Missing (1982)

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Released 21-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 117:32 (Case: 123)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Costa-Gavras

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Jack Lemmon
Sissy Spacek
Melanie Mayron
John Shea
Charles Cioffi
David Clennon
Richard Venture
Jerry Hardin
Richard Bradford
Joe Regalbuto
Keith Szarabajka
John Doolittle
Janice Rule
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Vangelis

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
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

The rebirth of the “political film” has just begun.

In 2005 unsuspecting audiences viewed Terry George’s Hotel Rwanda, George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck, Fernando Meirelles’ The Constant Gardener, Paul Haggis’ Crash and Sally Potter's Yes and were confronted with difficult subject matters that needed to be explored, especially in our current political climate.

This year Australian audiences will further explore war, corruption and fear in films such as Stephen Gaghan’s Syriana, Steven Spielberg’s Munich, Sam Mendes’ Jarhead, Niki Caro’s North Country, Andrew Niccol’s Lord of War, Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation, Paul Greengrass’ Flight 93 and Oliver Stone’s Untitled September 11 project.

Such an array of fact based, politically themed films recalls the days of Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Sidney Lumet, Alan Parker, Richard Attenborough, John Sayles, Alan Parker, Oliver Stone and Costa-Gavras.

Costa-Gavras is an important figure in the political film scene as he courts controversy with each film project. Notable works are Z (1969) in which Costa-Gavras openly condemned the Greek junta system, State of Siege (1973) which details the struggle between Uruguay's government and the leftist Tupamaro guerrillas and Amen (2002) which explores the links between the Vatican and Nazi Germany. Missing (1982) would be the director’s first foray into Hollywood. Missing (1982) explored the coup of General Augusto Pinochet in Chile in 1973 and was based on the non-fiction book Missing by Thomas Hauser released the same year.

The film is based on the true story of American journalist Charles Horman, who disappeared in the aftermath of the coup against President Salvador Allende. Interestingly State of Siege (1973) was filmed on location in Chile under the Allende presidency and was released shortly before the US-backed coup that brought to power the fascist-military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet. Costa-Gavras’s experience within Chile would certainly lend authenticity to the production of Missing (1982).

Missing (1982) stars the late Jack Lemmon as Ed Horman, the conservative father of Charles Horman (John Shea). Ed Horman, a business man who resides in the New York and is a Christian Scientist, learns of his son’s disappearance and turns to the US Government for answers. He finds himself in an unspecified South American country in the hope of finding his son after the brutal and bloody aftermath of the dictatorship, only to be confronted with his own demons and worst fears. Lemmon’s portrayal of Ed Horman is beautifully conceived and his plight is both unsettling and poignant. The role earned Lemmon a Best Actor in a Leading Role Academy Award nomination in 1983.

Sissy Spacek also earned a Best Actress in a Leading Role nomination for her portrayal of Beth Horman, wife of Charles Horman. Beth Horman lives with her left-wing journalist husband Charles Horman in South America. Beth and Charles live a predominantly happy existence in South America with American friends Terry Simon (Melanie Mayron), Frank Teruggi (Joe Regalbuto) and David Holloway (Keith Szarabajka) until the overturn of government. Beth and Ed struggle in their numerous attempts to find Charlie - their religious and political beliefs are at odds as are their own understanding of freedom and democracy. Beth is brave in her search of her husband; she is fearless and courageous guided by hope. The admiration and bond between the two characters develops despite the horrific setting.

The most unsettling aspect of Missing (1982) is the horrendous setting in which the characters are unfortunately forced to be placed. The dead lie in the streets, the hospitals, morgues, police stations and National Stadium. Many of the sequences feature the military roaming the streets and killing unsuspecting civilians as foreigners watch over, unnerved.

Politics aside, like Costa-Gavras' previous efforts he knows the thriller genre aesthetics well and the film is undeniably well crafted. The film utilises flashbacks in which we view Charles Horman’s (John Shea) last few hours before he was declared missing. The film is aided by a brilliant score by Greek composer Vangelis which creates an emotional arc to the drama.

This is a brave, thought provoking film which is still relevant in our political climate. One could only hope films like Missing (1982) and the others mentioned will continue to exist on the fringes of Hollywood and expectantly be viewed by mass audiences in the future, as these films prove fact is stranger than fiction.

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Transfer Quality


Missing (1982) is presented as a 16x9 enhanced 1.85:1 Widescreen transfer.

The flawless transfer of the film has an average bit-rate of 8.24 Mb/s.

The colours are natural and the picture remains sharp throughout the course of the feature. Shadow detail is also very good.

There is minimal grain at 18:45 but overall the transfer is predominately clean.

The English subtitles are clear and true to the onscreen dialogue.

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


The film was originally recorded in mono.

The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono track is the original track spilt up to give the illusion of a stereo mix on home theatre systems. It is clean and suffers from no major deterrents.

As expected the track would not make full use of the surround sound but dialogue remains clear.

The haunting music composed by Vangelis is well suited. It is minimal and the main theme of the film is simple and memorable.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


A static menu with no sound. It is practical with scene selections and subtitle options.

R4 vs R1

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

The Universal Region 1 DVD of this title surprisingly has no menu screen or scene selection screen. In this case the Region 4 is the clear winner.


A must see film.

Flawless transfer and basic sound quality.

No extras

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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