Thirteen (2003)

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Released 7-Jul-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Filmmakers And Cast
Featurette-Making Of
Deleted Scenes-With Optional Commentary
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 95:51
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (46:22) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Catherine Hardwicke

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Holly Hunter
Evan Rachel Wood
Nikki Reed
Jeremy Sisto
Brady Corbet
Deborah Unger
Kip Pardue
Sarah Clarke
D.W. Moffett
Vanessa Anne Hudgens
Jenicka Carey
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Mark Mothersbaugh

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 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 Danish
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes, frequent, teenage, not limited to tobacco
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Skechers
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The parents of girls about to enter their teens either must see this, or must avoid it. I'm not sure which.

    Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) is a studious girl, friends with everyone - the classic "nice girl" (but with a secret or two that we learn about slowly). Then she starts high school. She is impressed by the reaction of the boys to Evie Zamora (Nikki Reed). Tracy wants to be more like Evie. Evie is not too impressed at first, but after Tracy steals a purse (which one-ups the shoplifting Evie was doing), she's more accepting. She and Tracy start hanging out together. Evie introduces her to drugs and alcohol (Tracy was already smoking), and to making out with boys. Evie comes across as super-cool and super-confident, but she has problems of her own.

    Tracy's home life isn't great. Her parents are split — either divorced or separated. Her father is too busy to spend time with Tracy and her brother Mason. Her mother, Melanie (Holly Hunter), is a struggling ex-alcoholic with a rehabilitated drug addict boyfriend, Brady (Jeremy Sisto). But her mother does try to give them a decent home, even though she's barely earning a living doing hairdressing at home.

    Tracy and Evie try all sorts of drugs, including marijuana, aerosols, LSD, and even snorting crushed pills of some kind (no injecting, though). Tracy's schoolwork suffers, as do her relationships with everyone but Evie.

    This is not an easy film to watch, but it is compelling. Evan Rachel Wood's performance is superb, and ably supported by Holly Hunter's. Without two top-class actresses in those roles, this film would not have succeeded. Nikki Reed (in her first role) and Jeremy Sisto are excellent, too.

    It would be comforting to think that this is exaggerated, that this sort of thing could never happen to a thirteen year old. But this film is based on a girl's real experiences as a rebellious thirteen year old. Would you be interested in seeing what that 13 year old looked like? Then have a good look at Nikki Reed. She (and director Catherine Hardwicke) wrote this film about her own life (during the commentary Catherine Hardwicke mentions that they began writing it as a way of getting Nikki interesting in something creative, instead of the self-destructive bent she was on).

    The only other film I remember having seen Evan Rachel Wood in was Little Secrets. That's a PG rated, "family" film, and about as utterly different from this film as it might possibly be. So it's quite a contrast to see the same actress in both. Suffice it to say, she's an excellent actress, with a wide range.

    During the commentary they express a hope that parents may watch it with their teenage children, despite its R rating in the US. In Australia, this film is rated MA (it was originally rated R), and it earns that rating with drug use, self-damage, coarse language, and even nudity (of Holly Hunter, not of a teen). Even so, you might want to consider watching it with your children; you should definitely watch it without them first, though.

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Transfer Quality


    This transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced. The original theatrical aspect ratio was 1.85:1 — that's good.

    The film was shot on Super 16 film (they were on a tight budget). To get the look they wanted, they then pushed the film one stop, which pretty much guaranteed constant film grain — it varies from quite light through to rather obvious. To add to the difficulty of assessing the transfer, they then made a digital intermediate of the entire film, and modified the colour saturation — (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) the idea was that the opening portion was deliberately desaturated (they turned the colour down a bit), to emphasise the dullness of Tracy's life, then they ramped up the colour, going into a slightly oversaturated look at the peak of their enjoyment, then dropped the colour away again, almost to monochrome, to echo the bleakness that Tracy was feeling. This makes for effective storytelling, but it makes assessing the transfer more than a little difficult.

    Despite all of this, the image is reasonably sharp, but somewhat lacking in resolution — that's the film grain. Shadow detail is sometimes decent, sometimes poor, but always limited (you get that when you push the film). There's no low-level noise.

    Colour rendering is deliberately distorted. There are no obvious colour-related artefacts.

    There are no film artefacts (other than the film grain) worth mentioning. There's no visible aliasing (hidden by the grain). There's no moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are subtitles in five languages, including English (which are English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles); there are also subtitles in English for the commentary (nice!). I watched most of the English subtitles, and they are easy to read, well-timed to the dialogue, and no more abbreviated than usual. The only thing wrong with the commentary subtitles is that they subtitle some of the dialogue, too, without indicating which subtitles are commentary and which are dialogue — this makes for some confusion.

    The disc is single-sided and dual-layered, formatted RSDL. The layer change is tucked away at 46:22, in a black frame between scenes. On a slow player the black lasts too long, but that's all you can see.

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


    The soundtrack is provided in English, and nothing else. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448kbps.

    The dialogue is generally clear, but there are a couple of lines that don't come across too well. There are no serious audio sync problems.

    The score, which is rather good, is by Mark Mothersbaugh. There are several songs in the soundtrack, including one written specifically for the film, but you won't have heard any of them (the director mentions that they couldn't afford anything anyone had heard).

    The surrounds get nothing significant to do in this soundtrack. The soundtrack is essentially frontal, spread across the mains and centre. The subwoofer provides the deepest register under the music, and maybe the occasional ominous rumble.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is static and silent, with the main menu offering four items in a diamond so you can just press up or down or left or right. Neat.

Featurette — the Making of Thirteen (6:05)

    Basically a long trailer.

Deleted Scenes (9:39)

    A series of short deleted scenes that you can watch individually or one after another, with or without the director's commentary. The most interesting thing about these deleted scenes is that they are included before the digital processing of the colour — it's quite interesting to see what the original colour looks like. The director's commentary isn't very good — basically she just says, over and over, that they removed this scene for pacing.

Commentary — director and cast

    This commentary comes to us courtesy of director (and co-writer) Catherine Hardwicke, actor (and co-writer) Nikki Reed, and actors Evan Rachel Wood and Brady Corbet. It's evident from the beginning (this commentary begins during the opening logos) that they enjoyed working together.

    This is not a highly technical commentary, but they do cover a fair bit of ground.

    I was pleased to hear that the cigarettes we see Evan and Nikki smoking weren't real, but filled with some substitute (they claim it's catnip!).

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 1 DVD was released at the beginning of 2004 (I picked up a copy in February 2004). It's one of those double-sided single layered discs, with a pan-and-scan transfer on one side, and widescreen on the other. The commentary is on both sides. The full-screen side has the making of, and the trailer (2:26 — full of spoilers). The widescreen side has the deleted scenes. The menu is animated with music — it's clear that the menu on the Region 4 disc was derived from the Region 1.

    The Region 1 transfer is quite similar to the Region 4, but it looks a little grainier (probably due to the reduced resolution of NTSC, plus the extra compression needed to fit it into a single layer). I prefer the R4 transfer.

    If you can't live without the full-screen transfer, or the trailer, get the Region 1. Otherwise I recommend getting the Region 4 disc.


    A movie that you appreciate or admire, rather than enjoy, presented rather well on DVD.

    The video quality is quite good, considering that it has been deliberately distorted for effect.

    The audio quality is good enough, albeit rather frontal.

    The extras are interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Wednesday, September 01, 2004
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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