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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
Local Hero (Umbrella Ent) (1983)

Local Hero (Umbrella Ent) (1983)

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Released 10-Feb-2010

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Drama Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1983
Running Time 106:52
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Bill Forsyth
Umbrella Entertainment
Starring Burt Lancaster
Peter Riegert
Fulton Mackay
Denis Lawson
Norman Chancer
Peter Capaldi
Rikki Fulton
Alex Norton
Jenny Seagrove
Jennifer Black
Christopher Rozycki
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $19.95 Music Mark Knopfler

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 English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Nearly five years ago I reviewed the previous local DVD edition of Local Hero, released by Roadshow Home Entertainment in September 2005. The following synopsis has been taking from that review.

Scottish director Bill Forsyth made his reputation with the quirky 1981 film Gregory's Girl. The story of an awkward teenage romance won him much praise worldwide and foreshadowed his talents as a writer as well as a director.

The jewel in the crown for Forsyth came a couple of years later with the release of Local Hero. This unassuming gem has not lost any of its initial charm and in many ways is even more relevant today than when it was made in 1983. Local Hero is rich in eccentricity, with an offbeat fascination that is totally alluring. I've seen this film in various formats about twelve times so far and never become tired of its deadpan humour and lingering beauty.

A brief synopsis of the plot cannot do justice to the vast assembly of wonderful characters and situations in Forsyth's screenplay, but here goes anyway.

The quaint little fishing village of Ferness in Northern Scotland is the focus of the Houston based oil giant Knox Oil. The company has plans to build an enormous oil refinery in the area and subsequently needs to acquire every property in a wide radius of the village.

The man at the top and owner of Knox Oil is Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster), who seems more interested in discovering new comets and celestial bodies than the operation of his company. Happer is also having abuse therapy with Moritz (Norman Chancer), a psychiatrist who's in need of some therapy himself. Young company highflier MacIntyre, or Mac (Peter Reigert), is recommended for the task of negotiating the acquisition of the land in Ferness. Happer summons MacIntyre to his palatial office not to discuss business but to instruct Mac on the observation of the northern skies. He gives Mac his private number and requests urgent notification of any unusual developments in the night sky.

On his arrival in Scotland, Mac is greeted by Danny Oldsen (Peter Capaldi), a company representative from Aberdeen. At local headquarters Mac meets engineers and Marina (Jenny Seagrove), a marine biologist with mermaid-like features. Marina has dreams of creating an institute for marine research in the area and for this reason is deliberately kept in the dark about the refinery plans. Mac is shown a model of the planned refinery, which reveals the immense scale of the proposed venture. The complete transformation of the current landscape would also have a significantly negative impact on the environment.

MacIntyre and Danny rent a room at the local inn which is run by Gordon and Stella Urguhart (Denis Lawson and Jennifer Black). In his efforts to begin negotiations, Mac soon finds out that in a small village some people take on many roles.

Without Mac's knowledge, the locals call a series of meetings and are all thrilled by the possibility of becoming instant millionaires. All are very willing to give up their properties except one. Old Ben (Fulton Mackay) lives in a run-down shack on the beach - his beach. Ben and previous generations of his family have owned miles of the beach for four hundred years and he refuses to sell.

The northern skies erupt in plumes of cosmic colour as the Aurora Borealis puts on a show for MacIntyre. With screams of elation, Mac relays a commentary of the colourful display to Happer via his only connection with his corporate world - the red phone box.

Mac's yuppie lifestyle of luxury sports cars and electronic gadgets begins to become insignificant. As the fascination and lure of village life and the natural beauty of his surroundings gets under his skin, his passion for closing the deal gradually begins to waver.

In an effort to find a resolution, Happer decides to make the journey to Ferness himself to meet with Ben face to face. These two seemingly very different men meet privately in Ben's shack, talking, drinking and laughing for many hours. Naturally, this brings bewildered reactions from the anxious few gathered outside.

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Transfer Quality


     Local Hero is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

As was the case with the previous Roadshow edition, there is a slight softness to the image but nothing of great consequence. I believe a good portion of this would be inherent in the source material anyway. Blacks were generally clean and shadow detail was good overall.

The colour palette used in Local Hero is very subtle and subdued. Colours appeared to be natural and faithful to the film.

There were no MPEG artefacts evident in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were well controlled and film artefacts were virtually non-existent.

There are English subtitles for the hearing impaired on this DVD. The subtitles are accurate and very easy to read in bold white.

This is a DVD 9, dual layer disc. The layer change was easily noticed at 57:32, but wasn't disruptive.

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 (192Kb/s), which is surround encoded.

Despite some heavy accents, dialogue quality is generally fine.

I noticed some very minor lapses in audio sync; however these appeared to be ADR related rather than a transfer problem.

The original music score by Dire Straits front man Mark Knopfler is magnificently atmospheric. He has perfectly captured the very essence of the film in his music. The score comprises a mixture of beautifully haunting themes with the occasional hint of traditional music. The score is completed nicely with the stirring theme, Going Home. This well-known piece plays over the end credits. I've had this film soundtrack in my CD collection for many years and testify to its excellence as a stand-alone collection of music.

The surround channels carried the same dialogue and music as the front speakers, with no real separation.

The subwoofer came to life during music passages and the occasional bass effect.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use




There is no menu whatsoever on this disc. After the Umbrella and Fremantle Media logos have finished, the film starts automatically. This is an unfortunate trend which is becoming prevalent in some recent Umbrella releases. I can only assume the omission of menus is done to save time and money. However, in my view this practice lets the presentation down badly and I, for one, hope that it ceases very soon.

Theatrical Trailer - Local Hero (2:02)

So, I hear you ask, how do I find the trailer when there is no menu? Well, the trailer has been placed at the end of the final credits and will play automatically at the completion of the film. To view the trailer separately you will need to skip through the chapters using your remote control and find the end of the film.

R4 vs R1

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

    The R1 version of Local Hero offers nothing in the way of extras, but it does feature French subtitles as well as English. Apart from this and the NTSC transfer both versions appear to be the same.

    The previous local release by Roadshow was not 16x9 enhanced but featured some text based biographies and a small photo gallery.

    So, would I recommend upgrading to this Umbrella edition from the previous Roadshow edition? Not unless you're a huge fan of the film and the 16x9 enhancement is really important to you. Apart from this fact, both transfers are quite similar in terms of overall quality.


    One of the great films of the eighties, Local Hero has not lost an ounce of its charm over the years. The subtle humour and eccentric characters in Forsyth's screenplay are perfectly contrasted with the stunning cinematography of Chris Menges. Mark Knopfler's stirring music score is also a wonderful asset to the film. Highly recommended.

    The video and audio transfers are both quite good. The 16x9 enhancement is very welcome, but the absence of a menu is a big disappointment.

    For some reason, every DVD edition released worldwide of Local Hero is void of decent extras - and this is no exception.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Friday, February 19, 2010
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DMP-BD35 Blu Ray Player, using HDMI 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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