Groundhog Day: Collector's Edition (1993)
Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Harold Ramis (Director)
Featurette-The Weight Of Time
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1993|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Harold Ramis|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, mildly|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
With Buena Vista Home Entertainment suddenly re-releasing a lot of their featureless flippers as RSDL transfers, some with substantially more extras, I guess it was only a matter of time before other distributors followed suit. In this case, Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment are following suit with the classic Harold Ramis comedy Groundhog Day; now, if only we could get Warners to follow suit with Caddyshack and several dozen Region 4 NTSC titles. Of course, the original release of Groundhog Day has been withdrawn from sale, and replaced with this new Collector's Edition. As to whether the new disc is a better buy, you can skip down to the transfer comments at your leisure. For those who don't know what this rather quirky film is about, a plot synopsis is provided below.
Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is two things: a weatherman for what looks like a free-to-air television station, and the sort of man who is maybe a couple of steps above characters like Al Bundy. You're not going to love him, but you will at least admire his ability to hang the proverbial on literally anything and anyone. On the day that our story begins, Phil is doing the weather report for the day before Groundhog Day, then he is introduced to his new producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell). With their cameraman, Larry (Chris Elliott) in tow, they head for the impossible-to-spell town of Punxsutawney, where they are meant to cover the all-important Groundhog Festival.
Unfortunately, after Phil is done reporting on the festivities and attempting to get out of Punxsutawney, he awakens to find himself in the same bed that he woke up in on Groundhog Day. Upon investigating, he soon discovers that he is reliving the same day over and over and over and over. At first, he uses this to have a little bit of fun, going on joyrides and using his knowledge of the day's events to get as many women as he possibly can. Then, as he gets tired of living the same day so many times, he takes himself out in as many ways as he can, eventually going as far as trying to kidnap the Groundhog. However, he soon finds that in his heart of hearts, all he wants is Rita, who doesn't want a bar of him unless he becomes a better person.
Okay, so on paper it is not the greatest story ever conceived, but what makes Groundhog Day special is some excellent acting and superb direction, both of which are necessary elements to simulating the repeated occurrence of the same day. There are numerous speaking roles with actions that have to be performed repeatedly in an eerily similar manner during this film, and it is truly a testament to the skills of all involved that they make it look so easy. It is also worth keeping your eyes open for some great cameos by Ken Hudson Campbell, and director Harold Ramis. All in all, if you're a fan of Ghostbusters, Stripes, or Caddyshack, or any other film I haven't mentioned where Harold Ramis and Bill Murray work together, then Groundhog Day makes a superb piece to add to your collection.
The original release of Groundhog Day was a fair video transfer, with a slightly aged look that was accented by numerous film artefacts and grain. This new release sees Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment going right back to scratch and creating a new transfer. It is one that, while not perfect, shows noticeable improvement over the original.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.
This is a very sharp transfer, with a nice smooth and detailed look that allows the subtle nuances of the location shoots to really shine. So sharp is it, in fact, that the transfer makes it obvious when Harold Ramis' cameo is being shot on a stage. The shadow detail is good, although not great (which is not really a bother as very little of this film takes place in the dark), and there is no low-level noise.
The colour saturation is the biggest improvement that this Collector's Edition has over its predecessor, for reasons that become apparent during the opening credits. The sky and clouds that open this film are much more deeply saturated in this transfer, with the blues being really blue, and the white being really white. There are no composite artefacts on display here, either.
MPEG artefacts were not apparent in this transfer, which tends to stay at a bitrate between six and eight megabits per second. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some aliasing that was so mild that the two instances I noted on a balcony railing at 50:31 and the four-wheel-drive grille at 60:43 were so mild as to be nonexistent. This is one remarkably clean and clear transfer. Well, except for the film artefacts, which were still fairly noticeable, although much improved over the original Region 4 transfer.
There are no subtitles for the Hearing Impaired on this disc, unless you speak Spanish, German, or Italian. English viewers with hearing impairments will have to contend with the ordinary English subtitles, which vary slightly and frequently from the spoken dialogue.
