|Year Of Production||1983|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Barbra Streisand|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
David de Keyser
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.66:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
German for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I recall listening to several songs from Yentl years ago, before I ever saw the film, and imagining a vast fantasy plot involving a boy who learns to fly so that he can reach his dead father in the stars. When I finally did get to see the film, I was a little disappointed to have got it so completely wrong, but very intrigued by it all. In fact, I enjoyed it thoroughly and was completely caught up in the issues it attempted to address. I was very much looking forward to seeing it a second time for this review to see how it compared to my earlier impressions. Disappointingly, the film doesn't quite hold up for me any more.
Yentl was Barbara Streisand's directorial debut and a project she had long championed since reading the original short story by Isaac Bashevi Singer, Yentl, the Yeshiva Boy. Streisand apparently had a difficult battle convincing executives her film would sell at all (Heaven's Gate had just become a very expensive flop) and, as one of only two female directors filming, her attempts to pull the film together reflected Yentl's own struggles. After her father dies, Yentl (Streisand), a Jewish woman who has being secretly studying the Talmud (study of sacred law was apparently forbidden to women), disguises herself as a man and joins a yeshiva (an Orthodox Jewish "seminary") in order to maintain her passion for knowledge. Calling herself Anshel, she is quickly befriended by Avigdor (Mandy Patinkin) who equally shares her love for study and debate. Yentl/Anshel quickly falls for Avigdor, who himself develops a deep affection for Anshel. When Avigdor's engagement to Hadass (Amy Irving) is broken by Hadass's father, Avigdor asks Anshel/Yentl to marry Hadass so that he can remain close to her. Yentl finds herself part of an awkward triangle in which Hadass begins to love Anshel, while Yentl struggles to conceal her feelings for Avigdor, who himself continues to pine for Hadass.
Streisand, perhaps a little misguidedly, opted to make the film as a musical. The songs themselves are not bad at all: some are even quite beautiful (and stuck in my head...). On the whole, though, they feel out of place and in most cases interrupt the film fairly abruptly: they work much better as stand-alone or concert pieces. (It's also ironic that Streisand cast Mandy Patinkin without giving him a single note to sing). The film does tend to drag a little in the middle and bursting into song tended to generate groans rather than renewed interest. Yentl also suffers from Streisand's somewhat annoying and whining portrayal of her character and the feeling that the film takes itself just that little bit too seriously.
Yentl appears to have been an opportunity for Streisand to address several feminist issues: as I mentioned above, Yentl's drive to be able to study and think independently as an equal to her male counterparts reflects Streisand's own determination to take on the male-dominated film industry on her own terms. Ironically, though, this call for equality is undermined by the narrative's insistence on heterosexuality as the only means of expressing love. Avigdor's attraction to Anshel/Yentl is not acknowledged until he discovers that Anshel is a woman, for example. As a feminist work, I don't think Yentl works as well as Streisand hoped it might.
On the whole, Yentl is not a bad film at all and I imagine quite a few people have been waiting for it to appear on DVD. It didn't quite live up to my earlier impressions and is let down by only a few flaws and a misguided choice of music. You'll either love it or hate it, but it's definitely worth checking it out to see for yourself.
Yentl has received an excellent video transfer with only one major issue and a few minor flaws to let it down. It is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1, but, and this is the disc's single major problem, it is not 16x9 enhanced.
Otherwise the transfer is great. The transfer is sharp and nicely detailed. There is quite a bit of film grain and low level noise (see for example the exterior night scene from 19:40 - 22:59), although it is handled very well without any noticeable occasions of macro-blocking. The level of grain also gives the transfer a much more film-like quality. Often, the film seems to have something of a sepia tint to it and colours appear to have been deliberately muted but have been transferred perfectly.
I detected only a few MPEG and film-to-video artefacts: moire effect on lace curtains (98:10 - 98:33) and some minor posterization and pixelization on Mandy Patinkin's face at 114:45 were the worst examples I found. Film artefacts in the form of white specks appear fairly often but are practically unnoticeable.
The disc includes an English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle stream and numerous other language options. The English subtitles omit a lot of what is spoken, particularly when dialogue overlaps, but generally convey what is being said fairly accurately and are easy to read.
This is an RSDL disc with the layer change placed at 65:58. It is well placed as Mandy Patinkin pauses at the door and is barely disruptive.
The audio transfer is accurate and well mastered, although, as a mostly dialogue (and song) driven film, it probably won't knock your socks off. The disc includes an English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) track plus German, French, Italian, and Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks. I listened to the English track and sampled the others. Dialogue came across clearly at all times and audio sync was never a problem.
Yentl's score was composed by Michel Legrand (with lyrics by Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman). The score by itself integrates well with onscreen events although, as I mentioned above, the songs, even though beautiful on their own, tend to overwhelm the film.
In surround mode, the surrounds are used mostly to support the score, but also carried ambient effects (such as insects chirping during the song "Papa Can You Hear Me?" at 19:40 - 22:59 and chatter in the yeshiva (35:35 onwards)) to good effect. The foreign language dubs, however, are much more focused on the centre speaker. If you prefer any of these dubs, listen to them in stereo mode. The subwoofer barely registers at all.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras.
Yentl is being re-released in Region 2 on 28 November with exactly the same specs as Region 4. It replaces an earlier French release with almost identical language options, although only in Dolby Digital 1.0. Yentl has not been released in Region 1 and does not appear due for a release there any time soon. Both available releases are in PAL so there is no need to favour one over the other: go for whichever option is cheapest.
Yentl didn't quite live up to my earlier impressions and doesn't quite work as a musical. It's still worth watching for yourself.
The video quality is excellent, with very few flaws, and is let down only by its lack of 16x9 enhancement (for which I deducted an extra star).
Audio quality is very suitable for the film, with some effective surround usage.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Sony DVP-S336, using Component output|
|Display||LG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Speakers||DB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR|