A Man for All Seasons (1966)

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Released 5-Feb-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Booklet
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1966
Running Time 115:36
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Fred Zinnemann
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Wendy Hiller
Leo McKern
Robert Shaw
Orson Welles
Suzannah York
Paul Scofield
Nigel Davenport
John Hurt
Corin Redgrave
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $34.95 Music Georges Delerue


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Winner of six Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design, A Man For All Seasons is a lavish movie, featuring a brilliant script, and stellar cast of some of Britain's finest actors in the 1960s.

    The late Robert Bolt was undoubtedly one of the greatest screen writers. He wrote a number of sublime scripts, including the screenplays for Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Ryan's Daughter, The Bounty, and The Mission. But arguably, one of his finest works was his adaptation of his own successful play, A Man For All Seasons.

    The story of A Man For All Seasons revolves around the historical drama unfolding in sixteenth century Britain. I find this period of history fascinating, and I have read a number of books, and watched countless documentaries on the subject. When I studied law at university, I was confronted by the sheer genius of one of history's greatest lawyers, England's Chief Minister, Thomas Cromwell, who along with Henry VIII, ushered in a new era of constitutional law and the power of statute that remains with us today. It is sad that Henry VIII is so often portrayed (and remembered) as a lusty, self-indulgent King who wanted a son and the odd divorce. There was so much more to his life. I would go so far as to say that in European history, Henry VIII is one of the most important monarchs to have ever reigned. The World was fundamentally changed during his reign, with the Reformation, and the development of powerful Sovereign Nation States, which in turn launched countless fleets in order to colonise the planet.

    These two great historical figures alone would present more than enough material for a great drama, but then throw in their brilliant foil, Sir Thomas More. Lawyer, Lord Chancellor of England, and Catholic martyr, More's lifetime achievements saw him become both a Knight and later a Catholic Saint. More remains one of history's greatest intellects and eloquent speakers. The genuine transcript of More's trial, when More and Cromwell lock horns, still makes for one of the greatest courtroom dramas that one can possibly read.

    Rather than enter into a tiresome debate over the historical accuracy of the movie, I will focus on it's entertainment value.  A Man For All Seasons managed to be both a critical and commercial success. It spawned a remake in 1988, but this is by far the better version. The movie captures both the emotional turmoil of the central characters, as well as the wider religious and political turmoil that was engulfing Europe. A gripping and touching drama, A Man For All Seasons is a movie that is well worth seeing.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Considering the age of the movie, the quality of the transfer is very good.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The picture is quite soft throughout, but not to the extent that it is annoying or distracting. Occasionally the image is a little grainy as well, such as at 25:45 and 101:02. The shadow detail is also quite poor, and examples of this can be seen in a dark passageway at 9:13, a dark exterior short at 17:13, and inside a darkened room at 73:57.

    The colour seems a little inconsistent throughout. Some scenes display a lush, vivid palette of rich hues, but generally, the colour seems to have darkened with age. All the faces display an almost burnt-orange tint.

    In regard to MPEG artefacts, considering that this is a two hour movie compressed onto a single-layer disc, I had prepared myself for the worst. But surprisingly, there are none to really complain about. There is very, very mild pixelization throughout the movie, for example consider the scene at 21:38. There is also very, very mild posterization at times, such as at 104:42. And finally, there was very slight macro-blocking on occasion, such as at 41:30. I can only assume that the mono soundtrack and the overall softness of the image has allowed for the image to be fairly MPEG artefact free.

    In regard to film-to-video artefacts, there is no aliasing to complain of, but a very gentle telecine wobble throughout the movie. More obvious examples of this occur at 29:28, 46:04 and 113:40.

    The transfer features small film artefacts throughout. These are not distracting, and examples can be seen at 9:28, 18:38, 27:38 and 52:21.

    All of the twenty one sets of subtitles promised on the packaging are present, and the English subtitles are very accurate.

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

Audio

    Originally released theatrically in mono, the movie has been remixed into Dolby Digital 2.0 (Mono) for this DVD.

    Apart from the English Dolby Digital 2.0 (Mono) audio track, there are also four other Dolby Digital 2.0 (Mono) tracks: French, German, Italian, and Spanish.

    The movie retains much of its original format as a play, and there are some very long scenes with nothing but dialogue. The dialogue quality and audio sync are very good on the default English audio track.

    The musical score is credited to Georges Delerue and features a lot of regal period music, often played with period instruments. The score is used sparingly, as was so often the style of movies made during this era.

    As a Dolby Digital 2.0 (Mono) audio track, there is no surround presence and activity, and the subwoofer was not called upon at all.

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

Extras

    This DVD is part of a series entitled the 'Academy Award Winners Collection', released by Columbia TriStar. As such, the lack of extras is disappointing, but one must recall the age of the movie, which can make gathering extras rather difficult.

Menu

    A very simple menu, presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, it is static and silent.

Theatrical Trailer

    This three minute and twenty second trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 (Mono) audio.

R4 vs R1

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

    A Man For All Seasons was released on DVD in Region 1 in February, 1999.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    Considering that full screen and pan and scan versions of movies should be discouraged at every point, I do not see the inclusion of a full screen version on the Region 1 disc as a 'selling point'. I also imagine that those with small televisions, who might enjoy this extra, would not be importing Region 1 DVDs anyway. I easily favour our version for the superior PAL image.

Summary

    A Man For All Seasons is a rewarding movie for the patient. It is a heavily dialogue-based, and understated movie. As such, it may not find a wide audience today. While I thoroughly enjoy (and own) movies like Armageddon and Speed, this movie offers something different. It is more like Amadeus or The Mission. In fact, it is more like a night at the theatre, rather than a night at the movie multiplex.

    The video quality is good considering its age.

    The audio quality is reasonable considering the source material.

    The extras are very slim.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Wednesday, February 06, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

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