Ryan's Daughter: Special Edition (1970)

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Released 1-Mar-2006

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Filmmakers And Cast
Theatrical Trailer-2
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-We're The Last Of The Traveling Circuses
Featurette-Ryan's Daughter: A Story Of Love
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 198:02
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (71:37)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By David Lean

Warner Home Video
Starring Robert Mitchum
Trevor Howard
Christopher Jones
John Mills
Leo McKern
Sarah Miles
Barry Foster
Marie Kean
Arthur O'Sullivan
Evin Crowley
Douglas Sheldon
Gerald Sim
Barry Jackson
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Maurice Jarre

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.20:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.20:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, exit music

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

Plot Synopsis

    David Lean is one of the greatest directors ever to throw his vision onto celluloid despite his relatively low output. He is responsible for a number of great films including my personal favourite film of all time, Lawrence of Arabia. He was nominated seven times for the Best Director Academy Award, winning twice. After making Bridge on the River Kwai in 1957, he only made four more films before his death in 1991. Ryan's Daughter was the third of these in 1970. It is said that the critical reaction to this film was a least partially responsible for him not making another feature for 14 years. Ryan's Daughter is the only one of those final five films which did not earn him an Oscar nomination. Accordingly, I was fascinated to see this film for the first time.

    The story involves a young woman Rosy Ryan (Sarah Miles, Oscar nominated for this role), the daughter of the title, who lives in the wild west coastal region of Ireland in a small village. She is about 17 and feels out of place and lonely in the very insular village. The story is set in 1916, during World War I and also quite soon after the Easter Rising against English rule in Ireland. Both of these events play a part in this epic romantic drama. The local school teacher is a kindly widower, Charles Shaughnessy (Robert Mitchum playing against type) who Rosy has a crush on due to him teaching her about music and classic literature. She throws herself at him, thinking that this will lead to happiness for her. They get married but it quickly becomes evident to Rosy that the passion she seeks will not be found in the arms of Shaughnessy despite his obvious quality as a man. Other important villagers include Father Hugh Collins (Trevor Howard) who is the moral backbone of the place. In his gruff way he spends his days offering advice, protecting the weak and pointing out people's shortcomings. One of the weak who Father Hugh sets out to protect is Michael, the village idiot (John Mills in an Academy Award and Golden Globe winning turn). He is picked on by the younger villagers, knows nearly everything which is going on around the place and has a soft spot for Rosy in his heart. Rosy's father, Tom (Leo McKern ) is the local publican, a man who talks himself up a lot but lacks moral fibre.

    Two very different men enter the region and cause turmoil and drama for the residents. They are Major Randolph Doryan (Christopher Jones) an injured English officer sent to remote Ireland to recuperate. He arrives to take over command of the local army camp. Rosy's head is turned quickly in his direction, attracted by his good looks and obvious need for comfort. Another visitor to the area is Irish rebellion leader Tim O'Leary (Barry Foster ) who is considering the area as a good location for gun running.

    The major cast members (with the notable exception of Christopher Jones) are fantastic, all giving excellent performances. To my mind, Trevor Howard should have been given the Academy Award but as we all know the Academy seems to reward those who play the disabled or mentally challenged. Jones is very stiff and it is interesting to note that he was chosen based on his role in another film without auditioning. Upon arrival they realised that it was not his own voice in the other film and they ended up dubbing all his lines with another actor due to his heavy accent.

    The real star here however is the truly awesome cinematography by Freddie Young (who was also the DOP on Lawrence and Doctor Zhivago ). He won an Academy Award for this film which is richly deserved. This is a truly beautiful film to behold with amazing sunny vistas of golden windswept beaches interspersed with the majesty and terror of the most colossal storm you can imagine. Considering, that this storm was done in the days before CGI makes it even more amazing. The whole storm sequence is breathtaking.

    As you would expect with David Lean (certainly in this era) this is a epic film in many ways not the least of which is run time. This is the original cut of the film including overture, intermission, entr'acte and exit music which takes it to 198 minutes in PAL (originally 206 minutes). It is shown over two double-layered discs in this DVD release. The split is well placed at the intermission. It was edited after original release and has often been shown in a shortened version. A common criticism of this film is that the story does not stand up to the epic treatment in the way that the story behind Doctor Zhivago or Lawrence of Arabia did. This is probably somewhat fair and both of those films have more complex stories, however, I would argue that those films are very hard to live up to and that this film is very watchable from start to finish. The screenplay was once again written by Robert Bolt (husband of Sarah Miles) the screenwriter of both Lawrence and Zhivago. It is loosely based on Madame Bovary.

