Storm Boy (1976)
Menu Animation & Audio
Trailer-Playing Beatie Bow
|Year Of Production||1976|
|Running Time||85:06 (Case: 93)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Henri Safran|
South Aust Film Corp
Roadshow Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Storm Boy is a book by Colin Thiele; if you are Australian, you have almost certainly heard of him; if you are from another country it is quite possible you have not. He's a famous Australian author. He writes literature, rather than popular fiction - I use the term literature to distinguish novels that will probably outlive their first readers. Most of his work is for younger readers, children and teenagers, but that doesn't mean adults can't enjoy reading his books. Storm Boy is one of his most popular books, and it has even survived being made part of the curriculum in a number of schools.
I was a bit surprised that they managed to make a movie out of this story - I doubted they'd be able to get the pelicans to behave! They managed, and well.
This is the story of a boy. He is called Mick by his father, Tom (Peter Cummings), and Storm Boy by the Aboriginal loner Fingerbone (Gulpilil) he befriends. He is played marvellously by young Greg Rowe. This boy is growing up in an isolated corrugated iron shed next to a wildlife sanctuary. He lives with his father, who supports them by fishing alone. He is not attending school; he is illiterate and ignorant, and he doesn't know any better. But he seems content with his life, and a little less curious about the outside world than one might expect. There's a telling moment when he brings home a radio that washed up on the beach (he found it while looking for driftwood to burn). His father tells him to throw it away, because if he listens to it, he'll hear advertisements and want things he can't have.
There are intrusions on their life. A mob of idiot bird shooters kill a number of birds before they are scared off by Fingerbone (he shoots near them). Amongst the dead are some pelicans whose chicks are still in the nest. The boy brings them home to care for. His father isn't keen, but permits it. Three pelicans become a lot to feed when they reach maturity, so his father insists on releasing them. Two are never seen again, but one, Mr Percival, keeps coming back.
Another intruder is the new primary school teacher (Judy Dick), brought by the park ranger (Tony Allison) - she is concerned about his education, and pushes hard for him to be sent to school, or at least to do schoolwork by correspondence. She means well, but she is resented by the father - he doesn't want anything to change in their reclusive life.
This is an interesting story, and well worth seeing, but there's a thread of melancholy running through it. I felt doubly melancholy, looking at how badly it has been treated.
This film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and is therefore not 16x9 enhanced. The theatrical aspect ratio was 1.85:1. This film has magnificent scenery of South Australian beaches and wetlands, and it has been butchered into a TV frame. This company's licence to put Australian films on DVD should be rescinded until they start getting it right - this is not the first Australian film they've treated so disgracefully. Looks a lot like a VHS master thrown onto a DVD.
The picture is generally grainy and soft. Shadow detail is, at times, dreadful. There is what looks like low level noise (could be grain) on occasion. Normally, I'll list points where I think the transfer has failed. For a change, I'd like to point out that the picture is rather nice at around 34:39 - because it isn't as nice anywhere else. Oh, it isn't terrible or unwatchable, but it just isn't up to the standards expected of DVD. Yes, it is 25 years old, but it should look better than this.
Colours are a bit dull and lifeless. There are lots of overcast days and dull coloured clothing in this movie, but it should look brighter than this. At times the sky is a bit over-bright - a hot white that has any detail burnt out - almost as though the print had faded and they jacked up the brightness to compensate.
There are continuous tiny film artefacts, but only one worth mentioning: a ring appears for one frame at 56:39 on Greg Rowe's forehead - most peculiar. There are a few MPEG coding errors (look for one at 16:10, for example); they appear as lines across the frame, but they aren't huge - only occupying a few lines of frame. There's some background shimmer, too, but it's not troubling. There's also a little bit of false colouration on the wrought iron lace around 16:05. This is not a particularly good transfer.
There are no subtitles.
The disc is single sided (the cover is repeated on the picture label), and single layered, so there is no layer change.
The soundtrack is only available in English, and even that is Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.
The dialogue is fairly clear and mostly comprehensible, but a few of the lines were somewhat obscured by sound effects. I didn't see any audio sync errors.
Michael Carlos wrote the score. It is pleasant enough stuff, but never draws attention to itself.
There's no surround encoding on this soundtrack, and no LFE track. Your surrounds and subwoofer can take the night off.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is mostly static (there's a small animated portion), with background music. It's easy to operate.
There is just one trailer, and it is not for this film - it is for Playing Beatie Bow (again - they are flogging that film hard).
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This film is not yet released in any other region. That's a shame, because another region's disc would not have to be very good for me to recommend it over this one. All we can do is hope that another region sees fit to treat our films with more respect than we do....
Storm Boy is another Australian film treated to a poor quality DVD.
The video quality is indifferent, and in the wrong aspect ratio.
The audio quality is adequate.
The extra is irrelevant.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-S733A, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|