This disc is supposed to be RSDL formatted, but I was unable to locate the layer change in spite of watching the film all the way through with both the original English dialogue and the commentary.
Unfortunately, the same from-scratch remastering of the video was not extended to the audio, which is a pity considering how much fun could have been had with this film using discrete sound effects.
A total of six soundtracks are included on this DVD, all of them in Dolby Digital 2.0 with surround-encoding and 192 kilobits per second. The first, and default soundtrack is the original English dialogue, followed by dubs in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Finally, there is an English Audio Commentary by director Harold Ramis. I listened to both the original English dialogue and the Audio Commentary, while comparing a few passages in all of the dubs save for French.
The dialogue is very clear and easy to understand at all times, even during the "don't drive on the railroad tracks" sequence, which must have been a nightmare for the sound recorders on location or during the ADR. I could not discern any problems with audio sync.
The score music, or at least the original part of it, is credited to George Fenton, and it is an especially quirky effort at that. The score heavily relies on the use of wood instruments and percussion, giving it a sort of marching brass band feel, especially during the opening credits. At times, it varies in order to reflect the mood of a scene, such as when Phil is getting tired of the repeat cycle he is living through, but it is mostly a lot of rollicking fun that suits the film perfectly. There are also a few contemporary numbers scattered throughout the film, including some very funny usages of I've Got You, Babe.
The surround channels are intermittently used to separate the music and some ambient effects from the dialogue. They are not especially worked out, but their presence is welcome. The subwoofer was not specifically encoded into the soundtrack, but it was occasionally called into action by redirected signal, such as when Bill Murray drives the four-wheel-drive off a cliff.
|Surround Channel Use|
Another reason why Groundhog Day is being remastered is so that a few extras can be added, which is always a commendable effort. While this is not a vast collection of extras, it does live up to my philosophy of "quality, not quantity".
The menu is themed around the film in a cutesy manner that can be considered a two-dimensional version of the Ghostbusters menu. It is accompanied by Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio, and it is 16x9 Enhanced.
Harold Ramis does not commentate well when he doesn't have others to bounce his energy off, as was the case in the Ghostbusters commentary. He still manages to impart a great deal of interesting information, however, and frequently points out cameos from some well-known actors, such as himself. All in all, this is a good commentary, but it would have been great if Bill Murray had gotten involved.
This twenty-four minute and forty-four second featurette is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with footage from the film in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is not 16x9 Enhanced. This featurette covers the making of the film, with brief comments about the writing and production. It is more interesting because of the inclusion of takes which were left on the cutting room floor.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this two minute and thirty-eight second trailer is looking every one of its nine years old.
Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, this two minute and thirteen second trailer looks and sounds every bit of its seventeen years in age.
This two minute and twenty-nine second trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. It is not 16x9 Enhanced.
Filmographies for Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott, and director/writer/producer/actor Harold Ramis are presented under this submenu. All of them except Harold Ramis' are one-page efforts. This is not exactly the best way to use space on a disc.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;
This is a tough call. Although the Region 1 disc has a discrete soundtrack, it reportedly suffers from "minor pixelisation and edge enhancement", which makes it difficult to recommend considering that the new Region 4 version has a noticeably improved video effort. In the end, I have to call this even because the Region 4 version has a very good soundtrack in spite of it being matrixed (the original theatrical exhibition had matrixed sound). The decision as to which disc represents the best value for money, and the Region 1 disc is expensive at US$24.95, must rest with the buyer.
Groundhog Day is one of the best comedies that has ever been made, with a deep and meaningful plot that is enhanced by the small diversions that keep the viewer laughing.
The video transfer is very good.
The audio transfer is excellent considering the matrixed format.
The extras are limited, but give an excellent insight into the film, its making, and its philosophical implications.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF (80cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-835|
|Speakers||Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Yamaha NS-90 Rear Speakers, Yamaha NSC-120 Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer|