The Hairy Bird (1998)

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Released 10-Sep-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Interviews-Cast & Crew
Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 92:49 (Case: 96)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sarah Kernochan

Magna Home Entertainment
Starring Gaby Hoffmann
Kirsten Dunst
Lynn Redgrave
Rachael Leigh Cook
Monica Keena
Heather Matarazzo
Merritt Wever
Case Click
RPI $29.95 Music Graeme Revell

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking Yes, set in 1963...
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    The Hairy Bird is is a little gem of a movie. Oh, it's a little crass, a little subversive, and a little childish, but it is dealing with teenagers, so all that should be expected. Even so, this is rather better than you might expect.

    The movie of which this reminded me the most was Dead Poets Society, but without the most serious content - this film is entertaining and comical, with a delicate undercurrent of seriousness. If you can imagine Dead Poets Society without the tragedy, then you will have an idea of what this film is like.

    The acting is excellent. Kirsten Dunst makes a superlative trouble-maker. Lynn Redgrave has a superb role as the headmistress - she gets some of the best lines. Rachael Leigh Cook plays against type as the dutiful school prefect. Gaby Hoffman is the new kid in the school, and we meet everyone else as we follow her around.

    The movie is set in 1963, at a girls-only school called Miss Godard's. Odette (the back cover says Ondine, but that's an error) has been sent to the school to prevent her consummating her passions with her boyfriend. She becomes friends with Verena, Momo, Tinka, and Tweety, who have formed their own private group. They aren't evil, just nonconformist. Verena is perhaps the most radical - she is convinced that there is more to life than marriage, 2.5 children, 2 cars, and a collie. She's violently opposed to the union of Miss Godard's with St Ambrose (a boys' school), because she is convinced it will result in the girls taking second place to the boys. So she decides to take action... 

    You may want to know what "the hairy bird" is - sorry, I'm not going to tell you. It's probably the most crass part of the entire movie, but you'll have to watch it to find out.

    This is a sweet little story, and one which you will enjoy, especially if you believe in gender equality. 

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Transfer Quality


    I must start with the bad news - this movie has not been treated with the respect it deserves. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, probably panned and scanned from its original aspect ratio, which was 1.85:1. There are some scenes which make it quite clear that we are seeing only part of the picture. This is not why we buy DVDs. What we should have here is a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with 16x9 enhancement.

    The video is beautifully sharp, with excellent shadow detail. There is no low-level noise. There is no visible edge enhancement.

    The colours are equally beautiful - vivid and fully-saturated. There is no trace of colour bleed or over-saturation.

    There are no visible film artefacts, and no MPEG artefacts. The only artefact I saw in the whole movie was aliasing. There's quite a bit of aliasing, but it is not really annoying. I guess it depends if aliasing really bothers you. 

    There are no subtitle tracks.

    The disc is single sided and single layered. That's OK - there's not enough content to trouble the single layer. It means no layer change, which is good.

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


    There is one soundtrack: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (not surround encoded) at 224 kbps, which makes choosing a soundtrack straightforward.

    Dialogue is clear and comprehensible. There are moments when you must listen a little carefully to understand all the words - there are moments displaying extensive vocabulary, both English, and teenage. I rather liked the retort: "up your ziggy with a wah-wah brush".

    The score is by Graeme Revell. It is pleasant enough, but the stars of the music are mostly songs from the period. 

    The soundtrack is not surround encoded. It is stereo, but even the stereo spread is minimal. The surround speakers and subwoofer are not used. That's OK, because the movie is completely devoid of explosions.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menus are all animated, with sound.

Trailer (1:54)

    This is a normal trailer - don't watch it before the movie, because it gives away a few points of the plot..

Featurette (8:16)

    A standard style of featurette, including behind-the-scenes shots, and some interviews. This is a small notch above the average featurette, but it's probably only worth a single viewing.

Interviews (7:34)

    Brief sound-bites from each of the major participants in this movie. These would be more interesting if we hadn't seen most of them in the featurette. The people involved are:

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 disc has a different name (in the US this movie was called All I Wanna Do, although its title in IMDB is Strike!), but it is presented in the correct aspect ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. I think that's an emphatic win to the R1 contingent.


    The Hairy Bird is a good fun movie, presented nicely on DVD (except for the aspect ratio).

    The video quality is excellent, except for the criminally incorrect aspect ratio.

    The audio quality is rather good.

    The extras are OK.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, September 15, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, 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 and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

Other Reviews NONE
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