work.

    The video quality was very good while the audio quality was excellent.

    Extras? What extras? I couldn't find any on this title.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Cole (Surely you've got something better to do than read my bio)
Saturday, May 29, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-655A [SACD & DVD-A], using Component 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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