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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.
Castle, The: Poolroom Edition (1997)

Castle, The: Poolroom Edition (1997)

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Released 19-Aug-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Main Menu Audio & Animation
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 81:48
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rob Sitch
Working Dog
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Michael Caton
Anne Tenney
Stephen Curry
Anthony Simcoe
Sophie Lee
Wayne Hope
Tiriel Mora
Eric Bana
Charles 'Bud' Tingwell
Robyn Nevin
Costas Kilias
Bryan Dawe
Monty Maizels
Case Village Roadshow New Style
RPI $34.95 Music Edmund Choi
Craig Harnath

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 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

"It’s . . . just the vibe . . of the thing"

    There is a key scene in the classic Australian comedy The Castle where lawyer Dennis Denuto is pleading Daryl Kerrigan’s case in the Federal Court and is so far out of his depth that he starts to refer to the Australian Constitution as a means of defence. Referring to the famous document in a last ditch attempt to prove his point, Dennis, in a moment of pure desperation describes that it is just the ‘vibe’ of the thing rather than a particular section or clause that explains why the government can't legally acquire the Kerrigan house. Of course the bemused judge doesn’t buy it and finds for the respondent. Despite the best efforts of his bumbling lawyer, poor Daryl Kerrigan looks set to lose his home.

    Now this ‘vibe’ still seems very much alive if the comments from The Castle director and co-writer Rob Sitch are anything to go by when I recently spoke to him about the just released DVD of this much-loved Australian classic.

    The release of The Castle on Region 4 DVD in Australia has been a long time coming and when it finally arrived more than a few of us were a little perplexed by just what was being offered. In this day of slick marketing campaigns and equally slicker packaging this release looked good on the outside, but more than a little shoddy on the inside. Sure there was the flamboyantly labelled Poolroom Edition, with its clever pool-table style felt cover and extremely witty Trading Post advertisements on the back. But in reality this was a release which by name promised untold riches of never-before-seen bonus material, laugh-a-minute commentary track and a deluxe widescreen transfer, yet delivered precious little. As we all now know this Poolroom Edition contained less special features than many bare-bones rental releases, albeit with a fancy cover. Worst of all, we were lumped with a video transfer that didn't look a whole lot different to the old VHS cassette release from the late 1990s, including the incorrect aspect ratio of 1.33:1

    So just what was going on here? Surely there exists a wealth of extra material just waiting to be added to a two-disc special edition. What about some photos from the time of the shoot or at the very least a commentary track, the latter of which is something that doesn’t even need any historical material, merely a couple of hours of time for the director and crew. Working Dog, the production company responsible for The Castle, managed it for their other feature film The Dish, so why not this much-loved classic?

    Well, according to director Rob Sitch, when the creative team behind other classics as The D Generation, Frontline, and of course The Castle finally sat down to discuss just how to release the much-loved classic to DVD, there was a fair bit of discussion, debate, and just a little bit of argument on how best to approach it. Something didn’t quite sit right with them about including a whole swag of bonus material, the likes of which are so common in almost all new releases, whether they be current Hollywood blockbusters or 25-year-old art-house classics. Moreover, there is a pretty simple reason he says for why the bonus material is so thin for this new DVD edition. None exists.

    “The thing is, there are no stills, there are no deleted scenes and there is no interview material . . . other than the making-of which was made (and licensed) by Channel 9,” Sitch explains.

    Furthermore, Sitch says there is something about The Castle and its budget origins that means a host of special features may just spoil its feeling.

    “We would only be adding things that would not be sticking to the vibe of the film.”
    Ah, there it is - the vibe. It seems the creative team felt a little uneasy about dressing up a film with fancy bonus material, most of which would be highly contrived, when the 1997 version that everybody loves so much is such a low-budget (and it really was extremely low-budget) and should really stay in that era.

    “We didn’t want to rewrite its place in history,” he says by way of explanation.

    Sitch compares The Castle to some of the films released onto DVD in recent times and says they are just not the same and never will be.

    “I’ve just bought the two-disc release of Master and Commander with all the extras, the stills, the deleted scenes and The Castle just isn’t like this.”
    Many fans would probably not entirely agree with that statement or the one about leaving the film in the era in which it was created. Plenty of classic and not-so-classic films have been afforded some sort of special treatment to bring them into the DVD age and effectively open them up to be appreciated by a whole new audience. In regards to specific extras we can at least understand the lack of quality bonus material if none actually exist. I certainly agree that extras for the sake of extras are a big turn-off. There is nothing worse than wading through a whole raft of horribly contrived and often not very relevant bonus material that has been included merely to pad out the content to a second disc. But what about a commentary track at the very least, or does Sitch consider himself in the mould of super-director Steven Spielberg who refuses to do commentary tracks for any of his films? The suggestion of a similarity to Spielberg brings a wry grin.

    “Spielberg, ha - that’d be about the only place where our careers overlap!” chuckles Sitch.

    “Basically the film is a commentary track. Dale’s narrative is a commentary. Another commentary would only break up the message of the film.”

    Funny, that’s Spielberg’s excuse too.

    So we get no commentary track, which I must admit is extremely disappointing. I know for one I'd love to know just where the famous house at 3 Highview Crescent actually is, how some of the casting decisions were arrived at, and just who came up with the many classic lines of dialogue. Sitch is also quick to point out that because the film was shot so quickly and cheaply that from a purely film-making perspective there is nothing in a technical sense to actually talk about. He also says he has spoken so much about the film in general terms over the last seven years that he doesn't really have anything new to add.

    So while we agree to disagree on the commentary inclusion, what's the point of this fancy packaging?. Packaging that offers much but delivers little.

    Sitch says that the idea of the fancy Poolroom Edition was to include something that was more over-the-top and keeping with the tradition of that special Father’s day gift Daryl Kerrigan would receive and would instantly love before sending it straight to the poolroom. He says that even the simple additions to the packaging like The Trading Post advertisement cut outs and the greyhound family tree caused many arguments before agreement was reached by the team. He's also quick to point out that these additions are most certainly not classed as special features. It's a little funny to hear it from the director, but he seems almost proud of the fact that special bonus material has been avoided. It's more of that vibe thing I think.

    But now the big question. What about the audio and more specifically the video quality? Probably the most upsetting aspect (excuse the pun) for the many diehard fans of The Castle is just that – the aspect, or more correctly – the incorrect aspect ratio.

    Now as many know, The Castle was originally filmed on an ultra-low budget using the indie filmmaker's favourite format - Super 16mm. This format offers the filmmaker an aspect ratio of 1.66:1, which is usually matted down to 1.85:1 for a theatrical release. Now rather than release the film onto DVD with that correct original aspect ratio, as it would have been seen in cinemas in 1997, Working Dog has decided to release it in the exact same format as it has been shown on television countless times and also the same as the VHS release – the old-style format of 1.33:1. Even more odd is the announcement on the back of the packaging that the full frame 1.33:1 transfer is the original theatrical ratio - an obvious mistake.

    As funny as it seems, the impetus for Working Dog to release the film on DVD after such a long wait was the impending death-knell of the VHS format and not the urgent desire to sell a truckload of extras-laden DVDs.

    “We realised that we needed to release a DVD version simply because we were told that nobody was buying VHS anymore and it wasn’t being made,” Sitch explains.

    Now that may be the case, but why, in this day and age when everyone is getting widescreen televisions did we get lumped with the VHS-like full frame 1.33:1 transfer? To make it even worse it was obviously struck from the same source as the VHS tape which was originally a theatrical release print given the appearance of reel change markings a couple of times throughout. The answer is somewhat surprising and probably the first pointer to Working Dog perhaps misreading their intended audience's desire and the popularity of widescreen transfers whenever possible.

    "The ratio of people that have only seen it like this (the 1.33:1 aspect) is something like ten to one," Sitch says by way of explanation. It would seem that the idea to release it in widescreen was never even considered by Working Dog. Somewhat surprisingly, Sitch is a little light on the technical details. He says that the video transfer they have given the title is the best they could manage, and given that the film was pretty low quality to start with they didn't think it would matter releasing a virtual copy of the VHS release. As to the existence of a proper 1.85:1 interpositive from which to source a new print, it was unable to be confirmed whether one exists or not.

    One thing that the Region 4 disc does get the benefit of is a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Originally recorded and mastered in stereo, the new mix was done locally and holds up rather well - not that the director or Working Dog is making a big song and dance about it.

    “The audio was remixed (to Dolby Digital 5.1) but even then we didn’t overly advertise the fact on the packaging.”

    For the die-hard fans, the full screen Region 4 release is probably all that more difficult to accept because of the existence of a Region 1 version that features the film in its correct aspect ratio. Of course one of the great paradoxes of the modern DVD age has been the fact that a copy of this most Australian of films has been available in Region 1 for several years while Australian consumers were forced to wait and be content with their VHS copies.

