Hearts in Atlantis (2001)

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Released 16-Jul-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Canyon
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Listing-Cast & Crew
Audio Commentary-Scott Hicks (Director)
Featurette-Scott Hicks interviews Anthony Hopkins
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 96:50 (Case: 92)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (28:56) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Scott Hicks

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Anthony Hopkins
Anton Yelchin
Hope Davis
Mika Boorem
David Morse
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Mychael Danna

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes, part of the plot
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Hearts in Atlantis is a quirky film based on a book by Stephen King. It's about mysterious strangers, childhood friends and childhood memories, love and betrayal and forgiveness, kindness and brutal acts and dark secrets.

    Most of the film is a flashback told from the perspective of an adult Bobby Garfield (David Morse) who learns that his childhood friend John (Will Rothhaar) has recently been killed in an accident and has left him an old kid's baseball glove in his will. Attending the funeral, he is staggered to learn that another childhood friend, Carol Gerber (Mika Boorem), also died several years ago. His remorse at the loss of his childhood companions leads him back to the old house where he grew up and which is now in ruins. His memories come flooding back and form the basis of the rest of the film.

    Young Bobby (Anton Yelchin) lives with his mother Liz (Hope Davis). His father died several years ago and his mother is struggling to bring him up as a single parent. One day a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) arrives who has rented the apartment upstairs in the house they live. Bobby befriends Ted even though his mother distrusts him.

    Bobby is disappointed that he did not receive a bicycle on his birthday so Ted offers to pay him a dollar a day if Bobby would read the daily newspaper aloud to Ted (ostensibly because Ted has failing eyesight). Ted also asks Bobby to look out for "low men" - sinister faceless nondescript men driving flash cars who are out to capture Ted.

    Bobby is at first sceptical of Ted's outlandish "bogeyman" story and suspects Ted is teasing him. However, it soon becomes apparent that Ted is strange and seem to possess special powers - including the ability to forecast the outcome of future events and to read the innermost thoughts and secrets of others.

    Most of the film actually focuses on Bobby's friendship with Ted as well as his childhood friends and may seem to be slow-moving. However, everything comes to a head in the last half hour which ties all the elements of the story together and brings it to a suspenseful close.

    The book itself consists of a set of stories (four novellas and one short story) - the film adapts and combines the first and final stories ("Low Men In Yellow Coats" and "Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling"). In doing so the film humanizes the story (the book implies that some of the characters are extraterrestrials) but also leaves some questions unanswered - for example, how did the adult Carol die?

    Incidentally, this film inadvertently showcases how global the filmmaking process is these days. Even though the story is rooted in America, the director (Scott Hicks) and producer (Kerry Heysen) are Australian (and Scott was born in Africa), the leading stars are played by a British born veteran actor (Anthony Hopkins) and Russian born child (Anton Yelchin), the cinematographer is Polish (Piotr Soscinski) and the composer of the musical score (Mychael Danna) is Canadian.

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Transfer Quality


    This is a superb and basically reference quality transfer presented in widescreen 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement. IMDb states that this is the intended aspect ratio based on a Super 35 film format, but adds that theatrical prints included both film and digital formats (DLP 1280 x 1024, 1.9:1 anamorphic) - I wonder whether the transfer has been taken from the same telecine transfer used for the digital print.

    In any case, the transfer is very good and basically near perfect. Detail levels are extremely high - I really felt like I was actually in a cinema because the images were so sharp. For example, when Bobby opens the letter delivering the sad news about the death of his friend at 2:19-2:24 I can clearly read the contents of the letter even though it is a small font. Elsewhere in the film we get treated to gorgeous low level detail like wood grain, reflections from glass surfaces, dirt on the ground, cloth textures, and so forth. A lot of the film is shot in film noir-like dark conditions, and the black levels and shadow detail are superb. Finally, colour saturation is just about perfect and shows off the slightly golden tone of the print very well.

    The only artefacts I can perceive are very very minor - basically some shimmering in the window blinds in the background at 20:33-20:46, and some very faint haloing around some objects. Film grain is extremely minor and never intrusive.

