The Notebook (2004)

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Released 7-Feb-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Rain
Audio Commentary-Nick Cassavetes (Director)
Audio Commentary-Nicholas Sparks (Novelist)
Deleted Scenes
Featurette-All In The Family: Nick Cassavetes
Featurette-Nicholas Sparks: A Simple Story, Well Told
Featurette-Southern Exposure: Locating "The Notebook"
Featurette-Casting Rachel And Ryan
Featurette-Rachel McAdams Screen Test
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 118:42
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:35) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Nick Cassavetes
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Ryan Gosling
Rachel McAdams
James Garner
Gena Rowlands
James Marsden
Sam Shepard
David Thornton
Joan Allen
Kevin Connolly
Tim Ivey
Starletta DuPois
Anthony-Michael Q. Thomas
Ed Grady
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $34.95 Music Aaron Zigman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    OK, let's get something out of the way. Yes, this film could certainly be fairly referred to as a 'chick flick' or a weepie or unashamedly romantic. What it cannot be referred to as is a bad film. In fact, this is a very good film, because although it addresses one of the topics that has probably produced more bad films than any other, love and romance, it does it with style, class and restraint.

    The Notebook is based on a novel by young (well, youngish) author Nicholas Sparks who has now had three of his bestselling novels made into films, including A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle. As seems to be the way in Hollywood these days the novel was sold at virtually the same time as the rights for the film. The novel was published in 1996, but it took quite a few more years for the film to appear. The film had a difficult development, going through a number of cast and director changes until settling on the final combination. People attached to the project seem to have included Tom Cruise, Steven Spielberg, Ashley Judd and even Britney Spears! I can't really see that the film would have been improved by the presence of any of those people. It would seem that the story is based on the lives of Nicholas Sparks' wife's grandparents, which is one of the things he discusses in his interesting commentary.

    The story is set in two different times but the same place; 1940s South Carolina and the present day. In the present day, an old man, Duke (James Garner), living in a nursing home, reads from a handwritten notebook to an old woman (Gena Rowlands, who is the director's mother) who seems a little confused and swings wildly from quiet to angry. The story he reads is the one set in the 1940s and features a young man, Noah Calhoun (Ryan Gosling), who lives in a small town called Seabrook, working at the local lumber mill and living with his widowed father, Frank (Sam Shepard). One night at the carnival, he meets Allie Hamilton (Rachel McAdams), a young rich girl from Charleston who is spending her summer in Seabrook at her father's country house. He is immediately attracted to her and after initial resistance gets her to agree to go out with him on a date. As their relationship develops, her mother, Anne (Joan Allen), and father, John (David Thornton), become concerned about how serious it is becoming and decide that she must leave as he is not a suitable match for her. Due to this and other factors they part angrily and do not see each other for many years. Her mother continues to find ways to keep them apart. During the intervening period, he goes to war and then returns to rebuild an old house which they had discussed living in before they were separated. While working as a nurse, she meets and falls in love with a wounded returned serviceman, Lon Hammond (James Marsden), who comes from a wealthy family and asks her to marry him. She agrees but sees a newspaper article about Noah and the house. Will she go back to Noah? Will he accept her? Even if she does, will she stay or return to her husband? How will the story of the old man and woman in the present day be resolved? I think I've said too much already...

    One of the things which really stands out about this film right from the opening credits is how beautiful and lush the cinematography is. This is a truly magnificent film, with many wonderful images. Scenes of sunsets, waterways, quiet evenings and birds all add to this. Going hand in hand with this is the wonderful score by Aaron Zigman, which features a haunting piano based theme. The director, Nick Cassavetes, has certainly made the best film of the four he has made so far, which include She's So Lovely and John Q.

    From an acting perspective, the cast is quite strong and does a good job, especially Ryan Gosling. Personally, I found Rachel McAdams to be a little less believable and a touch prone to overacting. Another real strength of this film is that the heart string tugging ending is handled with restraint and does not lapse into mawkishness.

    This is a romantic film, done well and with restraint. My wife and I enjoyed it and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a romance. You guys out there would do well to consider this next time you are looking for a rental to watch with your wife/girlfriend or having trouble finding a present.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is excellent with just a few minor film-to-video artefacts.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. The shadow detail was excellent.

    The colour was magnificent, perfectly matching the wonderful cinematography. The magnificent colours really shine during the wonderful credit sequence with its dark reds of sunset, pastoral scenes and some great water sequences.

    In terms of artefacts, I noticed some mild aliasing such as on a shirt at 10:48, a fence at 12:03 and blinds at 108:10. There were also some patches of edge enhancement, such as around Duke at 3:35, but these were not too bad. All-in-all there is very little to complain about here.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired only, at least for the film dialogue. Subtitles are also available for both commentaries. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read and extremely close to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 57:35 and it was very well done. I did not notice it whilst watching the film..
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains two audio options, an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s, and an English Dolby Digital 2.0 'stereo surround' soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s.

