Stir: Special Collectors Edition (1980)

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Released 7-Nov-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Tales From The Inside
Gallery-Photo
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Money Movers, The Great Bookie Robbery, Turkey Shoot
Trailer-Ghosts Of The Civil Dead
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 96:16 (Case: 101)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Stephen Wallace
Studio
Distributor
NSW Film Corp
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Bryan Brown
Max Phipps
Dennis Miller
Garry Waddell
Phil Motherwell
Michael Gow
Edward Robshaw
Tex Morton
Ray Marshall
Syd Heylen
Robert Noble
Paul Sonkkila
Keith Gallasch
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Cameron Allan


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.70:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown 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

   Stir is based on the infamous jail riots in Bathurst, New South Wales in 1974. The powerful screenplay was written by Bob Jewson who was actually serving time for safe cracking in the minimum-security wing of the prison at the time of its eruption into anarchy. Those events, as he witnessed them, became the basis for this story, even though no direct reference to Bathurst is ever made in the film.

    Stir was the feature film debut for director Stephen Wallace after his short film The Love Letters from Teralba Road (1977), which also starred a young Bryan Brown in his first screen role. Wallace's work since then has mainly been in television, although he again directed Bryan Brown in the absorbing war drama, Blood Oath in 1990.

    Stir was almost entirely filmed in an abandoned prison at Gladstone, South Australia. Finding this location was an absolute godsend for the production. The failure to find a suitable location almost brought the film to an end before it even started. This superb location brings a distinct authenticity to the film that could not have been duplicated using constructed sets.

    The film opens with Norton (Max Phipps) watching intently a television interview of a former prisoner, China Jackson (Bryan Brown). On his release from jail, Jackson went public with comments on the brutal and aggressive treatment of inmates by the warders. We witness the fact that Norton was a major participant in this vicious abuse of power and participated in the bashing of many prisoners, including Jackson.

    The story then moves forward three years. China Jackson is again being returned to prison, this time on a small six-month sentence for shoplifting. Immediately, he has the respect of the inmates, but is singled out for retribution by certain warders. The warder most likely to seek revenge on Jackson has seen the errors of his ways and is privately seeking redemption for his sins. Norton saves Jackson from a series of humiliating situations with other warders by using his rank to over-rule their imposed punishments. But Jackson is not willing to accept Norton's guarded acts of protection and as such, denies Norton the redemption he desperately seeks.

    The methodical and intimidating routine of the warders eventually brings about a violent confrontation with the prisoners, who decide to burn down the jail. This bold and destructive act from the inmates is met with harsh and sadistic retaliation from the warders. The prisoners are initially elated with seeing the prison in turmoil. However, the pleasure of seeing fires burning in the cells and corridors is soon brought down to earth by bullets and batons. As prisoners run a gauntlet of baton bashings in a final act of humiliation, Norton again comes face to face with Jackson. But this time the scrutiny of many eyes are upon him and Norton can't disguise his actions.

    Stir succeeds on many levels, one of which is the performances from a wonderful cast, many of whom are especially mentioned in the interview featurette on this DVD. Apart from the two actors previously mentioned, other featured actors include Dennis Miller, Garry Waddell, Ray Marshall, Paul Sonkkila, Phil Motherwell and Syd Heylen.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer for Stir will certainly please fans with dodgy old VHS copies. This transfer is from a new and restored print of the film and looks very good.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.70:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I cannot confirm this as the film's correct aspect ratio.

    The transfer exhibits good levels of sharpness and clarity in general. A couple of scenes displayed slight softness, but nothing too drastic. Blacks were clean and shadows were excellent, displaying a high level of detail. Some film grain was noticed occasionally, but this wasn't at all problematic.

    The use of colour in this film is not particularly challenging, however the drab palette of colours are well balanced. There are also no problems with over-saturation of colour.

    A few minor artefacts were noticed in the transfer. Reel change markings were first evident at 16:20 and 16:27 and then appeared on a further four occasions at approximate twenty minute intervals. As usual, these were very brief and not overly annoying. A minor instance of telecine wobble was also noticed at 16:24. A compression artefact in the form of macro blocking was noticed at 79:45. Thankfully, this was very brief and not particularly disruptive. Film artefacts were generally infrequent and minor in nature.

    There are no subtitles available on this DVD.

    This is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change occurs at the very end of the film, so there is no disruption at all.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is very good and is faithful to the original mono audio track.

    There is one audio track on this DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s). This is an excellent example of a quality mono audio track.

    Dialogue quality was excellent, I had no problems hearing and comprehending the dialogue throughout. Audio sync also appeared spot on.

    The original music score is credited to Cameron Allan. His music is suitably atmospheric and complements the film very well.

    The surround channels and the subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Apart from the inclusion of an interview featurette, the extras are quite minimal. This is a little disappointing considering the DVD's label of "Special Collectors Edition".  

Menu

    The menu is very basic and static. It features a looped sample of music and dialogue from the film and is 16x9 enhanced.

Interview Featurette: Tales From The Inside  (48:45)

    This informative little featurette was made especially for this DVD presentation in 2005. It features interviews with Bryan Brown (actor), Stephen Wallace (director), Bob Jewson (writer), Richard Brennan (producer) and Garry Waddell (actor). A wide range of filmmaking topics are discussed in relation to Stir, with special attention paid to the many actors in the film, some of whom are no longer with us. Selected scenes from the film are incorporated to emphasize the comment. In the absence of a decent audio commentary, this is probably the next best thing and is certainly worth viewing.

Stills Gallery

    A mixed collection of fifty three images taken from the film, behind-the-scenes photographs or promotional material.

Theatrical Trailer

    Stir (2:51)

Aussie Trailers

  • Money Movers (2:21)
  • The Great Bookie Robbery (3:26)
  • Turkey Shoot (2:39)
  • Ghosts Of The Civil Dead (1:24)

    R4 vs R1

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

        At the time of this review, there is no R1 version of Stir available.

    Summary

        Stir is a powerful and confronting film about a prison brimming with mounting tension, a place where good and evil are not clearly defined. Some twenty-six years on, this film has aged very well and still retains much of its raw, emotional energy.

        Throw away the old VHS copy, the transfers are both very good.

        The interview featurette is worthy and interesting, but the other extras are run of the mill.

  • Ratings (out of 5)

    Video
    Audio
    Extras
    Plot
    Overall

    © Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
    Wednesday, March 01, 2006
    Review Equipment
    DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
    DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
    Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
    AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
    SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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