When Harry Met Sally: Special Edition/Gold Edition (1989)

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

Released 5-Sep-2001

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Romantic Comedy Menu Animation & Audio
Scene Selection Anim & Audio
Featurette-Making Of-How Harry Met Sally
Audio Commentary-Rob Reiner (Director)
Deleted Scenes-7
Music Video-It Had To Be You-Harry Connick, Jr.
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1989
Running Time 91:33
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (48:12) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Rob Reiner
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Billy Crystal
Meg Ryan
Carrie Fisher
Bruno Kirby
Case DV-4
RPI $36.95 Music Marc Shaiman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Portuguese
Polish
Greek
Hungarian
Hebrew
Turkish
Czech
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    When Harry Met Sally is one of the films that defined the romantic comedy genre. Made in 1989 and starring Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in the title roles, this is a sharp, witty, intelligent, yet simple film that all other romantic comedies since have tried to emulate and usually have failed miserably at. This film contains some of the most memorable and instantly recognisable moments in cinema history. Even if you have not seen this film in its entirety, you would all be familiar with at least one moment. The infamous cafe scene, where Sally fakes a rather convincing orgasm to prove to Harry that most women have done it at some stage and he would not even know, has been lampooned in many movies and commercials over the years.A bit of trivia - the scene features director Rob Reiner's mother as the woman who says 'I'll have what she's having').

    The story starts in 1977 when Chicago college student Harry Burns (Crystal) hitches a ride to New York with Sally Albright (Ryan). Spending eighteen hours on the road gives them plenty of time to talk about many things.Unfortunately, Harry is a bit of a pessimist and can't see the good side of anything. Sally is a perfectionist who is pretty happy with her life. The talk moves to relationships with Harry adamant that men and women cannot be just friends because sex will always get in the way. This is the crux of the story as we follow these two 'opposites' as they slowly build a friendship. They bump into each a few times over the next eleven years, and when they both separate from their current partners, they link up in a purely friendly manner and carry on their discussions about relationships. It's becoming obvious that these two are made for each other, yet they are reluctant to admit it. Will their friendship survive if they take it to the next level?

    Directed by Rob Reiner (A Few Good Men, The American President), with a great script by Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle) that was nominated for an Oscar, and great supporting characters headed by Bruno Kirby and Carrie Fisher, this is a first class comedy that is still enjoyable after many years. My enjoyment of it was helped by the superb video transfer offered in this Special Edition release.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

    I was able to view the original Region 4 Polygram release at the same time as viewing this new Special Edition. It really is enlightening and comforting to see just how far the technology and the quality of DVD has risen in only a couple of years. This release really does shine in the video department and is a significant improvement over the previous version that featured both widescreen and full screen versions on a dual-sided disc.

    Unlike the original R4 release which was presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the Special Edition is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. It is also 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is very finely detailed and exquisitely sharp, with only a couple of scenes hinting at softness. Grain is probably the area that has benefited most from the remastering, being almost non-existent, except in a couple of the outdoor scenes (most notable in the sky at 20:16). There is no low level noise.

    Colours - ah the colours. The scenes outside in New York are without peer. There is one particular scene at 37:44-38:06 that will truly open your eyes as to what trees can look like in their autumn splendour. Deep, rich oranges and browns of all hues leap out of the screen. Blacks are true and deep and there is no hint of oversaturation or bleeding.

    There are no MPEG artefacts and the only blemish in the film to video department was a minor moire effect at 46:14. Film artefacts were probably the biggest disappointment of the transfer. It's not that they were numerous, it's just that they were slightly larger than normal and quite noticeable.
   
    There are 14 subtitle streams present. I sampled the English and English for the Hearing Impaired versions extensively and found them to be mostly accurate.

    The disc is presented as a single sided  picture disc that is dual layered and features RSDL formatting. The layer change is very well hidden at 48:12 It is within a complete fade-to-black scene change.

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

Audio

    The original release of When Harry Met Sally featured a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. This release features a re-mixed Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The original Dolby Stereo soundtrack is not present. There is also a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround commentary track. The soundtrack is very centre-oriented, which being a romantic comedy with a strong dialogue focus is quite important.

    Dialogue is pretty important in this film as it drives most scenes. It is handled very well with no audio sync problems.
   
    The score is credited to Marc Shaiman and features some traditional pieces with contemporary arrangements. There are also songs featured by Harry Connick Jr., particularly It Had To Be You, which add a real funky feel to the soundtrack.

    Despite being a 5.1 track, there is virtually no surround channel use, though it is not missed. The sub lends itself to musical support. Other than that, it remained silent.

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

Extras

Main Menu Animation and Audio

    A small window shows snips from the film with the theme playing in the background in Dolby Digital 2.0. The menu is 16x9 enhanced.

Menu Audio

Featurette - The Making Of

    Presented in an aspect of 1.33:1 with snippets from the film in the same ratio, this is not 16x9 enhanced and comes with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Made in 2000, this featurette has interviews with director Rob Reiner, writer Nora Ephron, and Billy Crystal. Meg Ryan appears in an interview shot during the making of the film in 1988. It is a reasonable retrospective look at the film, and its impact at the time. The total running time is 33:19.

Audio Commentary - Rob Reiner (Director)

    Director Rob Reiner provides a significant amount of information about the making of this film. He appears to be alone while commenting on the film and there are a few occasions where he is silent for a short period, though a whole raft of information is forthcoming. He details how the script was developed, including Billy Crystal's and Meg Ryan's input and why certain scenes occurred the way they did. The best snip of information is his admission during the orgasm scene of how he managed to get Meg Ryan fired up to do the scene and how his mum delivered the best line of them all. A worthy extra.

Deleted Scenes

    A selection of seven deleted scenes that are all presented in an aspect of 1.85:1. They are not 16x9 enhanced. Audio is provided by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. The scenes run for between 25 seconds and 1:42 minutes each. Total running time is 6:51 minutes.

    Most are fairly slow moving, though the highlight is the scene with Harry and Sally 'on the Couch'. Throughout the film, we cut away to elderly couples sitting on a couch discussing how they met. This scene shows Harry and Sally's turn.

Music Video

    The music video to the main credits song 'It Had To Be You' by Harry Connick, Jr. It runs for 2:40 minutes and is presented full frame 1.33:1 with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. It features a large amount of footage from the movie and also Harry Connick, Jr singing at the piano.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is the original US trailer. Running for 2:03 minutes, this is a pretty poor trailer with quality more akin to the original Region 4 release. Surprisingly, doesn't have a voiceover. It relies on the dialogue from the film and a few titles thrown on the screen to sell the story.

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 DVD misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this DVD misses out on;

    The re-released Region 4 disc is the version of choice.

Summary

    The romantic comedy has seen some truly ordinary films over the years. When Harry Met Sally is one that stands out from the pack, due in no small part to its witty dialogue and perfect casting. It's a story that seems as fresh as when it was first released.

    The video is a huge improvement over the original Region 4 release. The remixed audio is perfectly suited to the film without being an over-the-top style soundtrack.

    The extras are of decent quality and quantity and justify the label of Special Edition.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Darren Walters (It's . . . just the vibe . . . of my bio)
Friday, September 21, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 1200, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationHarmon/Kardon AVR7000.
SpeakersFront - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10

Other Reviews
DVD Net - Gavin T

Comments (Add) NONE