Beautiful Mind, A: Two Disc Awards Edition (2001)

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Released 23-Oct-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Menu Animation & Audio
Audio Commentary-Ron Howard (Director)
Audio Commentary-Akiva Goldsman (Screenwriter)
Deleted Scenes-+/- Director's Commentary
Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Featurette-A Beautiful Partnership-Ron Howard & Brian Grazer
Featurette-Development Of The Screenplay
Featurette-Meeting John Nash
Featurette-Accepting The Nobel Prize In Economics
Featurette-Casting Russell Crowe & Jennifer Connelly
Featurette-The Process Of Age Progression
Storyboard Comparisons-5 + introduction
Featurette-Creation Of The Special Effects
Featurette-Scoring The Film
Featurette-Inside A Beautiful Mind
Featurette-Academy Awards (4)
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-A Beautiful Mind Soundtrack
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 129:51
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (68:48)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Ron Howard
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Russell Crowe
Jennifer Connelly
Ed Harris
Paul Bettany
Adam Goldberg
Christopher Plummer
Judd Hirsch
Anthony Rapp
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual-Secure Clip
RPI $39.95 Music James Horner


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary 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 English
Hungarian
English Audio Commentary
English Audio Commentary
English Titling
Hungarian Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    A little while ago, I reviewed the rental version of this film. The film's transfer is identical, but now we have a lot more extras in offer. Here is the plot synopsis in case you have forgotten....

    A Beautiful Mind - Academy Award winner for Best Picture, 2001. A worthy winner? It is up to you. Some may believe that it was deserved, some may think it not and some may think that it was American patriotism on behalf of the Academy. Whatever stance you take, you must concur that A Beautiful Mind is a quality film, if nothing else. Subtle direction, outstanding performances, wonderful score, beautiful effects and an amazing story certainly makes one think that this picture was a worthy winner.

    Unless you have been living in isolation for the last 6-12 months, you will know that A Beautiful Mind recounts the life story of John Forbes Nash, Jr - a mathematical genius who has been haunted by schizophrenia for most of his adult life. The Nash economic equilibrium (Game Theory), which he discovered in 1948, was a breakthrough in the way we think about economics on a global scale, even today. Nash's Game Theory, in actual practice, does not get implemented in most economic situations as it tends to combat the capitalist ideal. As the western world is built on this foundation, Nash's Game Theory, while it is clearly the most effective correct method, does not see the light of day in too many economic negotiations. His works are recognised and used in many other circumstances that are not directly involved with economic theory.

    The film focuses more on Nash's battle with schizophrenia than his genius, but director Ron Howard still gives Nash the respect that his prior work deserves and does not make Nash's delusional reality the main point of the film. Rarely does he show Nash holding a conversation with thin air, and deals with schizophrenia as a disease, rather than a side-show attraction.

    Howard was a deserved winner of Best Director last year- even if he wasn't the most deserved. One would have to say that Peter Jackson's Fellowship of The Ring was a more amazing feat, and Baz Luhrman pushed more boundaries with Moulin Rouge, but Howard's effort here is still one to savour. He is thoughtful, precise and structured throughout. Howard, by his own admission in the audio commentary, describes how some of the film's most important moments were structured by fate, more than design. Howard was amazed when audiences in test screenings were not convinced that the characters of Parcher, Charles, and Marcee were imagined until the 'baby in the bath' scene. When he realised this, we went back to editing room and built up a lot of suspenseful moments to climax at this point, keeping the audience guessing until that very moment. Originally, the audience was meant to know the complete truth much earlier. In the end, I guess the courage shown by Howard to make this change and risk the wrath of a 'smarter' audience was a brave one.

    Russell Crowe is simply magnificent in this film. He steers away from playing this role in a way that is at all clichéd. His bouts of paranoia are subtle yet strong, and he makes the audience feel for Nash instead of being scared or amused by him. A lot of this structure comes from Howard and writer Akiva Goldsman, but it is Crowe who truly delivers in this performance. From his nervous mannerisms to Nash's social bigotry, Crowe shows a variety of different sides to the character that gel together seamlessly.

    Jennifer Connelly is equally brilliant (and stunningly beautiful) as Alicia Nash. She plays her role in as real and honest a way as as she can  She makes us love her and get a sense of what it is like to live with and love someone with schizophrenia for so many years. She is thoroughly a deserved winner at the Oscars last year - finally some recognition for years of solid work.

    Other great performances come from Ed Harris (but of course!) and Paul Bettany, who turns another great performance in as Nash's room mate Charles Herman. If anyone has read my review of Gangster Number One, you will know what I think of his talent.

