The Homecoming (1973)

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

Released 13-Apr-2005

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Interviews-Crew-Sir Peter Hall (Director)
Interviews-Crew-David Watkin (Cinematographer)
Interviews-Crew-Otto Plaschkes (Executive Producer)
Featurette-Interview With Richard Pena (Director Of NYFF)
Trailer-American Film Theatre Trailer Gallery (7)
Notes-AFT Cinebill For The Homecoming
Notes-Peter Hall "Changing Rooms" From The Guardian
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 109:29 (Case: 111)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (100:03) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Peter Hall
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Harold Pinter
Cyril Cusack
Ian Holm
Michael Jayston
Vivien Merchant
Terence Rigby
Paul Rogers
Jonathan Sachar
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 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

    If you are in the mood for some uplifting, wholesome family values, look away now. Harold Pinter's play features characters who fully vent their disdain and disgust for each other, with no warm, human feelings at all. The action takes place in a North London house, where Max (Paul Rogers) holds sway. He is old, walking with the aid of a stick, has yellow teeth and wears a cap. He abuses his chauffeur brother Sam (Cyril Cusack), and alternatively laments and condemns his late wife. Two of his three sons live at home. Lenny (Ian Holm) is a snide pimp who takes no guff from his old man. Joey (Terence Rigby) is dim-witted and training to be a boxer.

    That night, third brother Teddy (Michael Jayston), a lecturer in philosophy at an American university, arrives to stay, accompanied by his wife of nine years Ruth (Vivien Merchant - Pinter's one-time wife).

    This film is a verbal assault on the senses, with no substantial plot and not a single sympathetic character. The characters occasionally say positive things, but their body language and articulation of the lines contradict the content. Each of them treats each other savagely. Max describes the female characters in the play - though his dead wife does not appear - as "pox-ridden sluts". At one point he says about his wife "Mind you, she wasn't such a bad woman. Even though it made me sick just to look at her rotten, stinking face, she wasn't such a bad b****". It's as if Pinter was trying to strip away the veneer of civilisation to reveal the basest thoughts underneath.

    The play is actually quite funny in a black sort of way. It is bleak and minimalist, but unlike Beckett the humour is more accessible. The film brings together the director of the original stage production (Peter Hall) and most of the cast, Cyril Cusack replacing the younger actor who originally played Sam. The performances are flawless, the standouts being Rogers, who was normally associated with playing professorial types on the screen, and Ian Holm, who is simply superb. The direction is likewise excellent, as is the production design. This is perhaps the jewel of the American Film Theater series.

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

Transfer Quality


    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.

    The transfer is reasonable but far from perfect. The video is sharp and the level of detail is much better than VHS quality, though not up to the standard I would associate with DVD. Colours are muted. I think this was partly an artistic decision but also reflects the condition of the source materials. Flesh tones look washed out most of the time. Contrast and brightness are acceptable.

    Unfortunately, as in other discs in this collection, there are compression artefacts. Low level noise is often visible, for example at 88:00, and there are MPEG artefacts apparent in backgrounds. The result is a sort-of pulsing effect, where the background is not homogenous and seems to be grainy. The transfer has some film grain as well. Film artefacts are limited to white spots and occasional larger damage. Some telecine wobble is evident during the opening credits.

    There are no subtitles provided. The disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change occurring at 100:03, in the middle of a scene and slightly disruptive.

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


    The sole audio track is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, reflecting the original audio mix.

    Dialogue is clear throughout. While the audio is acceptable, it is slightly harsh and strident. There is also some slight sibilance. The absence of background hiss suggests that filtering may have affected the dialogue.

    There is no music score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio & Animation

    The menu is animated with a brief snippet from the film, with some music that, while it doesn't appear in the film, seems to be the theme for the DVD series.

Interviews-Crew-Sir Peter Hall (Director) (26:48)

    An interesting interview with the director, who speaks about his long friendship with Pinter, how he came to direct the original production of the play and the way that he decided to film it. Particularly informative is his discussion of the editing.

Interviews-Crew-David Watkin (Cinematographer) (24:47)

    This is the same interview that appears on the DVD of A Delicate Balance. The first part of this interview focuses on the lighting of The Homecoming.

Interviews-Crew-Otto Plaschkes (Executive Producer) (21:46)

    The same interview as on the Butley DVD. Plaschkes discusses his role in the AFT.

Featurette-Interview With Richard Peņa (Director Of NYFF) (20:42)

    This interview also appears on the DVD of The Man in the Glass Booth. Peņa knows the films well and speaks with some authority about them.

Trailer-American Film Theatre Trailer Gallery (18:32)

    Seven trailers for other films in the AFT series.

Notes-AFT Cinebill For The Homecoming

    The three articles here include a speech by Pinter talking about his work, a section of reflections on Pinter by celebrity theatre patrons and an article by Hall about the first production.


    Some publicity and production stills from the film.


    A single promotional poster.

Notes-Peter Hall "Changing Rooms"; From The Guardian

    A recent article by Peter Hall discussing the initial impact of the play.

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 release appears to be identical to both the UK Region 1 and the US Region 2.


    A superb play, not for everyone but this adaptation is unlikely to be surpassed.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    There are some good extras, but it is a pity that some of the interviews are recycled.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, June 09, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE