Reds: Special Collector's Edition (1981)

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Released 5-Feb-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Trailer-DVD Trailer (1:18)
Featurette-Witness to Reds (67:34)
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1981
Running Time 187:17
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (52:37 )
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Warren Beatty

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Warren Beatty
Diane Keaton
Edward Herrmann
Jerzy Kosinski
Jack Nicholson
Paul Sorvino
Maureen Stapleton
Case Slip Case
RPI $24.95 Music Al Bryan
Charles L. Johnson
Stephen Sondheim

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

At the Golden Globe Awards this year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association honoured actor, screen-writer, producer and director Warren Beatty with the Cecil B. Demille Award. As excerpts from Splendor in the Grass (1961), Bonnie & Clyde (1967), Shampoo (1975), Heaven Can Wait (1978) Reds (1981), Ishtar (1987), Dick Tracy (1990) Bugsy (1991) and Bulworth (1998) were played before his peers, the montage reminded the film industry that Warren Beatty is an important figure in American Cinema. Unfortunately Beatty has not directed a film since Bulworth (1998) or acted since Town & Country (2001).

Beatty’s last box office success was with Dick Tracy, however his passion for cinema has never ceased. As a director Beatty is driven by ambition, as an actor Beatty can disappear into subversive roles, as a screenwriter Beatty desires to write films with intelligence and heart and as a producer Beatty wants to create a film with a purpose. With Reds, Beatty was able to achieve all of these goals and more.

Reds recounts the life of American journalist and communist activist John Reed (Warren Beatty) and his relationship with journalist and feminist Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton), who identified with Marxist and Anarchist beliefs. As their forbidden love affair grows during World War I Reed finds himself occupied with the Communist movement. Bryant on the other hand is trying to be recognized as a serious journalist and both Reed and Bryant travel to Russia together and participate in Bolshevik protests and Communist party activities. Reed and Bryant find themselves inspired by the political and social upheavals in Russia. However upon their return to America they find their world has changed. Edward Herrmann, Jerzy Kosinski, Jack Nicholson and Maureen Stapleton all play pivotal supporting characters who challenge not only the relationship of John Reed and Louise Bryant, but also their individual beliefs and political opinions.

The film is richly layered as the complexity of love is placed against a chaotic landscape in which the characters are unsure of their future. At a length of over three hours, the film might deter some modern audiences but under Beatty’s direction all the performances are inspired and refreshing, particularly Diane Keaton, Jerzy Kosinski, Jack Nicholson and Maureen Stapleton. The pacing of the film is engrossing as Beatty uses interviews composed with well known authors and playwrights as well as unknown individuals who knew the characters who inspired the film. The interviews are interspersed throughout the film, allowing the audience time to reflect on the dramatised action and be given different yet authentic perspectives on the fact-based characters and the trials and tribulations of the era.

Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro envisages the characters' worlds beautifully, from the lively Greenwich Village literary scene to the cold isolated Russian streets; every shot is iconic and romantic. The film is perhaps Beatty’s most passionate work and quarter of a century on the themes of war, political beliefs and moral integrity still plague our society. Elegant films like Reds are unfortunately rarely made today; this is a film to savour.

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Transfer Quality


The remastered PAL transfer for Reds is presented in 1.78:1 16x9 enhanced widescreen and overall the transfer is pleasing considering the age of the film. Due to the length of the film, the transfer is split over two dual-layer DVDs. Both Disc One (0:00-99:44) and Disc Two (99:45-187:17) have been encoded at an average high bitrate of 7.45 Mbps. This high bitrate accounts for a well presented natural yet muted colour scheme and excellent black levels. However aliasing artefacts, particularly on patterned clothing or window frames were evident. Mild film grain is perceptible, particularly towards the final scenes of the film as well as mild telecine wobble during the opening credits and a number of scenes. The subtitles unique to the film which detail the dates and locations of the narrative are burnt onto the print. The optional English subtitles and English for the Hearing Impaired subtitles are true to the onscreen dialogue and action. The layer change for Disc One is at 52:37 while the layer change for Disc Two occurs at 47:41.

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


A 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack and the original 2.0 Dolby Digital mono soundtrack are available on this DVD. The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack has no errors and the dialogue is clear. However as the film is dialogue orientated, surround sound usage is limited. The channel separation is average as the majority of sound is directed at the front of the soundstage, while atmospheric sounds can be heard in the rears during scenes which contain public spaces or war violence. Subwoofer usage is minimal.

