Stuart Sutcliffe: The Lost Beatle (2005)
Trailer-Ringo Starr & His All Star Band; Paul McCartney-Paul is Live
Trailer-The Rutles; Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey
|Year Of Production||2005|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Steve Cole|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This very well made BBC documentary traces the short life of Stuart Sutcliffe, who beside being a talented artist is most well known as The Beatles' original bass player. Sutcliffe was a member of the band throughout their arduous early days, playing clubs in Hamburg and living out of less than meagre accommodation. The feature combines still photographs and artwork, along with stock footage of the era, with new, intimate interviews with those closest to Stuart. Interviewees include his sister Pauline, rocker Tony Sheridan, artist Klaus Voorman, original Beatles Manager Allan Williams and love interest Astrid Kirchherr.
After a brief segment outlining his religious upbringing, we follow Stuart's passion for art and his enrolment in the Liverpool Art College, where he met John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He was recruited into the Beatles for the simple fact that he owned an instrument and accompanied them to Hamburg, where they performed for many months. His letters that were written around this time reveal his initial feelings of Hamburg as an immoral cesspool, but these first impressions soon changed as he gained many friends, including photographer Astrid Kirchherr and her then-boyfriend, Klaus Voorman. Astrid and Stuart hit it off immediately, and Klaus was most supportive and understanding regarding their relationship. Stuart's bond with Astrid would eventually distance him from the Beatles, as John's relationship with Yoko Ono would years later, and he ultimately quit the group to focus on his painting, earning a scholarship at an Art School in Hamburg - a rarity for a foreigner so soon after the War. The joy quickly turned bittersweet, as he complained of headaches, gradually became ill and died soon after of a brain haemorrhage. Doctors cited an indentation in his skull that was discovered in the autopsy; possibly trauma sustained in a violent scuffle. Where Stuart's sister Pauline points the finger of blame for her brother's death marks the apex of this interesting documentary, and as a Beatles fan I found the revelation jaw-dropping to say the least.
There is no Beatles music present, but it's not missed. It's admitted that material of the group from this era is very scarce, but the makers of this documentary have made do with numerous photographs and sketches. This tragically involving, albeit short, documentary is a must for any Beatles fan.
The feature was produced for television broadcast in 2005, and is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement.
A vast array of sources have been used, and quality varies. Recent interview footage fares the best, but appears slightly limited in resolution, with noticeable jagged stepping in sharp edges. The overall image is otherwise very clear and pleasing to watch.
A mixture of colour and black & white stock footage has been used, with no dire issues to report. Colours are suitably rich and vibrant, while most monochrome sources contain nice shading.
There are absolutely no MPEG compression issues to speak of. Film artefacts vary in severity, but add quite a bit of character to some of the more dated sources.
There are no English subtitles provided.
The disc has been authored on a single layered disc, with the short feature split into twelve chapters.
A standard stereo Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) soundtrack is provided. There are no surprises here.
The English dialogue is clear and always easy to understand, as you would hope to expect from such a recent production. Audio sync is perfect.
As I mentioned above, the soundtrack doesn't include any Beatles music per se, but there are many familiar songs from the era that were covered by the band in Hamburg. These performances are credited to a band called The Prellies. The program closes most fittingly, with John Lennon's Jealous Guy.
There is no dedicated surround or LFE activity, however I did note some lower frequencies were directed to the subwoofer. I also noted a some mild use of the stereo soundfield, but nothing overly mind-blowing.
|Surround Channel Use|
A scrolling cross-section of Sutcliffe's artworks, accompanied by a distracting edit of Lennon's Jealous Guy, once again.
An assortment of Umbrella trailers; Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, Paul McCartney-Paul is Live in Concert, the hilarious The Rutles and Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The transfer is faithful to the documentary's presentation on television.
The extras are brief.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using HDMI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|