Joe Leahy's Neighbours (1989)

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Released 1-Sep-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Featurette-Sunday Review
Interviews-Crew
Featurette-7.30 Report
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 89:35 (Case: 120)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Bob Connolly
Studio
Distributor
Arundel Productions
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Robin Anderson
Bob Connolly
Robin Anderson
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI Box Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
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 Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    First Contact documented the story of the Leahy brothers and their journey into the unexplored Western Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The brother's search for gold led them to discover about one million natives living in the valleys, none of whom had ever encountered a white man before.

    Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson returned to the Highlands in late 1985 to investigate the impact the explorers and their western values had on the Highlanders. What they discovered and subsequently documented in that eighteen-month period was so much more than they could have ever bargained for.

    In First Contact, something that was not detailed in interviews with the surviving Leahy brothers was the fact that Michael Leahy had sired several mixed-race children to different native women. However, none of these children ever got to know Michael as a key father figure in their lives. One of these children, Joe Leahy, is the main protagonist in this documentary, Joe Leahy's Neighbours.

    Joe grew up with a strong work ethic and learnt the business of growing coffee by working on the labour line of a colonial plantation. He saved his money diligently and had a dream of one day owning his own plantation - when we meet Joe, he has achieved this goal.

    Joe Leahy and his family are quite wealthy and have many of the material luxuries that come with such wealth. Together with his family, Joe owns and operates a coffee plantation (Kilima Plantation) on land he purchased from Tumul, a Ganiga tribe elder, twelve years before. This purchase has always been a bone of contention amongst the many clans of the Ganigas and factional fighting begins over claiming the land back.

    While Joe has the support of the Ganiga tribal elders, many in the younger community have become suspicious of Joe's intentions and believe he is increasing his personal wealth at the expense of the tribal community. One of these men, Joseph Madang, sets up a bank account with the sole purpose of gathering sufficient funds from the community to buy back the land. He soon discovers that although the plan seems to be very straightforward in theory, it is a colossal task in reality.

    To complicate matters further, Joe is negotiating with another Ganiga clan leader, Popina Mai, to acquire even more tribal land to create a joint venture coffee plantation with the Ganiga (Kaugum Plantation). The promise of incredible personal and tribal wealth has lured Popina to believe he is doing the right thing by himself and his community. But when the group opposing the dealings with Joe Leahy discovers that this new deal is stacked heavily in Joe's favour, they demand immediate answers.

    Joe Leahy's Neighbours perfectly captures the conflict between Joe's modern business ideas and the traditional tribal values of sharing wealth and resources. Although Joe has no evil plans to exploit his neighbour's resources, he does use clever means to persuade the appropriate elders of the alleged benefits of his strategies. While the potential certainly exists for the Ganiga tribe to prosper from the dealings, Joe Leahy and his family hold the largest individual stake in the venture and therefore stand to make big personal profits. This is the main sticking point with tribal opposition to the alliance, even though the ultimate responsibility of the business loan rests with Joe Leahy .

    Joe's plan of a harmonious business partnership with the Ganiga rests on a constant knife-edge. His many years of hard work and dedication to the plantation could be easily obliterated in an instant.

    Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson have cleverly avoided making any superficial judgments of the people in the film and simply present the story to the audience as it unfolded. This is superb documentary filmmaking.

   Joe Leahy's Neighbours is presented as the second part of The Highlands Trilogy boxed set.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer for Joe Leahy's Neighbours is quite reasonable.

    The film is presented full screen in an aspect ratio of 1.29:1, not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer generally exhibits a good degree of sharpness and appears to be faithful to the source material. Blacks and shadow detail was acceptable despite the occasional presence of grain.

    Colours appear well balanced and natural.

    No MPEG artefacts were evident in this transfer. There were no significant film-to-video artefacts to advise of and film artefacts were also negligible.

    English subtitles are burnt into the print and cannot be disabled. The subtitles are clearly visible in white, in front of a shaded background.

    This is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change has been placed outside of the feature, so there is no disruption.

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

Audio

    The audio transfer is minimal, but perfectly adequate.

    There is only one audio track on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality is excellent and presented no problems. Audio sync appeared to be very accurate.

    There is no music used in this documentary.

    There was no sound separation, despite the fact that the use of Pro-Logic spreads the audio over all speakers.

    The subwoofer was used sparingly and only came to life on three occasions.

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

Extras

    The selection of extras is relevant and very interesting.

Menu

     The menu is of a basic design, silent, static and is 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette - Sunday Review (9:24)

    This extra has been taken from the Nine Network's Sunday program. Six years on from his review of First ContactPeter Thompson this time reviews Joe Leahy's Neighbours. Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson are interviewed and footage from the documentary is also incorporated.

Interview - Bob Connolly (19:08)

    This recent interview with Bob Connolly takes a retrospective look at Joe Leahy's Neighbours. Although the interview is quite short, it makes essential viewing. Bob offers brilliant insight into how he and Robin lived for those eighteen months in the Highlands and how they patiently observed and captured the events in the film.

Featurette - 7:30 Report (5:14)

    This is a segment from the ABC program The 7:30 Report about Joe Leahy's Neighbours. It probably went to air around the time of the film's initial release in 1989. It features a brief interview with Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson as well as some footage 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.

    At the time of this review, there is no R1 version available of Joe Leahy's Neighbours.

Summary

    Joe Leahy's Neighbours is a totally engrossing documentary that is as compelling today as it was when first released in 1989.The uneasy business alliance between Joe Leahy and his tribal neighbours makes for fascinating viewing; I defy anyone to walk away from the trilogy at this point.

    The video and audio transfers are both good.

    The selection of extras is highly recommended viewing.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Sunday, June 11, 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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