    There is an English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle track available which I enabled for a brief period to confirm its existence.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs fairly early on at 28:56 and is reasonably well placed as it occurs during a natural pause in the film.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two audio tracks on this disc: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s), and English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded (192Kb/s). I listened to both tracks.

    The audio transfer for the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is also superb, matching the video transfer quality. The dialogue quality is consistently high and I never once was tempted to switch on the subtitle track to try and find out what the characters were saying.

    The audio track is obviously very dialogue focused but has been edited with care and intelligence. The rear speakers were mostly used for reproducing ambience in the musical score, but opportunities to use them for Foley effects were generally taken up, such as the thunderstorm around 59:55. During the scene where Ted is counting a famous baseball game featuring Bronko Nagurski around 25:51-27:20, the soundtrack slowly mixes in the sounds of the baseball game into all speakers.

    I did not detect any issues with audio synchronization.

    The musical score by Mychael Danna is fairly understated and fits the mood of the film well. The film also makes use of a number of pop songs popular during the period it is set in to help us get into the era.

    The subwoofer is only lightly utilised as this is not an action movie, but supplements the soundtrack well.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    This disc has a pleasing set of extras - not quite enough for a Collector's Edition but each item is worthwhile.


    The menus are static and 16x9 enhanced. The main menu includes background audio. Unfortunately we are saddled with the rather longish (not to mention loud) Roadshow Entertainment trailer that plays when you first insert the disc - you can't skip it but you can fast forward through it.

Dolby Digital Trailer-Canyon

    This is the standard (and super loud) Dolby Digital trailer, designed especially to wake up your amplifiers and subwoofer just in case they are asleep :-)

Filmographies-Cast & Crew

    These are a number of stills providing brief filmographies of:

Listing-Cast & Crew,

    This consist of two stills providing a listing of major cast and crew members.

Audio Commentary - Scott Hicks (Director)

    Scott is a fairly measured and quiet speaker. He doesn't crowd the commentary track by speaking too fast, or saying too much, but gently unfolds his comments at the same stately pace as the film itself. His commentary is a mixture of insights into the plot as well as the filmmaking process (sets, cinematography, casting, acting). He points out some subtle points in the film just in case we missed them - the use of his sons in the photo in the adult Bobby's apartment, the use and significance of mirrors in the film, the moth that initially appeared around 12 minutes into the film was initially real and later occurrences were digitally created, which scenes were ad libbed, the boy who bought the bicycle is later shown delivering newspapers on it, and so forth. Apart from a few minor pauses, Scott speaks fairly continuously throughout the entire film (even during the closing titles!).

Featurette - Scott Hicks interviews Anthony Hopkins (29:49)

    This is a fairly extensive and very enjoyable conversation between Scott Hicks and Anthony Hopkins, conducted with Scott playing a fairly passive role as an "interviewer" together with relevant excerpts from the film. They talk about the casting of Anton Yelchin and how remarkable he is as an actor. Anthony talks a lot about his career, acting techniques, how he used his memories of his own grandfather, and even muses whether he has any psychic powers! It is presented in full frame (but the film excerpts are presented in 2.35:1 letterboxed) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (192 Kbps).


    This is a set of 20 stills of the cast and crew shot during the production of the film.

Theatrical Trailer (2:23)

    The video and audio transfers of this trailer are superb (as good as for the main feature). The trailer itself is presented in 2.35:1 with 16x9 enhancement and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded (192 Kbps).

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;

    Given that there are no significant differences between the two versions, I would be inclined to recommend the Region 4 version due to the PAL formatting and lower price.


    Hearts In Atlantis is a quirky film based on a Stephen King book of interconnected stories. It will warm your heart and make you feel uneasy at the same time, although I suspect some may find it a bit too slow moving. It is presented on a DVD with reference quality audio and video transfers, and a reasonable helping of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Sunday, June 30, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS905V, 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

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Martin F (read my bio)
Web Wombat - James A
The DVD Bits - Dean B
Michael D's Region 4 DVD Info Page - Colin Johnson
DVD Plaza - Anthony C (read my bio)
DVDownUnder - Cassandra N
Jeff K's Australian DVD Info Site - Kevin S

Comments (Add)
anomonoyus comment - DarkEye (This bio says: Death to DNR!)