    Dialogue was generally clear and easy to understand, although some of the accents were difficult and occasionally the dialogue sounded slightly muffled. It is my opinion that this is not a problem with the transfer but rather the original soundtrack. There was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Aaron Zigman was wonderful and included a haunting piano based theme. The song She's De-Lovely by Billie Holliday was also well used.

    The surround speakers added significantly to the atmosphere of the film, especially the music, however there were not many specific surround effects except during the short war sequence.

     The subwoofer did not add too much to the proceedings except during the war sequence.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu included an intro, scenes from the film, music, and the ability to select scenes, languages and subtitles. The menu were nicely designed and in keeping with the nature of the film.

Deleted / Alternate Scenes (27:17)

    A good selection of deleted and alternate scenes, some of which were quite interesting and others which were cut for rather obvious reasons. Included are alternate versions of the two main love scenes without the cuts made to get a PG-13 rating in the US. There is an excellent optional commentary by the editor, Alan Heim, explaining why scenes were cut, the process of editing in general and the way negotiations occur in the US with the ratings board. Well worth listening to for those interested in the filmmaking process even if you don't normally find deleted scenes interesting. The scenes included are:

  1. Allie confronts Noah in the bathroom
  2. Alternate first love scene - without cuts required for PG-13 rating
  3. Fin consoles a drunken Noah
  4. No letters
  5. The new couple
  6. Dad visits Noah on the roof
  7. Allie's return to Seabrook
  8. Catching & preparing dinner
  9. Duke gives house to the kids - Removed because it really spoiled the ending
  10. Allie tries to phone Noah
  11. Alternate second love scene - again without the cuts required for PG-13 rating
  12. The story of The Notebook - more background on how the notebook came into existence which is quite interesting.

Commentary - Director, Nick Cassavetes

    The first twenty minutes of this commentary made me think it was going to be really excellent as he had interesting things to say and seemed to be being quite open, honest and amusing. He pointed out friends of his including his girlfriend and mother and noted some goofs. Unfortunately, as the commentary continued he fell into the 'Everyone was fantastic' trap although notably he didn't say too much in that vein about Rachel McAdams. Topics covered included how he got involved in the project, casting, other people attached to the project previously, locations, crew, the music, editing, shooting difficulties, the story, character development, regrets about the film, censorship and his mother, Gena Rowlands. Generally, this is a pretty good commentary with just a bit too much talking about how great everything and everyone was. I think it would have been better if it had been one commentary by both the Director and the Novelist.

Commentary - Novelist, Nicholas Sparks

    Obviously, this commentary is much more about the story and the inspiration for the book. He also discusses differences between the book and the movie but seems very calm about them, taking it in his stride that a film and a book are different things. Generally speaking, this is a much superior commentary to the previous one. He covers topics including living in the south, the scenery of the Carolinas, his career and background, who the story is based on, the long gestation period of the film, casting, what the south was like in the 1940s, the nature of love and his approach to writing for books and how he takes film into account when writing a novel. Interesting stuff and quite different to most commentaries. Definitely interesting for fans of the book.

All in the Family - Nick Cassavetes (11:40)

    Presented 16x9 enhanced. A featurette on the director and his family including his actor/director father, John, and his mother Gena Rowlands. Mostly it focuses on his approach as a director and includes interview segments with the cast and the director himself. Also includes on-set footage. Worth watching.

Nicholas Sparks - A Simple Story , Well Told (6:38)

    Presented 16x9 enhanced. A featurette focusing on the Novelist, Nicholas Sparks. Includes interviews with the book company executives who published the book and covers how the book got published. Also covers his family life and various family tragedies. Not bad, and certainly of interest to fans of the book.

Southern Exposure : Locating The Notebook (11:34)

    Presented 16x9 enhanced. This is basically a travelogue of all the locations used during the film, such as the various homesteads, old houses, cinemas, plantations and entire small towns. Includes interviews with the location manager and production designer. Pretty good.

Casting : Casting Rachel & Ryan (4:07)

    Presented 16x9 enhanced. Short, moderately uninteresting featurette about casting Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. Includes an interview with the producer.

Casting : Rachel McAdams Screen Test (3:37)

    Presented 16x9 enhanced. The tape of her original audition.

Theatrical Trailer (2:08)

    A good quality trailer.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    On this basis it is really a tie as I don't think anyone will miss an advertisement for the soundtrack. Buy whichever you can get cheaper. The Region 2 is the same as ours.

Summary

    An emotional and well made romance featuring an excellent score and some beautiful cinematography.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The disc has a voluminous set of good quality extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, March 18, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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