Award winning composer Stephen Sondheim provides an intimate and minimal score which contrasts well against Beatty’s grand vision. The score is never overstated or manipulative of the audience’s emotions, it remains underneath the action and only becomes the center of attention during the final scenes of the film. As the relationship between John Reed and Louise Bryant grows Sondheim’s score also builds into sweeping romanticism. The song I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard written Philip Wingate and Henry W. Petrie is also a memorable song which also depicts the romance of the film, and a version of this song is used to score a montage in the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio & Animation

The main menu for Disc One features a montage of the iconic images from the film with a section of the score. The main menu for Disc Two upon loading features a still menu which allows the user to continue viewing the film, access set up or to go directly to the main menu which is identical to the design and layout of Disc One. The main menu includes scene selections, set up and access to special features.

DVD trailer

Disc One includes the DVD trailer.

Witness to Reds

Disc Two includes the documentary Witness to Reds (67:34), which is written, produced and directed by Laurent Bouzereau. Although produced especially for the 25th Anniversary DVD, this extra feature is unfortunately presented in a 1.33:1 full frame aspect ratio, with optional English subtitles. Witness to Reds can be viewed as one feature or in the following separate segments:

The Rising (6:30)

Director, screenwriter, producer and actor Warren Beatty speaks about his fascination with the life of John Reed, his wife feminist Louise Bryant and the Communist revolution. Beatty knew the film would not have any commercial value, so in order to receive financing he directed and starred in the successful comedy Heaven Can Wait (1978) for Paramount Pictures. Beatty hoped Paramount Pictures would then return the favour by backing Reds, despite the fact he did not know how much the production would cost the studio. Barry Diller, former Paramount Chairman and CEO is also featured in this segment and speaks about why he chose to green light the production.

Comrades (13:31)

Interviews with Jack Nicholson, Paul Sorvino and Edward Herrmann feature in this section. Beatty discusses why he cast Diane Keaton and the late Maureen Stapleton and how he juggled the lead role and directing the feature film. Nicholson comments on the extensive research he did for his role as Nobel and four time Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright Eugene O'Neill. Kiki Kosiński, wife of the late novelist Jerzy Kosiński, who portrayed a Bolshevik revolutionary Grigory Zinoviev also features. Gene Hackman’s unbilled cameo is also briefly discussed.

Testimonials (11:58)

The film utilises testimonials from individuals who knew John Reed, Louise Bryant, Eugene O'Neill, Emma Goldman and Max Eastman. Beatty, editor Dede Allen, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro and Barry Diller discuss this unique concept and why it was used. Included in this segment are some outtakes from interviews conducted with American writer Henry Miller and Feminists Dora Russell and Rebecca West.

The March (9:08)

Beatty discusses the on location shooting which occurred in Boston, Seattle, Santa Fe, Taos, Washington, London, Manchester, Leeds, Stockholm, Helsinki, Madrid, Roavaniemi, Seville, Guadix and Granada. Production manager Nigel Wood also features.

Revolution Part 1 (10:20) and Revolution Part 2 (6:55)

These segments detail Beatty’s directing style, the pacing of the film and how his ideas often clashed with Vittorio Storaro’s working methods and style. The trials and tribulations of the production, which resulted in 130 hours of footage are discussed from the point of view of the cast and crew. Also, Stephen Sondheim’s romantic score is reflected upon while Storaro’s reveals why he used the ENR variable silver retention development process.

Propaganda (9:12)

This final section details the marketing of the film and Beatty’s reaction to Reds being nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including all four acting categories. Beatty received Best Director, Vittorio Storaro received Best Cinematography and Maureen Stapleton received Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

R4 vs R1

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

The R4 release features identical content to the R1 release, with the exception of an optional French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

The R4 release is identical to the R2 (UK) release.

Both the R4 and R1 have a slipcase.

The local standard DVD release of Reds can be purchased for under $15.

In America Paramount Pictures have also released Reds on Blu-ray (1080p transfer, using MPEG-2 technology) and HD DVD (1080p transfer, using VC-1 compression). Both these releases are two disc sets. The Blu-ray release features the film on one disc and the extras on a second disc while the HD DVD release features the film split over two DVDs. In comparison with the R1 standard release both formats are identical in terms of content, with the exception of an optional Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack with optional English HoH, French and Spanish subtitles.


Elegant films like Reds are unfortunately rarely made today; this is a film to savour. The transfer is pleasing considering the age of the film and the documentary provides an in-depth look at the production of the film .

Ratings (out of 5)


© Vanessa Appassamy (Biography)
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1910, using DVI output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE 700. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha DSP-A595a - 5.1 DTS
Speakers(Front) DB Dynamics Polaris AC688F loudspeakers,(Centre) DB Dynamics Polaris Mk3 Model CC030,(Rear) Polaris Mk3 Model SSD425,(Subwoofer) Jensen JPS12

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