Vernon, Florida (1982)

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Released 22-May-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary None
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1982
Running Time 55:18
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Errol Morris
Studio
Distributor

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring None Given
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual-Secure Clip
RPI ? Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
Not 16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Fans of documentary filmmaker Errol Morris that had been entranced by his first 1978 release, Gates of Heaven, were eager to see his next project unveiled.

    The film Vernon, Florida is short (about 50 minutes) and represents a further step in Morris's style. In fact, the origin of the film was actually earlier than Gates of Heaven. Fellow oddball director Werner Herzog was so keen for Morris to make a film that he reportedly gave him an envelope full of cash which Morris threw out the window of his motel room. Herzog retrieved it, Morris eventually took it, and the result was a trip to Vernon, Florida that became the film.

    Morris had his quirk-o-meter perked when he heard rumours that Vernon was "the nub capital of America". This quaint phrase refers to the apparent practice of disabling oneself for insurance payouts. The level of payout depended upon the degree of amputation of the limb! Legend has it that Morris received death threats whilst doing the research which convinced him not to persevere with the original idea. Instead he made the film simply about the residents of the town. This may explain why the film does not have the same single minded undercurrent of idea present in his other films.

    The town of Vernon has its eccentrics and Morris is there to capture them in all their glory. From the policeman sitting in his patrol car who admits that shoplifting is about as serious as the town's crime problems get to the old-timer who proudly shows off his motley collection of pets, Vernon has characters more intriguing than if they were dramatic creations.

    The key focus of the film is on a good old boy, whom it seems has dedicated his life to turkey hunting. He knows how they think, the way they behave and his plaque of turkey feet and beards is something that is destined to be buried with him.

Listen to that sound? Hear that sound? Getting in an out of trees? That flop-flop sound? Mm, that sound will sure mistake you for turkeys. Listen. Hear that flop-flop. Limbs breaking. Hear that good flop, then? Listening to that gives me the turkey fever. Mm, I wish there were as many turkeys as there are buzzards.

    Although on the face of it Vernon, Florida lacks a complete subject, in fact, like Gates of Heaven the subject is the people and the town itself; both familiar and scary at the same time.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Vernon, Florida has a 1.66:1, non-anamorphic, letterboxed transfer.

    It is in a pretty raw state which means that it looks just like you would expect a cheap documentary from 1981 to look. In reviewing Gates of Heaven I said that whilst I would have liked some real effort to have been made to improve the picture quality of these films the phrase "beggars can't be choosers" comes to mind. The reality is that Vernon, Florida is a film that is not well known and one that I didn't expect to ever see let alone see on DVD.

    There are a few scratches and blobs on the source print and the colours are wayward and washed out with age. It is grainy and has a soft look. The film has a slightly oppressive grey feeling to it but that may have been the directors intention. One point to note is that the film does not have any subtitles. This sometimes presents as a problem in Vernon, Florida as some of the accents are as thick as molasses and can be hard to follow.

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

Audio

    Vernon, Florida comes in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound (224Kb/s). It is satisfactory as the films are largely interviews. The sound quality is thin and my comments about the accents and lack of subtitles mean that full attention needs to be paid to the movie.

    There is no actual soundtrack score, although the film starts with some disturbing humming-style music that serves to introduce this unusual town.

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

Extras

    The only extras are trailers for other Umbrella product.

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 of this film is identical to the Region 4 version.

Summary

    As rare as turkey teeth, this early documentary by Errol Morris (Oscar winner for The Fog of War) comes to Region 4 for the first time in a collection which is hard to beat. The film is short and perhaps the weakest of the three in the collection, but it still merits a look. Just leave off your transfer quality glasses!

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DVR 630H-S, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TH-50PV60A 50' Plasma. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationOnkyo TX - SR603
SpeakersOnkyo 6.1 Surround

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