Tail of a Tiger (1984)

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Released 27-Nov-2009

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 78:37
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rolf de Heer

Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Grant Navin
Gordon Poole
Caz Lederman
Peter Feeley
Gayle Kennedy
Walter Sullivan
Basil Clarke
Norm Gobert
Dylan Lyle
Louise Darcy
Adrian Cirrillo
Peter Fogarty
Kristian Verega
Case Custom Packaging
RPI Box Music Graham Tardif

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Unknown English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/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 No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

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Plot Synopsis

    Australian filmmaker, Rolf de Heer's first feature was originally conceived as a documentary about the restoration of a De Havilland Tiger Moth. However, Rolf saw more potential in developing it as a family adventure, involving a young boy and his dream of flying. Based on these universal childhood themes, he began to expand the initial idea into a screenplay. This story would eventually become Rolf de Heer's first feature film - Tail of a Tiger.

    The film was produced on a small budget, with a crew made up largely of Rolf's fellow graduates from the Australian Film and Television School. The sizable cast of child actors was selected from about 300 auditions, with most having no prior acting experience.

    The story centers on the aptly named twelve-year-old, Orville Ryan (Grant Navin). Orville is obsessed with aviation and dreams all day of flying. He lives in an inner suburb of Sydney with his mother, older sister and younger brother.

    Orville's studious and nerdy nature tends to place him in the path of the local bullies and he is constantly harassed by the ringleader, Spike (Peter Feeley) and his spiteful gang.

    One day after one such altercation, Orville accidentally discovers a run down old Tiger Moth in a derelict warehouse. The plane belongs to a cantankerous old man named, Harry (Gordon Poole), who now lives a sad and reclusive lifestyle. Harry spends his days reflecting on the past and has no drive or ambition for the present.

    At first, Harry dismisses Orville's persistent requests to restore the plane and return it to the sky. But eventually his grumpy nature softens and Harry and Orville set about bringing the plane back to life. Naturally though, when Spike learns of their project, he isn't impressed and calls in the gang.

    Like many family adventure films, Tail of a Tiger takes plenty of liberty with sensibilities in the plot. Most of the child performances are also wooden and awkward. Adult audiences may also find some of the dialogue incredibly corny, but for the average eight-year old viewer - they probably won't care a bit.

    At the time of writing this review, Tail of a Tiger is only available as part of Umbrella's, Rolf de Heer Collection. It is currently not available for separate purchase.

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Transfer Quality


    Tail of a Tiger is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which is 16x9 enhanced.

    Like many recent Australian films on DVD, this film comes courtesy of the National Film & Sound Archive. However, with that in mind, don't except a pristine transfer. I've never seen this film theatrically, so I can't comment in regards to the standard of the original film material. While the DVD is certainly watchable, the image exhibits poor definition and is very soft throughout. Blacks were generally clean, but shadow detail was only average.

    By and large, colours were also quite poor. Vibrant colours (especially strong reds) glowed on screen.

    MPEG artefacts were not an issue. Film grain was present, but not problematic - this is likely to be inherent in the source material. Reel change markings were evident at approximate twenty-minute intervals, starting at 16:54. Minor film artefacts were also evident throughout, consisting mainly of small marks and scratches.

    There are no subtitles on the DVD.

    This is a DVD 5, single layer disc, so there is no layer change.

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


    There is only one audio track available on the DVD, English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (192Kb/s).

    Dialogue quality was fine. There were a few minor audio pops, which occurred at the reel changes.

    I noticed a few slight lapses in audio sync, but these appeared to be ADR issues rather than transfer related.

    The original music score is credited to Graham Tardif. It is an instrumental score, with a distinctive "eighties" sound.

    The surrounds channels and subwoofer were used mostly during passages of music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    Like two other films in Umbrella's Rolf de Heer Collection, this edition of Tail of a Tiger is completely void of anything but the film - even menus.

    There is no main menu or scene selection menu. After the Umbrella logo has played and the National Film & Sound Archive notice has appeared on screen, the disc goes straight into the film. At the conclusion of the film, the screen stays black until you press the enter or play button on your remote - this will simply restart the film.

    I can't imagine why Tail of a Tiger has been presented in this manner, but it's very disappointing.

R4 vs R1

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

    Tail of a Tiger is also known as Tale of a Tiger and the US title of, The Young Flyers.

    At the time of this review there is no R1 edition of the film under any of these titles.


    Tail of a Tiger is a run of the mill family adventure. The only real significance of this film is that it happens to be the debut feature of one of Australia's most respected filmmakers, Rolf de Heer.

    The video transfer is average.

    The audio transfer is fine.

    There is absolutely nothing but the film on this edition.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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