    “Well that was outside our control, and was always going to happen” Sitch explains, since Miramax bought the US rights for the film several years ago and can effectively do what they want with it. Obviously the source print for their version is also outside the control and budget of Working Dog. It's also been changed to suit the American market (see R4 v R1 for more details) and is most likely not suitable for Australia.

     As funny as it may seem to us film fans, I got the impression that the director doesn't have as high an opinion of The Castle as the many thousands of fans do. Sure it was his first feature and more than a little rough around the edges, but we love it just the same. Perhaps he is a little embarrassed by it and just wants to let it stay as part of Australian cinematic history  – or perhaps he’s just being modest.

    Well hopefully this isn't the end of the story in respect to the video quality and extras. We have decided to set up an online petition for the many thousands of fans to sign, so we can present it to Working Dog with the hope that they may see the light, put a little bit of restoration effort in and release a special edition DVD of this much loved and highly regarded film.

    So enough of the ramble about the DVD and its creation, what about the plot synopsis for those that have no idea what this film is about? Well, for the few dozen people in the country that aren't familiar with this charming and much-loved tale here is a quick run down on just what it is all about, why I love it so much and just why I have spent the better part of the last week compiling the above article.

    After the success of the satirical television series Frontline in 1993-1996, the creative team from that series and other classics such as The Late Show decided to branch out into a feature film. Self-funded by the team who would eventually form the Working Dog production company, The Castle was conceived and written in two weeks, shot in 11 days and made ready for distribution in just five weeks.

    It is a simple story of a simple family and their battle against big business and government. Narrated by the youngest son Dale (Stephen Curry), it is the story of the Kerrigan family. The Kerrigans are the sort of working class family that we all like to make fun of and the sort of family that at first glance we are glad we are not part of. They are not very intelligent, sophisticated or classy, and live in a house that is right next door to a major airport with all its noise and ugliness. Their home is a ramshackle assortment of contrasting styles and half-finished ideas and part of their backyard is a lead tainted landfill site.

    But just a few minutes in to the story we get the idea that this is a family that loves each other and will stick together no matter what hurdles are thrown up in front of them. This love and affection for each other is by far their greatest asset. The father and undisputed leader of the family is Darryl Kerrigan (Michael Caton), who is working class from his moccasins upwards. A tow truck driver by day and part time greyhound racer he knows exactly where his place in the world is. He never forgets those around him and without fail complements wife Sal's (Anne Tenney) cooking every night, despite it almost always being the plainest of fare available. Their kids are an odd assortment. Eldest son Wayne (Wayne Hope) is in jail for armed robbery, but the family are still proud of him anyway. Second son Steve (Anthony Simcoe) spends most of his day reading ads from the Trading Post, while daughter Tracey (Sophie Lee) is the only member of the family with a tertiary education (she's a hairdresser). Dale is the youngest and it's his beautifully delivered narration which sets up the story.

    The Kerrigans live what they consider to be the ideal existence at 3 Highview Cr Coolaroo, until one day when they learn that the airport next door is expanding and their home and the others in the street are in the way. It is to be compulsorily acquired by the government with the Kerrigans to be compensated for their house. Of course Darryl doesn't want to move and so he enlists the help of small time lawyer Dennis Denuto (Tiriel Mora) to come to his defence. But big business and government don't like interruptions to their plans and bring out the big guns to force the Kerrigans out. Will the little Aussie battler lose out to big business again or did they select the wrong man to pick a fight with? It looks like this battle could go all the way to the High Court of Australia.

    The Castle became the highest grossing Australian release of 1997, going on to notch up some $10 million in box office takings - a massive amount in this country and not bad for a film which reportedly cost less than $800,000 to make. As Sitch has previously said, the film would live and die by its script and performances. With no special effects, no kung-fu, no camera movement and not even a particularly attractive location, it was the simple story that audiences found most refreshing. And simple it is. A classic David and Goliath story, you just know how it's going to end only a few minutes after its started, but the journey getting there is filled with laughs, warmth and some memorably eccentric characters with some wonderfully memorable lines.

    One of the things I've always loved about this film (besides being a bloody good laugh) is that we can instantly see bits of ourselves in all of the Kerrigans despite the fact we probably wouldn't at first admit it. How many times have you spoken with some authority about a plane trip, as if you are the only one who understands the intricacies of overseas travel or wondered just what a Queen's Counsel is other than a lawyer that rich people use? As Rob Sitch has said in a previous interview with George Negus on GNT, modern life makes you think there is a perfection that everybody must aspire to - collecting all manner of possessions and pretending to be better than the man next door. In some way he said The Castle says "Relax. We're all 20 per cent dill, and 20 per cent unsophisticated, but if your heart's in the right spot ultimately that's what wins. It's OK to be the dill down the street occasionally."

    Also speaking on GNT, Sitch said one of the things that he likes about the Kerrigans and the character of Darryl in particular is the expression of confidence in what he likes, what he celebrates, and what means something to him. Sitch says that sophistication is a false god. We think we are smart by how well we might claim to know opera, but at the end of the day the only thing that really matters is family and friends. Darryl Kerrigan doesn't need to prove himself with any of these false pretences. He knows what he wants - he's got virtually everything he needs - and he is content with his life. The rest of us may initially laugh and mock him for being a simpleton, but at the end of the day - the joke's on us.

    A lot of reviewers (the sophisticated ones anyway) sneered at this film when it was first released. Many claimed it mocked the working class with some heavy handed and none-too-subtle satire. But they missed the point. It's told with such endearment and love for the family that it could never be classed as taking the mickey.

    As one recent reviewer so eloquently put it, The Castle gently takes the p*** but doesn't forget to flush.

    A true classic of Australian comedy and one that is difficult to tire of. See it now if you haven't already.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    While we can almost live with the lack of extras, the video transfer afforded this much-loved local release is easily the biggest disappointment of the DVD year. It is also the area which has most upset fans.

    The Castle was originally filmed using an ultra-budget Super16mm camera which produces a film negative with an aspect ratio of 1.66:1. It was then matted down from this ratio to 1.85:1 for its theatrical run in 1997. The original VHS release (and subsequent television version) featured a print that had the mattes opened top and bottom, gaining some screen area that was not seen theatrically, but also cropped slightly left and right, thereby losing some screen information on the left and right. It should be noted at this point that the 1.33:1 Region 4 version is not really a pan and scan transfer. The pan and scan process is usually reserved for films that feature a significant amount of action that fills the full width of the widescreen frame almost to the very edges and panning is needed to see everything (or occasionally it just gets edited with a double shot or just completely left out). With the Region 4 disc we've gained a little on the top and bottom and lost some from the left and right, but it should always be remembered that the style of the film is such that nothing overly important is contained around the extreme edges of any of the four sides of the frame. Almost all of the action takes place in the 4:3 ratio television 'safe area' and as a result the 1.33:1 version doesn't actually miss anything major in terms of artistic content. It is certainly more of a annoyance than anything for those of us with widescreen televisions or projectors in that we can't see the film as it was shown in cinemas.

    We've taken several screen captures of a few scenes from both the new Region 4 disc and the existing Region 1 disc to show you just what some of the differences are between the 'correct' aspect and the 1.33:1 version. Interestingly, while several scenes on the Region 4 disc obviously miss out on some minor screen information (compare the first two examples below), some scenes actually benefit from the full frame aspect (compare the last courtroom scene).

Region 4 Poolroom Edition  - 18:46
Obviously part of Steve's arm and Darryl's hand is missing
Region 1 - 19:44
Most of Steve's arm and all of Darryl's hand is visible

Region 4 Poolroom Edition - 75:42
This is among the most obvious shots in the Region 4 release that is compromised by the 1.33:1 aspect ratio
Region 1 - 76:39
The same scene on the Region 1 disc and you are easily able to read the full title

Region 4 Poolroom Edition - 52:34
This scene shows the benefits of the 1.33:1 aspect. Note there is no annoying empty space to the left of Darryl and you are able to see all of Dennis' head
Region 1 52:33
The same scene on the Region 1 disc and there is an ugly empty space next to Darryl and part of Dennis' head is missing

   The overall video clarity of this new Region 4 disc is not great, but it is certainly better than the old VHS version. Shadow detail thankfully doesn't suffer, though grain is pretty much everywhere, a legacy of using the Super 16mm process and having to blow the negative up considerably to make a worthwhile theatrical print. There is no low level noise.

    Colours are rich enough, though overall are best described as average. I don't think we expect great dollops of Technicolor and we don't get them.

    Thankfully there are no compression artefacts and film-to-video glitches such as aliasing are not present. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for film artefacts. It would instantly appear from even the most casual of glances that the source print used for this transfer was at one time a theatrical print given the appearance of reel change markings (32:29) and other splotches, nicks, scratches, and the odd hair or two.

    Thankfully we get some subtitles. They are in English only and are of the hard of hearing variety. Though not 100 per cent accurate they do the job and are a major improvement over the laughable version that graces the Region 1 disc.

    An 82 minute film and no extras equals a single sided and single layered disc only. Therefore there is no layer change.

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


    Somewhat surprisingly, given the nature of the video presentation and the distinct lack of effort towards a major restoration effort, the audio has enjoyed a bit of a rework and has scrubbed up quite well. Without much fanfare on the packaging (deliberate remember according to the director) we are treated to a remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a more conventional Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a pretty engaging effort with lots of front speaker separation and heaps of rear channel use when required. The several scenes where planes fly over the house make use of all speakers including the subwoofer.

    Dialogue has been well reproduced and there are no audio sync problems.

    The music is as simple as the story. There are a few songs throughout and that's pretty much it. Paul Kelly's Take Your Time, Kate Cebrano's take on We've Only Just Begun over the end credits are among the highlights.

    As mentioned I was quite taken aback by the quantity and quality of the surround channel use on offer from the Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Aircraft aplenty and the classic Bonnie Doon scene where the bug zapper is going crazy are probably the highlights of the surround channel use.

    Before I'd seen this disc, if you'd asked me to name some scenes where the subwoofer would be used in this film, I'd probably be battling to name any. But like the surround channels, the subwoofer gets a workout on a few occasions and a couple of them are absolute rippers. It's mostly when the aircraft are flying over the top of the Kerrigan's house and whenever it does crank in it offers supremely powerful and quite sustained low end activity. As mentioned above, this soundtrack remaster is a real credit to the team that worked on it.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio & Animation

    These are nice menus for sure - but that's it. Unless of course you count the Trading Post advertisement cut outs, the greyhound family tree, and the song sheet for We're going to Bonnie Doon (which apparently had to be written professionally by a musicologist!). All of these 'extras' appear on the foldout cardboard sleeve in the packaging.

R4 vs R1

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

    We could have gone for the easy option here and said that because there is a Region 1 version with a proper 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced video transfer that also features a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and even a bonus trailer, it's an easy win to that release. But that's a bit of a cop out since it contains some rather interesting differences which need to be discussed properly. As a result of these differences making the decision to pick one disc as an outright winner is not quite as easy as first thought.

    As mentioned, one of the great paradoxes of region coding has been the availability of The Castle in Region 1 since late 1999, while fans here in the film's country of origin have had to sit and make do with old VHS copies. I have been sorely tempted on many occasions to hand over the cash and import the Region 1 version but for a couple of small concerns. For those that don't know, when Miramax bought the rights to the film for its North American release, they insisted on a few small tweaks. These tweaks were mostly dialogue based and meant subtle changes to either Americanise or internationalise some of the quaint or more mysterious Australian colloquialisms. Some of the more well known changes include 'rissole' becoming 'meatloaf' and 'Hey Hey It's Saturday' becoming 'Funniest Home Videos'. These new loops of dialogue were recorded by the original cast and inserted over the top of the old ones.

Region 4 - 11:18
Region 1 - 11:59

    Other dialogue changes include;

    cladding changed to siding when Darryl is talking about the house to Sal
    never got up changed to never took off when Dale is explaining the history of their street
    tertiary education changed to college education when Dale is talking about Tracey and her hairdressing
    petrol station changed to gas station when Dale is discussing Wayne in prison
    cubby house changed to tree house when Darryl is talking with the council valuer
    granny flat changed to another room (don't they look after their grans in the US?) when Darryl is talking with the council valuer
    Council changed to county when Darryl is talking with the council valuer
    caravan changed to mobile home when Dale is talking about Bonnie Doon
    eskies changed to coolers when Steve is reading from the Trading Post
    trolley changed to baggage cart when the family collects Tracey and Con from the airport
    flash changed to hot when Coco and Steve are seasick at Bonnie Doon
    two stroke changed to diesel when Darryl is standing on the porch at Bonnie Doon
    punnet changed to tub when the family is eating ice cream
    Camira changed to Corolla when Darryl asks Steve to move the cars.

    and there's a few others scattered throughout.