    John Forbes Nash Jr, if you take this screenplay as gospel, is a poor innocent mathematical genius who sadly fell victim to a terrible disease. Through the love of his beautiful wife, he learned to deal with his afflictions and come out the other side with a Nobel Prize and a clear conscious. In reality, this brief summation is a complete fabrication. Accusations of homosexual affairs, illegitimate children and numerous marriages are abound to let us know that maybe A Beautiful Mind does not tell us the full story, but it is up to you to decide whether that matters to you. Personally, I still love the film and think that is a great work from a fantastic cast and its director.

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Transfer Quality

Video

        The video transfer of this film is bright, crisp and clear with some mild imperfections - none of which are of major concern, but are definitely noticeable.
 
    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    There are no problems with the sharpness of this transfer. The source material is sharp and clear throughout the feature- kudos to cinematographer Roger Deakins, who turns in a superb performance behind the camera. Shadow detail is excellent throughout with a prime example of perfect shadow detail to be found at 32:00. There is no low level noise in the inky blacks, but there is some noticeable edge enhancement at 40:52, 41:00, 50:45, 122:10. At times there is some very light grain, but nothing worth mentioning here.

    The colours are solid throughout, with flesh tones and the like being very constant. There are no instances of colour bleed or anything to mar the superb work by Roger Deakins. 

    There were no MPEG artefacts seen. Aliasing is very mild, with the only observed instances being at 11:18, 71:17, 71:23 and 98:39. The period in which a lot of this film is set is usually a land mine for aliasing, as there is a lot of chrome and cars with big fat grilles on the front. Picket fences, and park benches aplenty - all there to make DVD reviewers like me mad. The fact that there are only 4 (very mild) instances of aliasing throughout the picture is a tribute to the success of this transfer. There is a very quick shot with some moiré effect at 67:49, but that is about it - there are no major film artefacts that are out of the ordinary, and the rest is clean and clear.

    I watched about 10 -15 minutes of the subtitles and found them to be fairly accurate to the spoken word.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change found at 68:48.
 
    In summary, this PAL video transfer is FAR superior to my NTSC Region 1 disc. As this film has a lot of natural light, usually coming from the side of the screen, whenever an actor moves one way or another there is a sickening level of NTSC-related artefacts such as 3:2 pull-down or judder haloing the actor's body. It almost makes the film completely unwatchable, and I am very disappointed that I bought it. Apart from this atrocity, the transfers seem identical with the same artefacts appearing in the same places.

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

Audio

    This audio transfer is a very solid effort and delivers all channels very well.

    There are a number of audio tracks recorded on this disc, I listened to the English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack plus the two audio commentaries by Director Ron Howard and Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, and there were no problems with audio sync.

    The musical score by James Horner is fantastic. From the beautiful overture that plays during the logos at the start of the film, right through to the end credits, Horner creates a score that challenges the more conventional musical cues found in modern films. During tense scenes, he often uses lighter, more relaxing music, as opposed to introducing a louder, more aggressive feel.

    The surround channels are used very well throughout the feature. A very dialogue-based film, the surrounds are used to add atmosphere only with whispering voices and and other background noise.

    The subwoofer is not called on too much, but when it is, it performs well. It is mainly used during the one or two action scenes and whenever Nash has an epiphany.

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

Extras

 Menu

    A stylish menu which has a montage of many shots from the film with James Horner's score playing over the top.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary- Ron Howard  (Director)

    This commentary features Ron Howard in the centre channel speaking over the film's Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. He covers topics from shooting schedules to his amazement for Russell Crowe and the rest of the cast as well as plenty of comments comparing the screenplay to the actual life of John Nash. Howard always has plenty to say, and keeps the commentary going along nicely.

Audio Commentary- Akiva Goldsman   (Screenwriter)

    Like the Ron Howard commentary, this commentary features Akiva Goldsman in the centre channel speaking over the film's Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack. Goldsman discusses how he wrote the screenplay and gives a commentary on where his inspiration came for plenty of the scenes.  

Deleted Scenes

    This collection of 8 deleted scenes can be viewed with or without commentary by director Ron Howard. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and not 16x9 enhanced, there are 28:10 minutes of deleted scenes. Howard talks about why each scene was cut from the film, and also what stage of production it was at when the decision was made to cut it. Most of the scenes contain terrible film artefacts, but are a very nice collection to have.

Cast & Crew Biographies

    These biographies offer a solid background for plenty of the cast and crew, from Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Akiva Goldsman and all of the top billing members of the cast.

Production Notes

    The usual kind- interesting, but nothing to wow you.

