Gosford Park (2001)
Menu Animation & Audio
Featurette-The Authenticity Of Gosford Park
Featurette-Cast & Filmmaker Q&A Session
Deleted Scenes-+/- commentary
Audio Commentary-Robert Altman, Stephen Altman & David Levy
|Year Of Production||2001|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (83:36)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Robert Altman|
Warner Home Video
Kristin Scott Thomas
Richard E Grant
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, the credits start to roll over the final shot.|
In so many recent offerings, characters are being pared down to the bare necessities, often only represented by a look, and have no more motivation for their actions than a will, desire, or mental state. In Gosford Park every character has their own agenda, and their own detailed history. It is this that takes the majority of the time - developing intricate characters and carefully giving each and every one of them a motivation - and it is fascinating. To watch not only the interaction and power-plays of the well-to-do upstairs people with each other, but the way they interact with their servants, and the way those servants are not only accepting of their positions, but as often as not entirely happy with them. For anyone starved of rich characterisation and annoyed by the tendency of Hollywood to place cardboard-cut-out heroes in front of an audience with the implication we should like them simply because they are there, this movie comes as a refreshing, and meaty, change.
Another thing this movie has going for it is the cast - but then, any movie that can have an actor of the calibre of Derek Jacobi in what amounts to little more than a bit-part is never going to be in any real trouble. The casting is superb - every character is spot on, and all the actors hit high-points in this movie. The stand-outs however are the relative unknowns Kelly Macdonald and Clive Owen - Macdonald especially as she easily handles the pressure associated with being the pseudo lead of this enormous ensemble cast. Her performance as Mary Maceachran is warm and engaging, really helping to provide the movie with an innocence, and at the same time allowing the audience to view the chaos of the servants quarters from her eyes.
Gosford Park is certainly not for everyone. It is very slow - we are talking about a murder mystery with an already thin plot that has been stretched out to over two hours - and the lack of any actual action or plot progression (of the normal type at least) for long periods of time may cause some to become annoyed with it. However, at all times there is plenty happening - every line of dialogue, every look, every action is loaded with meaning and information, and for those looking for something to really sink their teeth into - this movie is it. Gosford Park gets better with every viewing - while the murder mystery plot may have been a second consideration, it is still abundantly present, and this is the type of movie where virtually every viewing brings new insight into how the dialogue beforehand sets up the events, and the eventual conclusions form the end of the film. This is character-based film making at its best, and with so many characters, it will take many viewings to find all the nuances. While its problems justifiably kept it from the Best Picture Oscar, the screen writing award was well deserved, as is the attention of the movie-viewing public.
The first of the problems, and it is by no means a small one, is that the film is presented at 1.78:1 instead of the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It is a "full frame" transfer in that the mattes have been opened to the 1.78:1 ratio, so fortunately no information has actually been lost, however there is never any excuse for changing the aspect ratio of a transfer, and Icon should be ashamed. A small saving grace is that the transfer is 16x9 enhanced.
The entire presentation is quite soft, although a lot of this is due to the original source material and it appeared this way during the theatrical run. Early on there is a very high, and persistent, level of grain that only subsides slightly as the movie progresses. The worst scenes take place outdoors where the sky crawls with grain, however there are many indoor scenes where grain is painfully obvious as well, such as from 86:36 to 86:57. Shadow detail is surprisingly good given the general softness and the high grain levels. While the usual problems of grain escalation are occasionally present, the darker areas of the screen are usually just as clear as the lighter areas. There is no low-level noise present, although on occasion the grain does bring up a similar appearance.
Colours are a contrast of two conditions. Outside, under the grey and oppressive English heavens, the colours are quite muted. This is not aided by the characters being attired almost exclusively in darker colours (hunting greys and browns), and almost no outdoor colour highlights. Indoors, however, where the lighting is carefully controlled, the colours are very good. They display a richness and opulence that seems just right for an old English country mansion.
The only compression artefacts are a number of instances of pixelisation that occur when the grain becomes more obvious, such as at 3:54. Early on, there is almost no aliasing, but as the film progresses and the image clears up somewhat, there are a number of instances that occur, such as on the desk at 75:20, on Mrs Wilson's collar at 81:48, or the car grille at 126:59. These become progressively more obvious until the last few are actually somewhat distracting. There are a number of film artefacts present, but all, such as the small black flecks at 5:04 are small and not particularly distracting.
There are no subtitles on this disc.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change occurring at 83:36 during chapter 13. It is reasonably well placed, as it occurs on a static image with little sound, however there are other locations where it could have been placed without even disturbing the sound.
There are two audio tracks present on this disc, being the original English dialogue presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 (at 448 Kbps), and the audio commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo (at 192 Kbps).
Dialogue is clear at all times, although those that have difficulty with heavy accents should be warned that there are a number of thick Scottish and English accents used in this movie. While they are always clear and easy enough to understand if you are used to them, they could be a source of consternation - certainly not aided by the lack of subtitles.
Audio sync is spot on throughout the transfer and never causes a problem.
The music is credited to Patrick Doyle and is largely period fare, and as such does a very good job of setting the mood and generating the right feelings. There are also a number of Ivor Novello songs used (and played by the character in the film).
The surround use is a little subdued, but for what is a dialogue-driven drama it really is not that much to complain about. There are number of instances of interesting surround use, such as the thunder at the start and the scream of the discovered body that come from different locations in the sound-scape, but all up there is little for the surrounds to do, as both the score and the ambient noises are predominately placed across the front of the soundstage.
The subwoofer has almost nothing to do here, and largely remains dormant.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video quality is not very good, showing too much grain, and being in the wrong aspect ratio.
The audio quality was good without being spectacular. There is little use of the surround channels and almost no subwoofer, although for a dialogue-driven film that is not such a large issue.
The extras are extensive and interesting, making this a very worthwhile package. It is just a shame that the Region 1 is still superior.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using Component output|
|Display||Loewe Xelos 5381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Onkyo TX-DS787, THX Select|
|Speakers||All matching Vifa Drivers: centre 2x6.5" + 1" tweeter (d'appolito); fronts and rears 6.5" + 1" tweeter; centre rear 5" + 1" tweeter; sub 10" (150WRMS)|