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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.
Eye of the Needle (1981)

Eye of the Needle (1981)

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Released 7-Mar-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 108:04
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Richard Marquand

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Donald Sutherland
Stephen MacKenna
Philip Martin Brown
Kate Nelligan
Christopher Cazenove
George Belbin
Faith Brook
Barbara Graley
George Lee
Arthur Lovegrove
Colin Rix
Barbara Ewing
Chris Jenkinson
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Miklós Rózsa

Video Audio
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 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German 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

    Henry Faber (Donald Sutherland) is a popular identity in his neighbourhood. Quiet, well spoken and respected, no-one suspects he is a key German spy known as "The Needle". When Faber discovers the truth about the diversionary tactics the British have employed to mislead the Germans over the D-Day landings, he must travel to Scotland to rendezvous with a German U-boat in order to take the information to Berlin.

    Staying one step ahead of the British secret service, who are pursuing him after he murders his landlady to protect his identity, he steals a fishing boat to meet the submarine. En-route to the meeting point, a storm shipwrecks Faber on a remote island off the Scottish coast, inhabited only by a family; David, a crippled ex-pilot, his attractive wife Lucy (Kate Nelligan) and their son; and by Tom, an elderly shepherd. Faber must recover on the island and find a way to contact his submarine before it returns to Germany.

   Lucy, emotionally isolated from her crippled husband, is quickly seduced by the suave Henry Faber but soon discovers Faber's secret and must fight for her life as Faber tries to escape the island.

    Based on Ken Follet's novel of the same name, Eye Of The Needle is a World War II spy thriller that never quite achieves its full potential. Surprisingly for a screen adaptation, the film follows the book closely with only minor changes in moving from novel to screenplay, but, whereas the book is well crafted and draws you into the world of Lucy, David and Faber, this film leaves you as an outside observer. You are left remote from the characters and, while you do still care about them, you are not drawn into the story in the way you are in a truly great film. Part of this may be that the book gives a great deal more character background, explaining motivations and desires, but some of it is just the result of a film adaptation that fails to engage the audience fully and make you want to chase the story from scene to scene.

    This is not to say that Eye Of The Needle is a bad film. It simply could have been so much more.

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Transfer Quality


    Due for release in March 2006, this DVD is letterboxed! That's right, the film is in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, but the disc is not 16x9 enhanced. Those of us with widescreen TVs get to view this one with black borders all the way around. This is simply not good enough in this day and age. Letterbox transfers should have long since gone the way of the dinosaurs, but this one seems to have missed the evolutionary bus.

    Aside from the poor formatting, the video is good without being outstanding. There is a little bit of aliasing occasionally, but that's about the extent of any artefacts. Shadow details are OK, again, not stunning but not bad either. Colour is nicely saturated, although a lot of the film is set in the grey drabness of war-time England.

    In all a nice enough transfer, if only we had been given it in 16x9 enhanced format. Naturally, I have reduced the overall star rating because of this.

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


    Audio is listed as Dolby Digital 2.0, but it sounded predominately mono. I didn't notice much, if any, use of the stereo soundstage, the centre speaker picking up most of the workload. Needless to say, the rears and subwoofer were not called upon to any significant degree.

    The sound itself was clear and clean. Dialogue was easy to understand, but the music sounded a little flat and uninspiring, the result of a very basic mix. Better use of the stereo spectrum and the dynamic range offered by the DVD format would have lifted this considerably. The overall sound was probably equivalent to an average quality Hi-Fi VHS tape; OK but not brilliant. This may have been a shortcoming of the original film, but I would have at least expected a good stereo mix on a 1981 film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    A static menu and a 1:48 trailer are the limit of the extras on this disc.

R4 vs R1

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

    As far as I can determine, the Region 1 release is the same as Region 4.


    A movie that could have been so much better than it is on a DVD that could have been so much better than it is. This proved to be a disappointing 108 minutes of viewing given I had enjoyed the book so much. As I said in the plot summary, not a bad movie, but one that is destined to be a wet Sunday filler rather than a must see.

    Video is of reasonable quality but ruined by a letterbox transfer - shame, MGM, shame.

    Audio is clear but basic.

    Extras are almost non-existent.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Glen Randall (If you're really bored, you can read my bio)
Monday, February 20, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-1200Y, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-42PV500A 42" HD Plasma. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596
SpeakersRichter Wizard fronts, Richter Lynx centre, Richter Hydra rears, Velodyne CT-100 sub-woofer

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