River Runs Through It, A: Special Edition (1992)

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Released 4-Sep-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-Shadow Casting
Theatrical Trailer-Behind The Scenes Footage
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1992
Running Time 118:17
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (85:22) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Robert Redford
Studio
Distributor
Allied Filmmakers
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Craig Sheffer
Brad Pitt
Tom Skerritt
Brenda Blethyn
Emily Lloyd
Edie McClurg
Stephen Shellen
Vann Gravage
Nicole Burdette
Susan Traylor
Michael Cudlitz
Rob Cox
Buck Simmonds
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Mark Isham


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
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

   "In Montana there are three things we're never late for - Church, Work and Fishing"

    Sometimes a film can slip under the personal radar and remain a sort of unknown for many years. A River Runs Through It was,  for me, one such film until I took that chance to watch it for review purposes late last year when the film was released on Region 4 DVD for the first time. I always knew this 1992 effort was from director Robert Redford, starred Brad Pitt, won a couple of Academy Awards and featured fly fishing as a key element to the story - but that was it. The film has now been released again, this time gaining the special edition tag. So what are the differences from the version released last year? Read on to find out.

    This is a well-told, authentic and visually stunning tale about a family living in rural Montana in the early part of the 20th century. Like the quote above implies, there are three things that this family places above all others in terms of importance - church, work and fishing (fly fishing to be precise).

    It is based on the real life story of Norman Maclean, and tells the endearing story of the Maclean family. Norman's father, Reverend Maclean (Tom Skerrit) lives in the magnificent natural surrounds of Missoula, Montana, with his wife (Brenda Blethyn) and sons Norman (Craig Sheffer) and Paul (Brad Pitt).

    The story follows the boys as they grow up under the stern guidance of their father. The Reverend is a strict man as he teaches the boys all about life. His one great passion is fly fishing and he passes on all he knows to his two sons who soon become equally passionate about the sport. But time moves on and things change. Norman heads off to university in another state, while Paul accepts a position as a reporter with a paper in a nearby town. But the lure of the river and family is strong and when Norman eventually returns home after six years, he and his brother soon rekindle their passion for the mountains, the river and fishing. But things have changed. Paul was always the more reckless of the two and his recent womanising and gambling looks likely to lead to trouble despite the insistence of Norman to keep it cool. In spite of  his scholarly ways Norman also has his own troubles when he finds himself smitten with the lovely Jessie Burns (Emily Lloyd) and is torn between a future with her or accepting a teaching position in Illinois.

    This is a beautifully crafted film featuring authentic production design, magnificent mountain and river scenery and some standout performances from the main cast. It may be a little plodding at times, but it is a story told with great affection.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Sadly, this would appear to be the exact same transfer that was found on the original Region 4 release.

    It is presented in an aspect of 1.66:1 and features 16x9 enhancement. Unfortunately this is not quite the same as the original theatrical ratio of 1.85:1, though if watching it on a standard widescreen television, the overscan will make it appear to be 1.78:1 which is similar to the proper ratio.

    This is a fairly decent video transfer with few problems, though it is not quite as sharp as I would have liked. The colours, especially of the mountains and rivers of Montana are magnificent and vibrant, offering a very wide palette. Shadow detail seems a little lacking during the darker scenes, and this also makes the black levels less than perfect.

    There are no compression artefacts, while film artefacts are present in large numbers but are small enough to not become a problem.

    English for the hearing impaired subtitles are all that we get here and they are well-placed onscreen and accurate enough to work out what is happening.

    This is a dual layer disc and the layer change is at 85:22. It is well placed.

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

Audio

    Like the video transfer, the audio soundtrack is the same as the original release.

    There's only one audio option available here, this being a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack.

    This isn't a bad soundtrack, with no problems with hiss or distortion, but it really does lack any great range of fidelity and comes across a little one dimensional at times.

    The dialogue is prominent and well placed in the soundtrack and there are no audio sync problems.

   Mark Isham's score is excellent, capturing the beauty and unspoilt nature of Montana at the turn of the century. Coupled with the cinematography it is one of the highlights of the film.

    There is no discrete surround or subwoofer use.

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

Extras

    Obviously with the video and audio transfers exactly the same as the original Region 4 release there must be some content differences (other than some new artwork), otherwise the disc could hardly earn a Special Edition tag. In this case it is the extras that see the only real changes from the earlier release. Oddly we lose the two shorter featurettes found on that original disc and pick up one longer making of featurette.

Main Menu Audio & Animation

Featurette-Making Of

    This is the only addition from the previous release. It is a very lengthy (55:50) making of featurette that goes into significant detail. It is much better than the much shorter making-of that was included on the original disc (that featurette suffered by using simple snippets of behind-the-camera footage with no voiceover describing what was occurring).

Theatrical Trailer

    This is the same trailer found on the original release. It runs for 2:38, and is a great trailer that stirs up the emotions of the story without spoiling any major plot elements.

R4 vs R1

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

    The Region 4 Special Edition disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 Deluxe Edition disc misses out on;

    The obvious deciding factor here is the availability of a new, clean and proper aspect video transfer on the Region 1 disc. The new making-of featurette present on the Region 4 disc is excellent and could perhaps sway your purchasing decision if you were keen on extras. I prefer the best possible video transfer of the film and would therefore favour the Region 1 Deluxe Edition.

Summary

    A River Runs Through It is a finely crafted film featuring some standout acting performances and beautiful cinematography. Unfortunately this new special edition Region 4 disc does not improve on the audio or video transfers found on the original release.

    The video transfer is free from major fault, except it is not presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio.

    The audio is functional, while the new extra is quite good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL).
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

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