    Another fascinating ingredient in this film is the score by Maurice Jarre which is very different to his more traditional scores for Lean's previous films. It reminded me of Shostakovich's Jazz Suite which is a modern classical work (well worth a listen if you want to hear something a bit different). Whilst certainly being an interesting piece of music it is very idiosyncratic which results in it sometimes being somewhat discordant and occasionally over the top. In some scenes it works perfectly whereas in others it becomes a little annoying. The overture certainly gives you a very good idea of what the music has in store for you including odd instrumentation, differing styles and some bits which makes your ears prick up (not always for a good reason).

    I thoroughly enjoyed this film and it should be seen as another achievement in a great body of work by a great director. Highly recommended viewing for fans of cinema. Don't believe the critics, make up your own mind.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good with only minor blemishes present on a wonderful transfer of an older film.

    The feature is presented in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio, 16x9 enhanced, which is the original aspect ratio. It was a Super Panavision 70 production.

    The picture was nicely sharp and clear throughout with good levels of detail in backgrounds. The beach and landscape scenes especially look wonderful. There was no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was quite good for a film of this age.

    The colour was stunning. The beautiful greens of Ireland come across very well as does the bright golden sands of the sunny days on the beach.

    As you would expect with a film of this vintage there are some artefacts but nothing too terrible. There is some light grain during the overture however this was not around during most of the film itself. There were also some white film artefacts here and there with one bigger example at 15:40 (Disc 1) and a clutch of them at 57:01 on Disc 2. There were also some very minor jumps (possibly telecine wobble) but only a few. Additionally, there was a couple of opaque lines across the frame at 68:54 on Disc 2 and 77:25 on Disc 2. Last but not least there were a couple of small hairs and some bits of edge enhancement.

    There are 7 subtitle streams including English and English for the hearing impaired. They were clear and easy to read and virtually exact to the spoken word.

    The layer change occurs at 71:37 on Disc 1 and 47:29 on Disc 2. Neither were obvious during playback of the discs..

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


    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack encoded at 384 Kb/s plus the same in French and Italian. The 5.1 remix is sensitive to the film's age and original sound format.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync. Some lines of dialogue were a little difficult to make out but this seemed to be a function of the original material rather than the transfer.

    The score by Maurice Jarre is a fascinating piece of music which some times threatens to overwhelm the film. Most of the time it sounded very good on this transfer although the overture sounded a little tinny in some parts.

    The surround speakers were surprisingly well used adding significant atmosphere especially during the incredible storm sequence plus some surround effects such as planes and shells during the short war sequence.

     The subwoofer was not as well used but did spring to life during some sequences such as the storm.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There is some very interesting material here, however, the extras are somewhat repetitive. For example if you listen to the commentary and then watch the making of featurette the sense of deja-vu will be strong indeed due to reuse of many interview segments.


    The menu includes some of the score plus a still. It utilises a cursor shaped like an umbrella which is a nice link to the opening sequence where Rosy loses her umbrella over a cliff only to have it rescued by Father Hugh and Michael.

Commentary - Hosted by Laurent Bouzereau (Producer of the Special Edition) (Both Discs)

    Commentary is a very strong term to use in reference to what is a really just a collection of interview material joined together by Laurent telling us who is about to talk. The speakers are certainly interesting and have good anecdotes and information to convey. Many of the surviving crew are included as are Sarah Miles and family of both David Lean (his widow) and Robert Mitchum (his daughter). It is sometimes scene specific but this is the exception rather than the rule. Topics covered include casting, working with Lean & Mitchum, location issues, the conflicts between various cast and crew, editing, project development, writing and the themes of the story.

Disc 1

Theatrical Trailers

    There are two trailers included

Disc 2

The Making of Ryan's Daughter (62:56)

    This is split into three parts; Rising Storm covering development, Storm Chaser covering production and The Eye of the Storm covering post-production and release. This is a high quality making of documentary, made specifically for this DVD release. It includes new interviews with many of the surviving crew and cast plus interviews from the time of production with cast and crew who have since passed on. There is significant behind-the-scenes footage of shooting including construction of the village. Topics covered include locations, sets, casting, shooting issues, how the storm sequence was done, the ending, editing, music and the critical reaction. Presented in 4x3.

We're the last of the Travelling Circuses (20:01)

    A making of documentary from the time of production which is obviously the source for interview and behind-the-scenes footage used in the main documentary. This is certainly interesting and includes a very amusing attempt at an interview with Mitchum.

Ryan's Daughter : A Story of Love (6:14)

    An extended version of the announcement trailer.

R4 vs R1

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

     The Region 1 version is basically identical except for the lack of an Italian soundtrack. Draw.


    A high quality film from David Lean which doesn't scale the heights of some of his other work, but an average Lean could be another director's masterpiece.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    A quality set of extras which are unfortunately somewhat repetitive.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Monday, February 26, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersMonitor Audio Bronze 2 (Front), Bronze Centre & Bronze FX (Rears) + Yamaha YST SW90 subwoofer

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