Year of the Horse (1997)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 20-Aug-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Theatrical Trailer
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Production Notes
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 107:09 (Case: 106)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (78:51) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Jim Jarmusch

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Neil Young
Billy Talbot
Frank 'Pancho' Sampedro
Ralph Molina
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Neil Young

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.59:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, During

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

Plot Synopsis

    Year Of The Horse is a documentary about the band Neil Young and Crazy Horse, and is comprised of a number of live performances, interviews and historical footage.

    The documentary was produced by Jim Jarmusch (Mystery Train, Dead Man) who is obviously a fan of the band. Jim had previously successfully worked with Neil Young on the soundtrack for Jim's feature film Dead Man and had also produced a number of music videos for the band. Unfortunately, with this documentary, Jim shows why he should stick to making feature films and not documentary pieces.

    The feature contains a number of live performances by the band from their tour for the album Broken Arrow. In addition to these performances, a range of historical footage from the 70s and 80s is included showing older performances and the band touring. A number of interview segments from the members and people associated with the band separate the live performances. Unfortunately, this is the weakest part of the feature. Very little actual information is conveyed during these interview segments and the viewer does not gain any real insight into the band.

    If you are already a Neil Young fan, you will find the live performances enjoyable but you will find that the interviews disrupt the flow of the feature. If you are not familiar with the band's work or are looking for in in-depth documentary examining the history of the band, you should look elsewhere.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Track Listing

1. F@!#in Up
2. Slip Away
3. Barstool Blues
4. Stupid Girl
5. Big Time
6. Tonight’s The Night
7. Sedan Delivery
8. Like A Hurricane
9. Music Arcade

Transfer Quality


    This feature was originally filmed on a number of different formats including 8mm film, 16mm film and Hi8 video. Unfortunately, all of these formats are of inherently low quality and this is emphasized by the development and processing techniques employed. As a result of the choice of source materials and processing techniques utilized by the director, the feature does exhibit significant artefacts but the vast majority of these problems are intentional and not a fault of the DVD mastering process.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.59:1 and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is consistently soft with all footage displaying no fine detail. No low level noise was detected during this transfer. Shadow detail does pose a problem for this transfer with almost no background detail visible during all of the concert footage.

    The images displayed during footage from each of the source types show a washed-out colour palette. The numerous sections of the feature that were shot on 8mm stock are displayed in black and white. Due to the general quality of the material displayed, this is never distracting to the viewer.

    No MPEG artefacts were detected during the transfer. No instances of aliasing were detected during the transfer. A single moiré artefact may be seen at 47:14, but due to its short duration it is only slightly distracting to the viewer.

    Constant film artefacts are visible during the transfer, appearing at all times film-based material is used. Extremely high levels of grain is also constantly visible during all film-based footage. Despite being intentionally placed, these artefacts are quite distracting to the viewer.

    A large number of analogue tape errors may be seen during all the video-based footage used in the feature. Some examples of these errors may be seen at 3:34, 3:41, 3:56, 17:53 and 18:03. Due to their frequency, these artefacts are quite disruptive.

    No subtitles are provided on this disc.

    The layer change occurs at 78:51 at the beginning of Chapter 14 during a fade to black. This layer change is only very slightly distracting.

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


    The default Dolby Digital 448 kbps 5.1 mix is supplemented by the inclusion of a Dolby Digital 192 kbps 2.0 mix. I listened to both audio tracks in full.

    During some of the interview segments, the questions are often hard to understand and the responses occasionally slightly muffled. No dropouts or problems with audio sync were detected during the transfer.

    During the 5.1 mix, the surround channels are used effectively for crowd noises and to reinforce the live performances.

    The subwoofer is used to support the live performances throughout the feature.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The non animated menu is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

Theatrical Trailer (1:39)

    This trailer is presented with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack at an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1.

Interviews (48:44)

    This extra is divided into two separate interview segments presented at an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. During the first interview section (22:00), Crazy Horse band members Frank Sampedro, Billy Talbot and Ralph Molina discuss working together as a band and the filming of this feature. The second segment (26:44) features Neil Young and Jim Jarmusch discussing T-shirts and working on the feature. During both segments, the questions from the interviewer are quite difficult to hear. Both segments display high levels of edge enhancement and some NTSC to PAL conversion artefacts. Analogue tape errors may also be seen at 20:05, 25:14 and 31:18.

Production Notes

    This is a collection of eight pages of production notes by Jim Jarmusch discussing his involvement with the project.

The Band

    This is a thirteen page collection of notes providing background information on the band Crazy Horse.

Biographies / Filmographies

    A collection of short biographies and filmographies are included for Jim Jarmusch, L.A. Johnson, Ray Rabinowitz and Neil Young.

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;


    Year Of The Horse is an unusual feature containing some interesting live performances separated by mundane interview segments.

    The video presented is intentionally of very poor quality and not as a result of the transfer to DVD.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track is acceptable during the live performances but is disappointing during the interview segments.

    The interviews included as extras provide very little interesting information but the inclusion of the biographies and band information provides some useful background details.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Anthony Kable (read my bio)
Thursday, September 13, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplaySony KP-E41SN11. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationFront left/right: ME75b; Center: DA50ES; rear left/right: DA50ES; subwoofer: NAD 2600 (Bridged)
SpeakersFront left/right: VAF DC-X; Center: VAF DC-6; rear left/right: VAF DC-7; subwoofer: Custom NHT-1259

Other Reviews
The DVD Bits - Dean B

Comments (Add) NONE