The Man Without a Face: Special Edition (1993)

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Released 27-Apr-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Featurette-Remembering The Man Without A Face
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 80:00
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Mel Gibson
Studio
Distributor
Icon Entertainment Starring Mel Gibson
Nick Stahl
Margaret Whitton
Fay Masterson
Gaby Hoffmann
Geoffrey Lewis
Richard Masur
Michael DeLuise
Ethan Phillips
Jean De Baer
Jack De Mave
Viva
Justin Kanew
Case ?
RPI ? Music James Horner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    It's America in the 1960s and Chuck Norstadt (Nick Stahl) is a miserable, lonely and somewhat angry-at-the-world 12-year-old who always seems at odds with his family. Having never known his long since disappeared father and finding that his mother (Margaret Whitton) and older sister (Fay Masterson) refuse to talk about him, Chuck longs for some discipline and fatherly direction in his life. Not content with sticking around his mother and two sisters he decides to apply for military school where he hopes the discipline will sort him out. Unfortunately Chuck isn't the brightest kid going around and having previously failed the entrance exam once before it seems unlikely he will be allowed to give it another go.

    What Chuck needs to help him is a tutor - someone who can set him on the straight and narrow, show him some discipline and hopefully teach him a few things about the world. Enter Justin McLeod (Mel Gibson), a former teacher and now recluse who has a horribly disfigured and scarred body and face from a horrific car accident. In the small Maine seaside town where they live McLeod is seen as the local freak - someone to be mocked, feared and generally distrusted. The townsfolk call him "Hamburger Head" and treat him badly.

    But Chuck sees something in McLeod that others can't because the disfigurement gets in the way. McLeod also, can see potential in young Chuck and sees the possibility of teaching again - something he loved before the accident made him a recluse. Slowly a bond forms between the two and Chuck comes to learn the ways of the world. There is a slight chance that McLeod may just be able to teach Chuck enough to gain him an entry pass into the school. That is of course if the meddling townsfolk don't get in the way.

    The Man Without A Face is probably best remembered as being Mel Gibson's directorial debut coming a couple of years before he scooped the Oscar pool with Braveheart. It is a deliberate tear-jerker of a film with all the usual devices used to make sure the tissues are kept close at hand. As a result it's fairly clichéd and manipulative at times and the story is hardly original.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This transfer is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Surprisingly this is a pretty decent transfer in terms of sharpness except for a little too much grain on occasion. There isn't a trace of edge enhancement, and no low level noise.

    Colours are certainly the highlight of this transfer. The bright, vivid and highly saturated hues of the full rainbow are on offer, with some of the scenery in Maine scrubbing up very nicely. Skin tones are spot on. Black levels are a little off at times in some of the darker interior shots, but outside and night time scenes are excellent.

    There are no apparent MPEG artefacts or film-to-video nasties such as Aliasing.html" target="Aliasing">aliasing. There are a fair number of film artefacts in the form of white and black spots and flecks appearing throughout, making this a less than pristine print.

    There are no subtitles.

    This is a dual layered disc with a layer change that I was unable to place.

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

Audio

    There is only one audio soundtrack on this disc, and it is a quite functional English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with the surround flag present in the bitstream.

    Considering the amount of dialogue in the film there is not a whole heap of dynamic range (save for the marching band at the start and end of the film) and only a little front soundstage channel separation. All dialogue is anchored well and truly in the centre. Overall this soundtrack is quite flat and lifeless, with little low end activity to give it a bit of punch. I was quite disappointed with it on the whole.

    The musical score is credited to James Horner and is perhaps just a little too clichéd in its attempt to tug the heartstrings.

    There is barely any surround channel use and not a whole lot for the subwoofer to do.

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

Extras

Featurette

    The lone extra on the disc is a 9:36 retrospective featuring Mel Gibson and Nick Stahl discussing what the film meant to them. Looks like it was made a couple of years ago. Not that enlightening and way too short to be of much use.

R4 vs R1

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

    Aside from the inclusion of a French Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, the Region 1 disc is identical to this Region 4. I'll call it a draw in this case.

Summary

    The Man Without A Face is perhaps best known as superstar Mel Gibson's directorial debut. It's a fairly well-worn tale of angry student and outcast teacher, each with something to prove bucking the odds that contains plenty of clichés and contrived tear-jerking moments.

    The video quality is pretty good with only a high number of film artefacts to spoil the image, while the audio quality is fairly lacklustre and lacking in an real power.

    The sole extra which runs for less than 10 minutes does not do justice to this so-called special edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Monday, April 02, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-3910, using HDMI output
DisplayPanasonic TH-42PX600A 42" Plasma. 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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