Disc 2

    All of the featurettes on this disc are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, non 16x9 Enhanced with a 192kb/s English Dolby Surround 2.0 soundtrack. They all suffer from aliasing to some degree and have clips of the film presented in a ratio of 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced.

Featurette- A Beautiful Partnership: Ron Howard & Brian Grazer    (5:26)

    Featuring Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, this featurette talks about the working relationship between these long-time collaborators. It features plenty of behind-the-scenes shots from the film and talks about the production of A Beautiful Mind.

Featurette- Development of the Screenplay    (8:19)

    This featurette is different from most 'how to write a screenplay' productions, as it features Akiva Goldsman actually talking about how he decided to tell the story, not just how he wrote it.

Featurette- Meeting John Nash    (8:29)

    Before making the film, Ron Howard wanted to meet with the real John Nash to discuss his equilibrium theories in more detail. After asking permission, he took along a video camera and taped Nash talking about his theories. More mathematically minded people may understand what Nash is talking about, but it goes right over my meagre little mind. Howard seems to have a grasp on what he is talking about, but you get the feeling he is well prepared to simply smile and nod.

Featurette- Accepting the Nobel Prize for Economics    (1:58)

    This is the actual footage from when Nash accepted his Nobel Prize in 1994. I am sort of surprised that this is included on the DVD, as it confirms that Nash did not make a speech at the Awards ceremony and therefore makes on the film's key scenes irrelevant. Further, it confirms how much this story has been dramatized.

Featurette- Casting Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly    (6:01)

    Featuring shots of Crowe and Connelly, this features Howard and Grazer talking about how important it is to cast the right people at the right time and how they felt about working with these two actors.

Featurette- The Process of Age Progression    (8:29)

    Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and make up artist Greg Cannom discuss the make up effects used through this film. Cannom takes us through the 9 stages of makeup used for Russell Crowe during this film and talks about how he was able to produce such a realistic look throughout the film.

Featurette- Creation of the Special Effects    (10:47)

    This is my favourite of the featurettes on this disc. Again, Howard and Grazer introduce Kevin Mack from Digital Domain who takes us through most of the important effects shots found in the film. He does not use as much techno talk as most people and really shows us how some of the effects for the film were done.

Featurette- Scoring the Film    (5:58)

    With actual shots of James Horner scoring the film with Charlotte Church, this is another really interesting piece that shows some useful information.

Featurette- Inside A Beautiful Mind    (22:32)

    This is your more regular behind-the-scenes made-for-TV documentary. It heavily uses the phrases 'I always wanted to work with...',   'He is such a fabulous director....' and 'It was such a great script...'. But I guess it is better than nothing.

Storyboard Comparisons    (5)

    Here are 5 story board comparisons. Three are from scenes directly from the film: The Pub Scene, Nash Meets Dr Rosen and Baby in the Bathtub; while two are from deleted scenes: Nash and Parcher Dispose of the car and Alicia and the Disappearing Audience. 

Academy Awards

    A Beautiful Mind took home four of the major awards at last year's Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. Here you can see their press conferences immediately afterward, and the actual presentation of Best Picture from the ceremony.

Theatrical Trailer    (2:17)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced, this trailer plays very well and was one of my favourites of last year. This transfer suffers from grain, aliasing and film artefacts.
 

A Beautiful Mind Soundtrack    (00:33)

    Simply an ad for the soundtrack and nothing more.

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:     With almost identical extras and the far superior PAL transfer, I would strongly advise that you purchase the Region 4 disc in this case. The subtitles on disc 2 are actually very handy, and you are not missing much in terms of the Universal Now Showing clips. Region 4 is the clear winner here.

Summary

    A Beautiful Mind, in some people's eyes, was not a worthy winner of Best Picture at last year's Oscars compared to its competitors in that category. Whatever your opinion, it is difficult to find too much fault with the Direction, Production, Effects or the Performances in this movie. It is most definitely a quality film, with a remarkable storyline, that has been superbly put together.

    The video transfer is excellent, but mildly flawed.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    The extras are numerous and for the most part, very entertaining. A lot of effort has gone into them.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Hugh Fotheringham (what the hell is going on in bio??)
Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S525, using Component output
DisplayLoewe Xelos (81cm) 16:9. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS797- THX Select
SpeakersJamo X550 Left and Right, Jamo X5CEN Centre, Jamo X510 Surround

Other Reviews
region4dvd.net - Darren R (read my bio (fun for the whole family))
DVD Net - Terry K

Comments (Add)
beautiful Jennifer -
No more electronic subtitles for place names, please! - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
No Scene Access- how come? -
Faulty? -
Labyrinth R2 U.K. Superbit (Jennifer Connelly's earlier work) - Ben H (My biography. Go on have a read...)
God awful packaging! -