The Indian in the Cupboard (1995)

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Released 12-Nov-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family Audio Commentary-director
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Gallery-Photo
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1995
Running Time 92:09
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (55:06) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Frank Oz
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Hal Scardino
Litefoot
Lindsay Crouse
Richard Jenkins
Rishi Bhat
Steve Coogan
David Keith
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Randy Edelman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Catalan Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Portuguese 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 Greek
English
Spanish
French
Hebrew
Croatian
Italian
Portuguese
Slovenian
English Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
French Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

The Indian in the Cupboard is a modern morality tale, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. It concerns a young boy learning some of the tougher lessons of life, including responsibility for one's actions. But it is wrapped in a charming story, so the moral is easy to swallow.

As an aside, I suspect it was a conscious casting choice to make the boy's best friend quite clearly of Indian (well, possibly Pakistani or Sri Lankan) descent, while the "Indian" of the title is clearly identified as a Native American of the Iroquois nation (Onondaga in their language) it's never pointed out, but I liked it.

Our central figure is a young boy, Omri (Hal Scardino), who is celebrating his birthday (I think I counted eight candles on the cake, but he looks a little older than that, maybe nine or ten). He is given a somewhat battered, but serviceable, cupboard by one of his brothers, and his mother (Lindsay Crouse) finds him a key for it we never discover if it is the key or the cupboard that is magical, but clearly one of the two is, because Omri rapidly discovers that placing a figure in the cupboard, locking it, then unlocking it, brings the figure to life. (This magic is never thoroughly explored it is merely a device enabling the rest of the story). The first figure to whom this happens is an Iroquois man, Ohkwahe, meaning Little Bear (Litefoot). Fortunately, Little Bear speaks English very well he learnt it when the Iroquois were employed by the English to fight the French. For him, the year is 1761.

This being, at least on face-value, a children's story, Omri conceals his discovery from his parents and elder brothers, and shares it only with his best friend Patrick (Rishi Bhat). Patrick sees this as great fun, but Omri has already started to realise the awesome responsibilities involved. He is quite distraught when Patrick uses the cupboard to bring a cowboy (David Keith) to life Patrick sees this as making himself a wonderful toy, Omri sees it as taking on responsibility for a human life.

This film can be watched by children and adults, and each will get something from it. It's not the most deeply meaningful film you'll ever watch, but it is definitely a cut above average.

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Transfer Quality

Video

This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. That's not the original theatrical aspect ratio (1.85:1), but is certainly quite close. I didn't notice any egregious framing problems.

The image is rather good, with a bit of grain, but otherwise clear and attractive (a touch of softness makes it more film-like). Shadow detail is good. There's no low-level noise.

Colour is very good, with the expected bright colours in a boy's bedroom coming up well. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are a few tiny film artefacts (such as the white spot at 76:38 and the black mark at 60:10), but they are all small and not disturbing.

There is nothing much in the way of aliasing, no significant moire, and no MPEG artefacts.

There are subtitles in nine languages for the film, including English. I watched the English subtitles pretty much all the way through. They are quite accurate, easy to read (although in a crude bit-mapped font), and well-timed to the dialogue. There are also subtitles for the commentary, but these are only provided in English, Spanish, French, and Italian these are accurate, and in the same font, and in time with the spoken commentary (fewer sync issues here, of course).

The disc is single-sided and RSDL-formatted. The layer change can be found at 55:06. Although it is in the middle of a scene, it is nearly invisible because it occurs with the on-screen characters behind a sheet of rippled glass.

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

Audio

The soundtrack is available in six languages, including English, which is all I listened to. The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1, a remix of the original Dolby Spectral Recording soundtrack.

The dialogue is rather clear and easily understood. There are no audio sync problems. Understandably, I thought the boy's name was Henri (pronounced in the French manner) until I turned on the subtitles I've not come across the name Omri before. There are some unusual names in this family; one of his brothers is named Gili.

Randy Edelman's score is beautifully tailored to the movie. He has drawn on Native American themes, and the result enhances the film. There's some serious bass content in some of the score if you have small front speakers, you'll want your subwoofer on.

There are a few instances of directional sound in the surround speakers, but they are rare. Mostly the surrounds give some depth to the soundscape. The subwoofer doesn't have a lot of explosions to support, so it restricts itself to giving a deep voice to the lowest register of the score.

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

Extras

The extras aren't bad.

Menu

The menu is static and silent, but functional.

Audio Commentary - director Frank Oz

There are some interesting parts to this commentary, but there is quite a bit that's boring and repetitious. He seems amazed at what can be done with blue-screen technology, even though it's fairly old technology I guess he hadn't used it before. Considering that the TV series Land of the Giants was made in 1968, I'm surprised at his amazement.

This commentary is subtitled in four languages I'd like to see that on more commentaries.

Filmographies

Only three filmographies here:

Photo Gallery

Nineteen photos, including a couple showing the blue screen magic at work.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 version of this disc has a full frame version in addition to the widescreen, and some trailers, but it only has Dolby Digital 2.0 (surround-encoded) sound. Its transfer is not given a high rating, so maybe our disc is the superior. Certainly, unless you need a full frame version, you should have no qualms about getting the Region 4 disc.

Summary

The Indian In The Cupboard is an enjoyable film, on a very good DVD.

The video quality is quite good.

The audio quality is very good.

The extras are good enough, but Frank Oz might benefit from scripting his commentaries.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
good - samantha reed
Correction - Anonymous