Love Story (1970)

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Released 10-Apr-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romance Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Love Story-A Classic Remembered
Audio Commentary-Arthur Hiller (Director)
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1970
Running Time 96:10
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (56:49) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Arthur Hiller
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Ryan O'Neal
Ali MacGraw
John Marley
Ray Milland
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Francis Lai


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (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 Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
German
Greek
English
Spanish
French
Hebrew
Croatian
Icelandic
Italian
Hungarian
Dutch
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Slovak
Finnish
Swedish
Turkish
English for the Hearing Impaired
German Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Love Story is probably the quintessential 70s romantic tearjerker. It was a phenomenally successful film in its day (especially given that it was made on a tight budget of US$2m), and was nominated for no less than seven Oscars but only managed to win one: Best Music, Original Score by Francis Lai. However, it did win several Golden Globes - including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Director, Best Screenplay and of course Best Original Score. The book by Erich Segal also became a huge bestseller, written after the screenplay but released prior to the film thus giving people the impression the film is an adaptation of the book.

    The story itself is deceptively simple and yet appealing in a timeless way. Oliver Barrett IV (Ryan O'Neal) is the original "preppie" WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant, if you had to ask) currently studying pre-law at Harvard - intelligent without really trying, incredibly blond and handsome, comes from an immensely wealthy family, plus a hockey player. Talk about a potent combination of brains, beauty, brawn and rich to boot.

    He meets Jennifer Cavilerri (Ali MacGraw), a music student at Radcliffe, who is every which way his social and cultural opposite (though his intellectual and emotional equal): poor, ethnic, Catholic, brunette and into the arts rather than sports. Needless to say, they immediately fall in love with each other, despite the protests of Oliver's father (Ray Milland).

    Oliver, who has never had a comfortable relationship with his father, marries Jennifer anyway and is disinherited as a consequence (though the film as well as the book suggests that the disinheritance may in fact be a misunderstanding). They go through a pretty rough patch during which Jennifer works as a teacher to support Oliver through law school.

    Eventually Oliver graduates successfully and secures a highly paid position in a prestigious law firm, and it seems like they will live happily ever after. Except ...

    Now, if you have either watched the movie before or read the book, you will know exactly what happens next. Even if you haven't, I think you can guess quite easily, as the film reveals at the very beginning that (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) Jennifer will eventually die and Oliver is left to grieve over his true love.

    The point of the film is not about the plot - what little there is. It's about true love, which means "never having to say you are sorry." (the most oft-quoted line from the book and film) It is a beautifully crafted story and film. I have watched the film maybe half a dozen times and read the book just about as often, but I was still crying my heart out watching this on DVD. So relax, settle on the couch, have a box of tissues handy, and enjoy the film for what it is - a simple love story.

    Incidentally, the film features the screen debut of a very young Tommy Lee Jones as one of Oliver's college friends. There are also some interesting camera angles if you are interested in cinematography: the ice hockey scenes shot from the perspective of an ice hockey puck, the camera angle circling the couple a la The Matrix around 42:33-43:30, and a very long tracking shot across Harvard Yard (for which they had to resurface the yard).

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement. Presumably the original aspect ratio was 1.85:1.

    The film source is somewhat grainy but relatively devoid of scratches or other marks. The transfer itself is watchable, but by no means perfect as it lacks detail and look somewhat dark in places. Colours appear well saturated, and consistent with the film stock of the period, but flesh tones look somewhat brown compared to more recent films.

    There has been some minor edge enhancement applied to the transfer, which probably accentuated the grain. MPEG artefacts are fortunately relatively minor and confined to some ringing around titles.

    As the camera zooms in to a window in a Harvard building around 16:22-16:30, I noticed a fair amount of shaking which could either be telecine wobble or camera shake.

    There are an amazing number of subtitle tracks (I counted 29) accompanying the feature, including a multitude of foreign language subtitles for the film dialogue and even transcripts of the director's commentary into several languages.

    I turned on the English, English for the Hearing Impaired, and English Audio Commentary subtitle tracks briefly. I did not detect huge differences between the first two, and the transcription accuracy is about average (certain words and phrases are missing every now and then, but nothing major). The English Audio Commentary track also tracks the commentary dialogue reasonably well.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at 56:49 and is reasonably well placed although it causes a momentary pause in the film's flow.

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

Audio

    There are a fair number of audio tracks on this disc, all in Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s) (although the tracks themselves appear to be in mono). There are audio tracks in German, English, Spanish, French and Italian as well as an English Audio Commentary track. I listened to the English soundtrack and the Audio Commentary.

    Although the dialogue was reasonably easy to understand and synced at all times, I found the audio track somewhat "tinny" sounding although this did not detract from my enjoyment of the film as it is obviously fairly dialogue focused.

    The original music score by Francis Lai features, of course, the hauntingly beautiful theme song which has since been butchered at thousands of hotel lounges around the world by mediocre pianists. The score features this theme song played in just about every conceivable variation you can imagine, ranging from simple and beautiful piano solos to cheesy and embarrassing.

    Incidentally, the piano crescendo towards the end of the film sounded somewhat distorted but I suspect the distortion is present on the optical audio track and is not a fault of the transfer.

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

Extras

    This disc features a reasonable number of extras, though not enough to qualify as a special or collector's edition. The extras are similar to that available on the Region 1 release of this title.

Menu

    The menus are static but are 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:49)

    This seems to consist of mainly a montage of stills from the film, accompanied by splices of different versions of the theme song. I quite like the feel of this trailer - if I saw this in a cinema I would definitely be tempted to watch the film. There is some dialogue towards the end of the trailer which completely spoils the mood of the trailer though, and then tacked on very tackily at the end is some text listing the Grammy nominations for the film. It is presented in 1.78:1 with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 (mono). The transfer is slightly pixelated and the sound is slightly distorted and accompanied by several clicks and pops.

Featurette - Love Story-A Classic Remembered (14:51)

    This is a retrospective featurette mainly revolving around film excerpts and a video interview with director Arthur Hiller. It is presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0. Surprisingly, it is subtitled into about five languages. The video is also somewhat pixelated in places although the sound quality is not too bad. Incidentally, the film excepts included in the feature exhibit far less grain than the video transfer of the film itself, thus hinting at how good the video transfer of the film could have been if Paramount took some extra care and avoided using edge enhancement. Incidentally there is some overlap in the anecdotes told by Arthur in this featurette with the audio commentary track.

Audio Commentary - Arthur Hiller (Director)

    Director Arthur Hiller provides a fairly informative commentary on the making of the film, behind the scenes anecdotes, and reflections on the scenes. He offers some interesting insights/anecdotes into the hockey playing scenes, Ray Milland's qualms about whether he should wear a hairpiece for the film, Ali McGraw actually learning how to play about 12 bars of music on a keyboard for the film, and suggests that the character of Oliver may be loosely based on that of Al Gore. He talks fairly constantly, so there aren't too many awkward pauses in the audio track.

R4 vs R1

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;

    My preference is for the Region 4 version due to the additional foreign language support. I am unable to comment on relative video and audio transfer quality as I do not have access to the Region 1 edition of this disc.

Summary

    Love Story is the quintessential romantic tearjerker that is still watchable after more than 30 years. It is presented on a disc with mediocre video and audio transfers, but that does include a number of extras comparable to the Region 1 release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Saturday, March 23, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-626D, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-3300
SpeakersFront and rears: B&W CDM7NT; centre: B&W CDMCNT; subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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