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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.
Local Hero (Roadshow) (1983)

Local Hero (Roadshow) (1983)

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Released 22-Sep-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 106:51 (Case: 86)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bill Forsyth
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Burt Lancaster
Peter Riegert
Fulton Mackay
Denis Lawson
Norman Chancer
Peter Capaldi
Rikki Fulton
Alex Norton
Jenny Seagrove
Jennifer Black
Christopher Rozycki
Gyearbuor Asante
John M. Jackson
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $19.95 Music Mark Knopfler
Guy Fletcher

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
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

     Scottish director Bill Forsyth made his reputation with the quirky 1981 film Gregory's Girl. The story of an awkward teenage romance won him much praise worldwide and foreshadowed his talents as a writer as well as a director.

    The jewel in the crown for Forsyth came a couple of years later with the release of Local Hero. This unassuming gem has not lost any of its initial charm and in many ways is even more relevant today than when it was made in 1983. Local Hero is rich in eccentricity, with an offbeat fascination that is totally alluring. I've seen this film in various formats about twelve times so far, and never become tired of its deadpan humour and lingering beauty.

    A brief synopsis of the plot cannot do any justice to the vast assembly of wonderful characters and situations in Forsyth's screenplay, but here goes anyway.

    The quaint little fishing village of Ferness in Northern Scotland is the focus of the Houston based oil giant Knox Oil. The company has plans to build an enormous oil refinery in the area and subsequently needs to acquire every property in a wide radius of the village.

    The man at the top and owner of Knox Oil is Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster), who seems more interested in discovering new comets and celestial bodies than the operation of his company. Happer is also having abuse therapy with Moritz (Norman Chancer), a psychatrist who's in need of some therapy himself.

    Young company highflier MacIntyre, or Mac (Peter Reigert), is recommended for the task of negotiating the acquisition of the land in Ferness. Happer summons MacIntyre to his palatial office not to discuss business, but to instruct Mac on observation of the northern skies. He gives Mac his private number and requests urgent notification of any unusual developments in the night sky.

    On his arrival in Scotland, Mac is greeted by Danny Oldsen (Peter Capaldi), a company representative from Aberdeen. At local headquarters, Mac meets engineers and Marina (Jenny Seagrove), a marine biologist with mermaid-like features. Marina has dreams of creating an institute for marine research in the area, and for this reason is deliberately kept in the dark about the refinery plans. Mac is shown a model of the planned refinery, which reveals the immense scale of the proposed venture. The complete transformation of the current landscape would also have a significantly negative impact on the environment.

    MacIntyre and Danny rent a room at the local inn, which is run by Gordon and Stella Urguhart (Denis Lawson and Jennifer Black). In his effort to begin negotiations, Mac soon finds out that in a small village, some people take on many roles.

    Without Mac's knowledge, the locals call a series of meetings and are all thrilled by the possibility of becoming instant millionaires. All are very willing to give up their properties except one. Old Ben (Fulton Mackay) lives in a run-down shack on the beach - his beach. Ben and previous generations of his family have owned miles of the beach for four hundred years and he refuses to sell.

    The northern skies erupt in plumes of cosmic colour as the Aurora Borealis puts on a show for MacIntyre. In screams of elation, Mac relays a commentary of the colourful display to Happer, via his only connection with his corporate world - the red phone box.

    Mac's yuppie lifestyle of luxury sports cars and electronic gadgets begins to become insignificant. As the fascination and lure of village life and the natural beauty of his surroundings gets under his skin, his passion for closing the deal gradually begins to waver.

    In an effort to find a resolution, Happer decides to make the journey to Ferness himself to meet with Ben face to face. These two seemingly very different men meet privately in Ben's shack, talking, drinking and laughing for many hours. Naturally, this brings bewildered reactions from the anxious few gathered outside.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer for Local Hero is acceptable, considering the absence of 16x9 enhancement. At long last that old VHS copy can be trashed.

    The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer exhibits some softness at times, but is generally quite sharp and clear. Some minor film grain is evident occasionally during scenes of low light. Blacks were clean and bold, with no low level noise. Shadow detail was a mixed bag in terms of quality, although generally detail held up quite well.

    Colours used in the film are very subtle and subdued. Colours appeared to be very natural and faithful to the film.

    There were no MPEG artefacts evident in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were well controlled. I noticed a couple of minor examples of edge enhancement, but found no evidence of aliasing on my system. Film artefacts were occasionally noticed, but were thankfully infrequent.

    There are English subtitles for the hearing impaired on this DVD. The subtitles are easy to read in bold white and are reasonably accurate.

    This is a single sided, single layered disc, so there is no layer change to negotiate.

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


    The audio transfer is very basic, but perfectly adequate.

    There is only one audio track available on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

    I had no problems hearing and understanding dialogue, even with the many accents in the film. Audio sync was very accurate throughout.

    The original music score by Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler is magnificently atmospheric. He has perfectly captured the very essence of the film in his music. The score comprises a mixture of beautifully haunting themes with the occasional hint of traditional music. The score is completed nicely with the stirring theme Going Home. This well-known piece plays over the end credits. I've had this film soundtrack in my CD collection for many years and testify to its excellence as a stand-alone collection of music.

    The surround channels were not used.

    The subwoofer came to life with fighter planes flying over at 19:03 and 32:47. It was also active in enhancing bass elements of the music score.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The overall presentation of Local Hero on this DVD edition is let down by a considerable lack of decent extras.


    The main menu is very basic, has 16x9 enhancement and features a looped sample of Mark Knopfler's Going Home. After some brief initial animation the menu quickly becomes static.


    Static screen, text based biographies, with no audio for Burt Lancaster, Peter Riegert, Bill Forsyth and Mark Knopfler.

Picture Gallery - A View In Black And White.

    A very small collection of nine black and white images from the film.

R4 vs R1

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

     The R1 version of Local Hero offers nothing in the way of extras, but does feature 16x9 enhancement of the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. It also features French subtitles as well as English.

     These features are considerably more than the minor extras offered on this R4 version, therefore the R1 version wins in this comparison.

    The UK R2 version of Local Hero appears to identical to this R4 version in every way, except for the cover art.


    One of the great films of the eighties, Local Hero has not lost an ounce of its charm over the years. The subtle humour and eccentric characters in Forsyth's screenplay are perfectly contrasted with the stunning cinematography of Chris Menges. Mark Knopfler's stirring music score is also a wonderful asset to the film. Highly Recommended.

    The transfers are quite good, although 16x9 enhancement would have been a huge bonus.

    The extras on this DVD are negligible.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Wednesday, October 05, 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

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