The Rose (1979)

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Released 24-Jan-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Audio Commentary-Mark Rydell (Director)
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1979
Running Time 128:54
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:00) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mark Rydell

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Bette Midler
Alan Bates
Frederic Forrest
Harry Dean Stanton
Barry Primus
David Keith
Sandra McCabe
Case ?
RPI $24.95 Music Amanda McBroom
Paul A. Rothchild

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 4.1 L-C-R-S-Sub (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (96Kb/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 Croatian
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

    This film came out in 1979 (I saw it in 1980 when it got to Australia). It's set in the late 60s / early 70s, and shows it in the clothes, and most definitely in the hair. Oh, and in the odd "we don't serve hippies" attitude in the diner.

    This is the story of the fall of a rock singer, The Rose (Bette Midler — I don't think any other actress/singer could have pulled off this role — she deserved her Oscar nomination for this role). As the film opens she is at a peak in popularity, and in the middle of a big concert tour. Her manager/promoter Rudge (Alan Bates — a good performance), watches her stagger down the aircraft stairs, too drunk to maintain her balance. She tells him that she wants to take a year off after the concert in Florida. He tells her that is impossible.

    She is seriously messed up, mostly by alcohol and fatigue. She has stopped taking drugs - she even boasts that she's been clean so long the scars have healed. That's not completely true — the physical scars may be gone, but the emotional and psychological ones remain.

    Through the course of the film we see her belt out several songs. The Rose's musical style is histrionic, but effective: she looks something like Mick Jagger, even though the character was originally based on Janis Joplin (they started with Janis Joplin, but moved away during development — the director didn't want to be bound to the story of Joplin's life).

    This film leads up to the climax: her concert in Florida. This is special to her because it's where she grew up — she has been wanting to go home and show off to her childhood surroundings, to emphasise how she far she's come.

    The director makes a point that all the concert footage was shot under concert conditions, with thousands of extras, nine cameras, and the atmosphere of a real concert. It produces a level of realism that would be hard to produce under normal conditions. I have to say, though, that the song I like the best is the only exception: the song over the closing credits, The Rose (not surprising that it won a Golden Globe for Amanda McBroom). That's possibly because Bette Midler was able to give it full power, without acting the fatigue. That's not to denigrate her performances — she gives it everything and then some, but The Rose is tired, so very tired, and she shows this.

    Although this is a simple story, and a sad one, it's made into effective film by the performances. It may be 25 years old, but it holds up well today.

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Transfer Quality


    This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced. That's the original theatrical aspect ratio: no complaints.

    There was a problem in the 1970s. There were some new film stocks around, and some good films were shot on them. Unfortunately, these new film stocks proved not to last very well. I've commented on this in reviewing other films from this era — it's a sad thing.

    The picture is softened by what looks like film grain — have a look at the opening credits, and around 12:40, 41:13, 100:47, and especially 114:16 — those moments are especially grainy, and look like there's some low-level video noise, as well. Shadow detail is not very good, either.

    Colour is surprisingly well rendered. I'd have expected the colour to be washed out, given the other problems in the film, but instead there are plenty of examples of vivid colours that are captured fairly well; there is some minor muting of the colours, but it's small. There is no colour bleed (surprising, considering the concert lighting), and no other colour-related artefacts.

    There are film artefacts, but fewer than you might expect (looks like the master has been carefully stored and nurtured). The most common film artefacts are black marks, and white flecks. Still, they are small and not disturbing.

    There is relatively little aliasing. There's no shimmer, and no moiré. There are no MPEG artefacts.

    There are subtitles in thirteen languages. The English subtitles are labelled "English for the Hearing Impaired", but they don't seem to show the kinds of sound cues you'd expect for that. Nonetheless, they are easy to read, reasonably well-timed, and fairly accurate — they even include all of the coarse language. And they have subtitled the songs, which I like.

    The disc is single sided, dual layer, formatted RSDL. The layer change is at 50:00. It's invisible, being placed exactly at a scene change to a scene that starts with a moment of silent stillness — perfect!

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


    There are two audio tracks on this disc. The first is the soundtrack, an unusual 4.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack in English, running at 384kbps. This 4.1 track is LCRS, with left, centre, and right fronts, and mono surrounds (the same track in both surround speakers). The second audio track is the director's audio commentary, in Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono) at 96kbps.

    The dialogue is mostly easy to understand, although a couple of lines from Bette Midler during concerts are drowned out, and her voice gets a bit hard to understand during moments of intense emotion. I didn't notice any slips in audio sync.

    The score is not credited to an individual composer, and that's understandable, because virtually all of the music is songs from various artists (all of them credited, song by song). Music supervisor Paul A. Rothchild has done an excellent job of selecting and obtaining songs that fit well with the character.

    The surround speakers get a single signal. It provides some ambience, but it's not a surround extravaganza — this soundtrack concentrates on the front soundstage (not surprising, given the concert environment). The subwoofer is not used significantly, but it isn't missed, 'cause there aren't any explosions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are only two extras, and one of them is kinda hidden.


    The menu is static and silent.

Theatrical Trailer (3:35)

    A long trailer, but nothing special, although it is, unusually, presented with 16x9 enhancement.

Audio Commentary: director Mark Rydell

    This is not at all obvious. You look at the main menu and see:

    And you think: oh, just a trailer as extra, right? However, if you take a peek at the Language Selection menu you discover that the two audio "languages" offered include an audio commentary...

    This is not a bad commentary, although there are lots of gaps in it. Mark Rydell admits that he falls silent to listen to Bette Midler sing, but he also stops to listen to some of the dialogue. He does provide a fair bit of background information, but he expresses lots of admiration, especially for Bette Midler's first starring role.

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 release of this film is quite similar to the Region 4. It has the Dolby Digital 4.1 soundtrack as its main audio, it includes the commentary, but it also has a French soundtrack. It offers just English and Spanish subtitles.

    The Region 1 disc is reported to be single layer, which would mean that it was probably more compressed than the R4. That would not help video that's already impaired by grain.

    The Region 2 disc is, by all reports, identical to this one (given that this disc is coded for regions 2 and 4, that's not surprising).

    At a guess, I'd suspect that the Region 4 would be better, because it's spread over two layers, and therefore doesn't need to be as compressed.


    An excellent movie, showing the decline and fall of a self-destructive rock singer (loosely based on Janis Joplin), given a fairly basic transfer to DVD.

    The video quality is not very good, looking like a film badly in need of restoration.

    The audio quality is adequate, but nothing more. Beware that there is some very coarse language.

    There are two extras: an ordinary trailer, and my favourite extra: a director's commentary.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Thursday, December 23, 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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