Angela's Ashes: Collector's Edition (1999)
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Angela's Ashes (26:30)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-(16:41)
Audio Commentary-Frank McCourt (Author)
Audio Commentary-Alan Parker (Director)
|Year Of Production||1999|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (85:54)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Alan Parker|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The McCourt's are a typical Irish Catholic family: God-fearing, plenty of children, and immigrants to the New World. But when the troubles of their old world have followed them to the new, they return to Limerick - to the squalor, disease and poverty that they sought to leave behind, and the English legacy of a class system of which they are now at the bottom.
Told as a series of connected vignettes representing the early memories of the author until he reaches adulthood, the story is held together by a voice-over by the now adult eldest child, Francis (consecutively played by Joe Breen, Ciaran Owens and Michael Legge, and voiced for the narration by Andrew Bennet). Not much of it is pretty: his father, Malachy (Robert Carlyle) is a serially unemployed but loveable drunk, and this leaves his mother, Angela (Emily Watson) to struggle through on her wits and on charity to try and raise a family as it is ravaged by the consumption (tuberculosis). Reminding me of a sequence from The Meaning Of Life (without the comedy), children seem to appear every time that Angela and Malachy even think about sleeping together, and in the depression, this meant one thing: more mouths going without. Young Frankie also has to step up to the plate in the providing department, and the only thing of sustenance available to him is the cinema, and his dreams of going back to America.
Although the story belongs to Frank McCourt, the movie belongs to Emily Watson (Hilary and Jackie), whose brilliantly understated performance is the rock around which the remainder of the actors base their performances, a lot like Angela seemed to be for the McCourt family. Her dreamy, melancholy manner perfectly reflected the almost unbearable anguish of Angela. Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting), although not as notable, still manages to do a fantastic job portraying a good man in a bad life, although he was a little limp at times. The various Franks all do fantastically well in light of their age and the complexity of the character they were required to represent, and the transitions between the three are almost seamless.
Director Alan Parker (The Commitments) managed to bring the cobbled streets of Limerick to life, with the assistance of some wonderful production design, costumes, and cinematography (by Michael Seresin) that was all shades of grey in the rainy, starkly lit streets of 1930s Ireland that were recreated in Dublin for the movie.
At the end of it all, though, I just couldn't help but feel that the finished product was not greater than the sum of its parts. I really liked much of Angela's Ashes, and the final third of the movie (once Michael Legge takes over as Frank) is quite enthralling indeed. There is no real resolution to the story, though, and I couldn't help but think that there is quite a bit more there with respect to the motivations and reasons for the behaviour of many of the other characters, especially Frank's parents. I then realized, though, that the first two thirds of the story was told from the point of view of a child, and to a child, things happen without rhyme or reason, and the actions of adults are often accepted without question. Bearing this in mind upon viewing the movie a second time, I enjoyed it a lot more. The story could not have been told any other way without skewing the point of the book, and this is one of those films where to do that would have been suicide for the movie.
This is a clear, sharp transfer, displaying an abundance of detail throughout, including in the almost constant shadow generated by the dim, dark and rainy settings. Such dark shots on occasion produced some grain, but this was only apparent upon close inspection, and was probably intended for style reasons in any event. Low level noise was not a problem.
Heavy filtering and film processing by the makers of this movie have been applied to give the film a dark, Dickensian feel, with greys and blacks dominating a drab, dreary, depression era colouring. There is the occasional splash of colour (such as some green grass, and Angela's red coat) but these instances are by no means vibrant, and are quite rare. The blacks are deep and solid, and the transfer faithfully represents what was present in the source.
Film artefacts were a reasonably regular intrusion, and although they were by no means distracting, their presence on such recent source material is a little inexplicable. The worst example is at 27:20 where there is a sprinkling of black and white flecks, but the remainder of the instances were fairly isolated. I noticed no MPEG artefacts, however, there were a number of instances of aliasing, including at 11:25 on a striped shirt, at 19:40 on a tweed coat, at 26:05 and 45:35, on a brick wall, and at 118:06 on some roof shingles.
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 85:54, and although it occurs precisely at the moment of an extremely unattractive still shot of a whole cooked lamb's head, the shot was still and silent nonetheless, and the brief pause caused only a minimum of distraction.
Quite a few of the lines of dialogue throughout the feature could be considered to be difficult to understand, but this is always due to the thickness of the accents (especially amongst the actors of Irish origin), and is not a transfer issue. Audio sync was not a concern
Legendary composer John Williams (Star Wars), who amazingly, has been nominated for Oscars 38 times (winning five) over 32 years provided the score, which was a beautifully broad orchestral piece, wonderfully suited to the movie. At times, however, I felt that it telegraphed the emotional content of the story without allowing the viewer to find those emotions for themselves, and was at times grandiose when something a little more personal was occurring.
The main features of the soundtrack are the music, dialogue and voice-over, so accordingly, the surrounds weren't heard from much at all, and a very front-heavy mix resulted. There was a real lack of atmospheric effects, although the major action from the surrounds came in this guise. I thought that with the almost constant rain throughout the feature that the immersion value of the track could have been increased, but unfortunately, it wasn't, and the only time I really heard rain from the surrounds were at the 64:30 and 96:00 marks. Other rare but good uses of the surrounds for atmosphere occurred in the pub at 60:08 and at the train station at 74:45, in church around the 90:00 mark, and very occasionally in some of the outdoor scenes.
There also wasn't much of an opportunity for the subwoofer to be utilized, however, it did make itself known to support the lower end of the sweeping score, as well as for the reasonably regular banging of feet on wooden floors.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||Front: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W|