Peter Weir Short Film Collection

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 16-Mar-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary
Gallery-"Homesdale" Stills
Trailer-Picnic At Hanging Rock, Greencard
Trailer-The Cars That Ate Paris/The Plumber
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production ?
Running Time 99:43 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Peter Weir
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Grahame Bond
Kate Fitzpatrick
Matthew Burton
Geoff Malone
Peter Weir
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Various


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Pan & Scan English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

   Peter Weir's career began in the mid-sixties when soon after leaving university, he joined television station ATN-7 in Sydney. He worked as a production assistant on the comedy program, The Mavis Bramston Show. He also made two short experimental films during this period, Count Vim's Last Exercise 1967 and The Life and Flight of Reverend Buckshotte 1968.
  
   He then joined The Australian Commonwealth Film Unit, which is now Film Australia. He made several documentaries during this time, including one of the featured short films on this DVD, Three Directions In Australian Pop Music. While making films for the unit, he began work on his first major solo project, Homesdale . This was made with the support of The Experimental Film and Television Fund, which was a fund initiated by the federal government. The film was later purchased by a major Australian television network.
  
   Weir then went on to work as a writer on the successful ABC-TV comedy series The Aunty Jack Show. This gave him the opportunity to again work with friends Grahame Bond and Rory O'Donoghue. Both had been involved with Homesdale and Bond, also with Three To Go: Michael.
 
  Peter Weir's first feature film, The Cars That Ate Paris (1973), was very successful on release and still enjoys cult status today. But it was Weir's second feature, Picnic At Hanging Rock (1975), that truly introduced this filmmaker to the world. Over the years, this haunting and timeless film has become an undisputed classic of Australian cinema.
 
  Reading through the current filmography of Weir's impressive body of work, it's safe to say that not many filmmakers could match the level of consistent quality in their work. From these humble beginnings, Peter Weir has firmly established himself as one of world's finest film directors.

 

   Three To Go: Michael (29:29)   1969 - Black and White.

   This film, Michael, is one part of a trilogy of stories, combined into a film entitled Three To Go . The other two stories, "Judy" and "Toula", were both directed by Brian Hannant. The Peter Weir instalment, Michael, centres on the problems of young Australian people in a time of rebellion and confusion, due mainly to the war in Vietnam and changing social issues. The film opens with an impressive fantasy scene, involving civil war in the streets of Sydney.

   Michael (Matthew Burton), lives with his parents in a comfortable middle class family home. However, there is a rebellious side to Michael, which threatens to burst out. He falls under the influence of activist Grahame (Grahame Bond), and begins to spend time with him and his group of friends. As much as Michael tries to fit in with the group, his middle class family ties ultimately hold him back from his revolutionary dreams.

   Three Directions In Pop Music (10:181972 - Colour

   This is an interesting snapshot of some Australian music artists of the early seventies, all quite different in styles. The first artist featured is Wendy Saddington and Teardrop, who combined an element of mime with their music. The second featured artist is jug music band The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band. Third is the heavier and psychedelic rock music of Indelible Murtceps.

   Incredible Floridas (11:451972 - Colour

   This short film documents Australian composer Richard Meale's homage to the young French poet, Arthur Rimbaud. Meale composed a music piece for woodwind, percussion and strings which he titled "Incredible Floridas". This music is based on the poetry of the Frenchman, which many may find a little obscure.

   Homesdale (47:541971 - Black and White

   Homesdale is a black comedy with a twist. It was also the last film in which Peter Weir "the actor" appears in a small cameo role.

   Many elements in this film recur with much more polish in his later films, and in particular there is a very similar sense of underlying menace and dread in Weir's first feature film, The Cars That Ate Paris.

   Guests arrive to spend the weekend at the Homesdale Hunting Lodge. This is an isolated summer lodge, staffed by people who look more like mental hospital staff. All this is overseen by the bizarre and creepy lodge director, who seems to know everything about his guests. The purpose of the lodge is to help fulfil the secret fantasies and desires of the guests, all of whom have different reasons for being there.

   The guests include Mr Vaughan (Barry Donely), Mr Levy (James Lear), Mrs Sharpe (Doreen Warburton), Miss Greenoak (Kate Fitzpatrick), Mr Kevin (Grahame Bond) and most interesting of all, Mr Malfrey (Geoff Malone).

   All the characters have some element of interest to their personalities except Mr Malfrey. He is particularly introverted, much to the frustration of the director and his staff. As all the guests participate in the bizarre games and situations concocted by the staff, Mr Malfrey fails to make an impression. When he begins to receive the taunts of Mr Kevin, a more sinister and disturbing side of Mr Malfrey's personality starts to emerge.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

   The overall video transfer is quite good, considering the age of the source material.

   The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and I suspect, is pan and scan. The transfer is not 16x9 enhanced. I was unable to get information on the correct aspect ratios for the films.

   There is no substantial level of sharpness in any of the presented short films, however, I don't believe this caused much of an issue in terms of overall quality. Given that these films were all small budget productions and are all over thirty years old, they have come up quite well on this DVD. The quality of blacks and shadows all vary considerably over the four films. Although none display great results in this area, the two colour films do fare a little better than the black and white films, which both lack contrast. Many of these light and dark issues could also be source material related. There was low level noise present, however I didn't find this overly problematic.

   The colours in Three Directions In Pop Music and Incredible Floridas are very muted, as you would expect from this period. However, I believe they have been rendered faithfully to the source material and look quite genuinely good on the screen.

   One of the films, Three To Go: Michael, has some significant over-compression issues. I counted seven instances of picture break up due to codec failure. Although all the examples disappear from the screen quickly and range in severity, they are certainly distracting and spoil the video transfer of this film in particular. Two prime examples occur at 24:18 and 25:06. This film is also the only one of the four films to display reel change markings; they occur three times, at approximate eight minute intervals. The first of these occurs at 8:24 and 8:33. None of them are of significant distraction or annoyance.

   There is also a problem with the authoring of the DVD that presents itself during this particular film. Just over half way through the film at a chapter change, which also happens to be the layer change (21:57), the film stops and returns you to the short film menu. To advance the film, you need to press play and skip through the chapters until you again reach that point. The disc then plays the rest of the film without any further incident. I tested this problem on four different players and got the same result each time.

   Three To Go: Michael was, thankfully, the only film to display these significant MPEG artefacts. The other three films were free from this, much to my surprise. Aliasing, edge enhancement and some telecine wobble were evident at times, but these were all negligible. All four films displayed varying degrees of film grain, with Homesdale displaying the heaviest. Again, I didn't regard any of this to be particularly problematic - this is inherent in the source material and not a transfer issue. Film artefacts were also on the minor side for all four films. All things considered, this also surprised me greatly. They mainly consisted of infrequent small scratches and a few hairs here and there.

   Unfortunately, there are no subtitles available on this DVD.

   This DVD is a single sided, dual layered disc. As I've just noted, the layer change occurs at 21:57 in Three To Go: Michael and causes the viewer to be thrown back to the menu.

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

Audio

   The audio transfer is quite acceptable, considering the age of the source material.

   There are three audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

   Dialogue quality was quite clear throughout the films, although I missed a few words here and there. There were a few pops and clicks through each of the films, but overall they were all excellent, considering the source and the age of the films. Audio sync was excellent for all four films.

   The music score for Three To Go: Michael is credited to The Cleves. The music is light pop music of the late sixties and suits the film extremely well. The music score for Homesdale is credited to Grahame Bond and Rory O'Donoghue, before their musical venture into television with The Aunty Jack Show. Again, it is a light, almost comical score at times that also suits the film well. The music featured in Three Directions In Pop Music is obviously from the artists that the film highlights, Wendy Saddington, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band and Indelible Murtceps. And the music featured in Incredible Floridas is also from the subject of the film, composer Richard Meale.

  The surrounds were not used.

  The subwoofer kicked in frequently to give highlights to music and the odd bass effect.

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

Extras

   The selection of extras on offer here are quite basic.

Menu

  The main menu features the same static image as the front cover of this DVD. It also features music, which I believe is from Incredible Floridas. Each subsequent menu has the same static image, without the music. Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) audio.

Audio Commentary - Homesdale - Richard Brennan (Producer) and Kate Fitzpatrick (Actress)

  The absence of any behind-the-scenes material makes this commentary very welcome indeed. Richard and Kate are pleasant to listen to and have good memories of the production. We are given good information about many of the cast and crew and excellent insights into the making of the film in general. The two digress a couple of times, but still keep the information fairly relevant. The talk is constant through the forty eight minute film.

Homesdale Stills Gallery 

  A collection of forty one nondescript images from the film, with some behind-the-scenes shots.

Umbrella Trailers

 

R4 vs R1

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

    At the time of this review, there was no R1 version available of the Peter Weir Short Film Collection.

Summary

    Peter Weir Short Film Collection is a wonderful collection of some early works of this great Australian director, at a time when the local film industry was beginning to take great strides forward. These films may not appeal to the average mainstream film viewer, but if you're keen to view the rarely seen beginnings of Peter Weir's career, or you are a fan of early Australian cinema, then this will be an asset to your collection.

   The video transfer is quite good overall, despite the aforementioned problems, which are unfortunate.

   The audio transfer is also good.

   The selection of extras are basic, although the commentary is worth a listen.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE