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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
The Education of Little Tree (1997)

The Education of Little Tree (1997)

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Released 4-May-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 111:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (63:10) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Richard Friedenberg

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring James Cromwell
Tantoo Cardinal
Joseph Ashton
Mika Boorem
Christopher Heyerdahl
Christopher Fennell
Graham Greene
Leni Parker
Rebecca Dewey
Bill Rowat
Robert Daviau
Norris Domingue
Mark Jeffrey Miller
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Mark Isham

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

     There's a curious phenomenon in the literary world - that of the autobiographical fake. In recent times there have been some notable examples - Helen Darville/Demidenko's The Hand That Signed The Paper caused a furore when it won the Miles Franklin Award; Binjamin Wilkomirski, author of Fragments - an account of the horrors of war time in the concentration camps turned out to be Bruno Dösseker, a Swiss musician who'd never set foot out of Switzerland. The exposure of such fraud always causes intense uproar - the public feels duped and disenfranchised, and probably deservedly so. In 1976 a tender, heart rending tale, The Education of Little Tree was released. Its author, Forrest Carter told the story of his life as a Cherokee boy fighting the inherent racism of his 1930's Appalachian community. Except that Forrest Carter was actually Asa (Ace) Earl Carter - a formerly active Ku Klux Klansman, who was categorically not orphaned at a young age, nor was he raised by his grandparents. Whether it was written as some form of atonement by the hard-drinking, hard-line Carter will eternally be up for debate, but the Canadian production company Allied Films put the revered Earl Hamner Jr at the helm of the film writing project, and created a story of genuine warmth and pathos. No one would be more qualified than Hamner to write the screenplay - he was the author of Spencer's Mountain, and later the principal screenwriter for The Waltons and that same homespun warmth is drawn into this production.

     Largely filmed in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountain ranges, this is a warm little gem about Little Tree (Joseph Ashton), an eight year old boy of part Cherokee descent. Having tragically become an orphan, he is taken into the Smoky Mountain home of his white Granpa (James Cromwell), and his Cherokee Granma (Tantoo Cardinal), and comes to learn the First American "Ways." But his starched white Aunt Martha (Leni Parker) is scandalised that Little Tree is being brought up "Indian" and involved in Granpa's moonshining operations. She reports to The Law that he is not being appropriately educated, and he is wrenched from the mountains to a sentence of boarding school until he is 18. Needless to say, Little Tree is distraught by this attempt at "assimilation" and searches the night sky for the dog star that reassures him his Granma and Granpa are out there watching over him. All he wants is to return to his mountain home, and his special friends Willow John (Graham Greene) and the little girl (Mika Boorem). There are life lessons aplenty for young Little Tree as he comes to terms with loss and life, and learns to accept himself for who he truly is.

     The cinematography is absolutely beautiful in this presentation, and the performances are pleasingly low key and convincing. Young Joseph Ashton collected a Young Artist Award for his portrayal of Little Tree, and James Cromwell, Tantoo Cardinal and Graham Greene all manage to avoid the minefield of stereotypes to deliver well-fleshed and dignified characters. In a blockbuster movie world, such gentle, delicate little gems are frequently passed over, but this is a charming and engaging film that deserves an audience for the charming piece of fiction that it is.

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Transfer Quality


     The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.75:1 16x9 enhanced, which is opposed to its 1.85:1 origins.

     This is a very good transfer although the contrast is slightly flat. Grain levels are acceptably low and there is no low level noise.

     The colours are subtle and at times appear to be rendered a little flatly. The photography is idyllic and it has been generally treated well in the transfer.

     This presentation is largely artefact free.

     The subtitles are excellent - clean, clear, easy to read and accurate.

     This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change at 63:10. It is a clean change, with no distractions.

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


     The soundtrack is delivered in English Dolby Digital 5.1, German Dolby Digital 2.0, French Dolby Digital 2.0 and Italian Dolby Digital 2.0.

      The dialogue is lovely and crisp and there are no audio sync problems in evidence.

      The original music is by Mark Isham and it is warm, sentimental and utterly appropriate.

      The use of surround sound is minimal, apart from the occasional burst of bird song in the back speakers, and subwoofer activity is virtually nonexistent.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



     The menu is static and silent.

R4 vs R1

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

      There appear to be no differences between the R1 and R4 versions, so the PAL presentation wins for me.


     Despite the dubious credentials of the original source material, this has been turned into a film of considerable charm. It is easy to watch and can be truly described as family fare.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Mirella Roche-Parker (read my bio)
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDSinger SGD-001, using S-Video output
DisplayTeac 76cm Widescreen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationTeac 5.1 integrated system
Speakers fronts-paradigm titans, centre &rear Sony - radio parts subbie

Other Reviews NONE