    Unfortunately the quality of these dubbed lines is not great with a subtle difference in the inflection of many words. They stick out like sore thumbs and are instantly recognisable to anyone who is even only slightly intimate with the film. Moreover, and certainly more importantly I felt these changes removed some of the soul of the film. To me, they took away some of the very essence that made it the charming and affectionate look at battling suburban life in Australia. Even after countless screenings of the proper version I still crack up when I hear the line about the only thing dad thinking better than Hey Hey It's Saturday was The Best Of Hey Hey It's Saturday. It just doesn't generate the same laughs when it's substituted with Funny Home Videos.

    But these lines of dialogue are not the only differences between the two discs and there's a couple of other changes in the Region 1 version that should also be noted. Just as off-putting as the changed dialogue is the use of different songs. Different ones have been used in place of some of the originals while many scenes feature completely new songs where originally there were none. When Darryl Kerrigan is walking from the council offices to see his lawyer for the first time, the song originally played is Paul Kelly's pensive Take Your Time. In the Region 1 version it is the far more upbeat Hold Your Head Up by Argent. Moreover some scenes have songs added where none existed before. When Steve is showing Darryl his motorcycle helmet with the tail light built into it, the original film had no music, whereas the Region 1 version features Free's All Right Now playing in the background.

    Another major difference is the shortening of a couple of scenes. Whole chunks of scenes that feature some very funny moments have simply been chopped from the Region 1 version. For some reason the scenes that cop the most change are those when the Kerrigans travel up to Bonnie Doon for the weekend. The Region 1 version loses part of the scene where Daryl shows Dale and Steve how the Shakespeare Ugly Stick fishing rod can bend around on itself. Also chopped is the scene where Tracey is doing Sal's hair. The lines where she is talking about microwave Jenny and fake flowers is missing. A few minutes later the scenes where the family is having dinner and Tracey tells Sal about the satays available in Thailand and when Con tells Steve about the Walkman with presets are both absent.

    Lastly, one of the funnier differences are the awfully inaccurate English subtitles on the Region 1 disc. The Price is Right host Larry Emdur has suddenly become Larry Emdier in a set of subtitles that are truly scary. Errors of grammar, spelling, and accuracy abound on a regular basis. For example 'How's the serenity' has become 'Ours is serenity' and 'Sydney' is spelt 'Sidney'!

     So in summary;

    The Region 4 Poolroom Edition disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 disc misses out on;

    So who wins? At first glance it's a tough choice. The Region 4 packaging is lovely and really is straight-to-the-poolroom material. The audio is solid and robust and more importantly features the correct film audio recording as originally intended. The big downer is the quality of the video transfer, which is pretty ordinary and a major let down. The Region 1 print is much cleaner, certainly not as grainy, but is also a fair bit darker and softer. The biggest mark against the Region 1 version for Australian consumers though is the altered dialogue, the modified songs, and the edited scenes. It is for these latter reasons that I cannot justify recommending the Region 1 as the version of choice. It is simply not the film that we all know and love.

    The verdict. For now stick with this new Region 4 disc. It might not be quite the right aspect ratio, but the audio is accurate and from an artistic viewpoint the whole film is intact.

    One thing I would recommend is waiting a while and trying to pick it up for less than $25, because at $35, Roadshow really are dreaming!

    Of course maybe that's all part of the vibe as well.


    There is little doubt that The Castle is one of the most charming, witty, and loved Australian films ever made. It is a testament to the quality of the writing that a film which was shot in 11 days on a budget of less than $800,000 can be so memorable virtually to the point of becoming a national icon, with lines of dialogue that have entered into the national vernacular. It is a warm and affectionate tale dealing with what it means to be an Aussie battler in the suburbs coupled with the love that one family can have for each other no matter what hurdles life puts up in front of them.

    The Region 4 version of this film has been a long time coming and unfortunately the overall quality of this special Poolroom Edition DVD is a little lacking. The packaging looks great. But that's it - there is nothing else.

    The audio has been remastered to Dolby Digital 5.1 and is surprisingly robust, clean, and quite powerful. But it is the video transfer which is the major disappointment - probably my biggest DVD disappointment of the year in fact. Recycled from the same master as the old VHS version, it is filled with artefacts and worse still is presented in the incorrect format of 1.33:1.

    Please sign our petition. We hope to get Working Dog to change their mind and release a properly specified collector's edition with 16x9 enhanced widescreen video transfer and maybe even a commentary track. This release just doesn't do full justice to such a treasured film and if Darryl Kerrigan were looking to buy it he'd say just one thing . . .

    "Tell him he's dreamin' . . . "

Ratings (out of 5)


© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, October 01, 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

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