|Year Of Production||1988|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (55:56)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Programme|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Richard Donner|
Paramount Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Hungarian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
It's Christmas time, or thereabouts, so we should expect a DVD or two with a Christmas theme.
This movie is about, at least in part, the making of a TV special, "from Charles Dickens' immortal classic Scrooge". I fear children may grow up thinking that Charles Dickens wrote a book called "Scrooge". No, he didn't - the book is called "A Christmas Carol".
In "A Christmas Carol", a miserly old man called Ebenezer Scrooge is surprised by a visit from his business partner, Marley. The surprise is mostly due to the fact that Marley has been dead for some time. Turns out that Marley has been suffering for the sins he committed during his life (chief among these, we gather, being a lack of generosity to others). The main purpose of his visit is to warn Scrooge that Marley's sins are as naught by comparison to Scrooge's, but Scrooge is being given one last chance to redeem himself (I don't think the book ever explores why Scrooge has drawn the "get out of jail at considerable cost" card - why does he rate a last chance?). Scrooge will receive three visits, from three ghosts: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Future. The first shows Scrooge what he left behind, the second shows Scrooge how other people celebrate Christmas, and the last shows Scrooge what will happen if he doesn't change. Scrooge is a changed man after these experiences, and turns over a new leaf. Fade down and roll credits.
This movie takes a slightly different take on the old story, and has some fun along the way.
Our protagonist here is Francis Xavier Cross (Bill Murray), a rampaging type-A person who is president of a TV network. His office has a quote printed on one wall: "cross: a thing they nail people to". He fires someone (Bobcat Goldthwait) on Christmas Eve, and when his PA points this out his gratitude is limited to being able to stop the victim's Christmas bonus. His network's Christmas showing includes Santa and the elves defending the North Pole with M16 assault rifles and Lee Majors. He replaces a warm and friendly ad for their special Christmas "Scrooge" show with one that features atomic bombs, a aircraft exploding, and drug addicts shooting up. Yep, he's not a nice person. He works for Preston Rhinelander (Robert Mitchum), something of an obsessive old fool.
As you would expect, Frank is our Scrooge character. He is visited by his previous boss (dead seven years after a heart attack on a golf course), and he is visited by three Ghosts. These Ghosts are a bit different. Christmas Past is David Johansen - the kind of taxi driver you could do without. Christmas Present is Carol Kane - a fairy with attitude. There is rather more physical violence in this version than the original.
Frank is reunited with his old flame, Claire Phillips (Karen Allen), who left him because he cared more about his work than her. Well, it is an American variation on the story...
I rather liked the street buskers that Frank abuses as he is strolling along the street - you don't often get to see Miles Davis, Paul Shaffer, Larry Carlton, and David Sanborn busking.
In essence, this is an amusing retelling of the story, and one which gives Bill Murray ample scope to overact to his hearts delight.
This move is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.
The picture is beautifully sharp, with excellent shadow detail. There is no low level noise in the transfer and it is a delight to look at.
Colour is strong and well-saturated with no colour bleed.
There are no significant film artefacts in the transfer and although there are moments of aliasing, they are barely visible. There are no MPEG artefacts in the transfer nor any other artefacts worth mentioning. This is a clean transfer.
There are subtitles in 17 languages, including English. The English subtitles and captions are attractive, accurate and well-timed.
The disc is single-sided, dual layer and is RSDL formatted. The layer change is located at 55:56, at a scene change. On one DVD player the layer change is invisible; on another it is visible, but not at all troubling.
The English soundtrack is Dolby Digital 5.1 and that is what I listened to.
The dialogue is almost always easy to understand and there are no visible audio sync issues. There's one instance where Carol Kane says (according to the subtitles) "Holland", but it sounds like "Harlem" - it is possible that the subtitles are wrong, of course.
Danny Elfman's score is well integrated in the story, with quotes from a number of Christmas carols and popular Christmas songs.
The soundtrack is mostly frontal, with surrounds providing a bit of depth, but there are only a couple moments with real directional surround sound. Given that the closing credits mention Dolby Stereo in some theatres, the lack of detailed surrounds is unsurprising. The subwoofer gets enough to do to keep it awake, but it never draws attention to itself.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menu is static and silent.
A simple trailer, not quite as good quality as the movie.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 disc is close to identical to this one. It has the exact same features, the same artwork on the cover and disc, the same chapter stops, and the same sound mix. The Region 1 video shows traces of edge enhancement (the Region 4 does not), and slightly more contrast (it looks a bit harsher). We get a lot more languages, both on soundtracks and subtitles.
The Region 4 disc is slightly better, but if you have the Region 1 - keep it, as it is almost as good.
A reasonable movie, presented nicely on DVD. Seasonally appropriate.
The video quality is excellent.
The audio quality is excellent, but not particularly directional.
The extras are negligible.
|DVD||Arcam DV88, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|