A Wedding (1978)
Main Menu Audio
Trailer-A Decade Under The Influence, Don's Party,
Trailer-Matewan, La Dolce Vita
|Year Of Production||1978|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Robert Altman|
Desi Arnaz Jr.
Nina Van Pallandt
Peggy Ann Garner
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.30:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
There aren't too many directors who have had such a long and distinguished career as Robert Altman. Since graduating to feature films in the 1960s Altman has consistently produced varied and interesting films right up until Gosford Park in 2001 and despite advancing age his creative juices show no sign of drying up.
Still, as Altman admits in the interview which accompanies this DVD, the 1970s were the era with which he is particularly associated. From the Academy Award winning MASH (1970), McCabe and Mrs Miller (1971), through Nashville (1975) and Three Women (1977) Altman carried the spirit of the 70s. Admittedly it came down with a thud with the crazy screen adaptation of Popeye in 1980 but Altman recovered quickly. As I write the well-received A Prairie Home Companion is set to be released in Australia.
A Wedding dates from 1978 and is everything that an Altman fan could want. Altman says that he made a flippant remark to a journalist that his next project would be filming weddings but from that joke emerged an idea for an examination of class and the sexes. Whether a joke or not Altman says that because Nashville featured 24 characters A Wedding had to have 48! True to his word the film is a vast slice of life and follows the wedding party from the service to the end of the reception in roughly real time.
Having so many characters in a film of about 2 hours means that depth of character will not be easily achievable. This is not Altman's prime concern and the film is more of an eavesdropping than a developed plot. In fact, he and the cast worked from a sequence of events more than a script and developed the dialogue in an improvisational style. This is hit and miss with some situations reaching their full dramatic potential and others drifting away into nothingness. The cast is too large to repeat here but Carol Burnett (nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance), silent star Lillian Gish, and Lauren Hutton all have a part to play. Standouts are Geraldine Chaplin as the over-efficient wedding planner and perhaps Mia Farrow who serenely drifts through the film with only one key line.
Comparisons are probably easy to make with Gosford Park, which also had a wealth of characters in a large house, but in tone it is probably closer to Cookie's Fortune with its quirky Southern styling. Although the plot is as simple as the progression of a wedding from beginning to end the story has several minor plots involving sexual intrigue, the death of a matriarch and a few revelations which threaten to blow the whole celebration apart. It is neither a comedy nor a drama although there are some effective scenes of both. One of my favourites is where the wedding planner lines up the large bridal party to meet guests - of which there are practically none. Instead, members of the crew filming the wedding and distant family members are lined up to congratulate the family.
Ultimately the film is a bit too unwieldy to hold together as an effective movie but Altman fans will want to have a copy for their collection.
A Wedding is presented with a 2.35:1 transfer which is faithful to its original aspect ratio. It is 16x9 enhanced.
Unfortunately that's the only good thing that can be said about the transfer. Perhaps this was the best print of the movie the studio could find but time has been as harsh on this movie as fashion has been on the afro on the piano player at the wedding, who looks like he strayed in from the Boost commercial. It is not a question of defects such as artefacts (although there are quite a few minor blemishes) or compression problems which are fairly minimal.
Instead, the film has deteriorated and faded into a hazy mess with a serious lack of clarity. Softness is the order of the day and the grain is at times oppressive.
If the film is to survive and be admired on DVD it is seriously in need of restoration. Although there are many lowlights there is a scene at 97.28 where Carol Burnett is swallowed by brown fog that has to be seen to be believed. As a result skin tones range from accurate to eek! I have seen worse transfers on very old films but this is glaring evidence of the possibility for serious decay in relatively recent filmstock.
The sound for A Wedding is English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s). Whilst the sound is not as comparatively bad as the video quality it is still not particularly good. There are a few minor drop-outs and some muddled dialogue such as at 16.43 but it is hard to tell if they were in the original film or the result of damage. The dialogue is fairly clear although it must be said that the script is largely improvised including the argument scene between two Italians. In the interview Altman says that he let them argue away not knowing what they were saying!
The music is occasional and unobtrusive and audio sync was rarely a problem.
|Surround Channel Use|
This is an interview with Altman made not so long ago. He is a fascinating subject. Interestingly, he describes the recent adaptation of A Wedding into an opera (48 characters cut down to 16) as one of the greatest artistic experiences of his life. Speaking of the poor reception the film received at its release Altman considers that the public weren't really ready or interested in a film about class, old-world and new money.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Region 1 has A Wedding as part of a collection featuring a quartet of Altman movies from the 70s. It is due to be released as a single DVD later. Region 2 has an identical DVD to the Region 4 release. The quartet of films may be an attractive way to go to get a series of films including MASH and Nashville.
A Wedding is a good example of why Altman was a leader in the 70s. It is a freewheeling film that strays into many genres. Fans of 70s cinema will probably not care too much about the visual presentation.
But ... for those who do care about presentation, the film is a shocker.
The Altman interview is far too brief but is nevertheless an engaging chat with a genuine auteur.
|DVD||Onkyo DV-SP300, using Component output|
|Display||NEC PlasmaSync 42" MP4 1024 x 768. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-SR600 with DD-EX and DTS-ES|
|Speakers||JBL Simply Cinema SCS178 5.1|