American Grafitti: Collector's Edition (1973)
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of American Graffiti (78:08)
Biographies-Cast & Crew
|Year Of Production||1973|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (86:04)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||George Lucas|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Paul Le Mat
Charlie Martin Smith
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Released with the tag-line "Where were you in '62?", American Graffiti is set on the eve of the loss of innocence of the American Public - the eve of the Vietnam war and the assassination of Kennedy. With the so-called "New Hollywood" of the early 70s contributing to the decline of the studio system of the 50s and 60s, and reflecting the cultural turmoil of the times by producing some violent and downbeat movies, American Graffiti took the movie-going public to a time when life was simpler, and movies made you feel good - teenagerhood in the 50s and early 60s.
Featuring very little in the way of plot, the movie follows the travels of four young men in separate but linked stories over the course of a summer night in a small American town. Richard Dreyfuss (Jaws) is Curt Henderson and Ron Howard (Richie from "Happy Days") plays Steve Bolander, and for them, it is the last night at home before setting off interstate for college. Steve has to deal with leaving his high school sweetheart, Laurie (Cindy Williams, aka Shirley from "Laverne & Shirley"), whilst Curt is getting cold feet about making the break. John Milner (Paul Le Mat) on the other hand, is a little older, and he continues to cruise the strip in the fastest car around, that is, until Bob Falfa (Harrison Ford) comes to town, looking to strip him of the mantle. In the meantime, John ducks and weaves after being stuck with the 14 year old Carol (Mackenzie Philips), whom he finds himself babysitting after an attempt to pick up some girls went horribly wrong. Charles Martin Smith (The Untouchables) as Terry "The Toad" Fields has problems dealing with his own geekiness, that is until Steve entrusts him with his car, and he picks up the gorgeous Debbie, played by Candy Clark (The Man Who Fell To Earth). Whilst spending their evening cruising the strip and hanging out at the local burger joint, the town listens to the local pirate radio station (helmed by legendary DJ Wolfman Jack), and thus there is an instant soundtrack of wall-to-wall 50s classics to accompany the action.
Occasional director George Lucas had come to making this movie from the sterile THX 1138, and proved definitively that he could in fact make a technically exciting movie with a heart and on a budget. This led directly to the smash that was Star Wars, and although the comparisons are not obvious, Star Wars fans should be thankful for the existence of American Graffiti and the lessons that it taught its creator. In following his group of teenagers around for the night, Lucas has created a brilliant and original coming-of-age movie: the characters have to get over their respective obstacles, and in doing so, they share the universal problems of the passage from childhood to adulthood; they must deal with their fear of change, and cope with the inevitable loss of innocence. As noted above, these are things that historically were about to confront the American people as a whole, and American Graffiti not only stands as a wonderful piece of entertainment, it also represents something of a historical milestone both in filmmaking (just look above for the number of careers that it launched) as well as a cultural record of both the time in which the movie was set as well as when it was made.
As is often the case, this classic movie was followed by a lesser sequel in 1979, More American Graffiti, taking a look at the lives of most of the main characters in the Vietnam years. It was somewhat experimental in its presentation, and received mixed reviews. George Lucas does not appear to have been involved in its production. In the way of Lucas trivia from the original, look for the number plate of John Milner's yellow Ford, as well as a little plug for producer Francis Coppola at the cinema next to where the vandalized police car is parked.
The feature is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. The almost ever-present grain (together with lots of hand-held camera work) lends a real documentary feel to the movie, and although it wasn't the sharpest transfer I've ever seen, the age of the movie and the intention of the filmmakers meant that what is seen on the DVD is probably fairly close to what was shot almost 30 years ago. Overall, this movie was very dark, and age and the film stock itself means that shadow detail is not great, but this is in keeping with the somewhat diffuse nature of the balance of the image. Low level noise was not a concern.
For the first couple of minutes of the movie, set late in the afternoon, the colour seems to be a little oversaturated, however, once night falls, this problem gives way to a fairly bright and well represented colour spectrum. Age seems to have dulled the colour a little, but there are plenty of bright 50s colours (including the cars and the clothes), and whilst I wouldn't go so far as to call the palette vibrant, it is reasonably good, bearing in mind the minimal lighting. Black are a little on the brown side, however, 30 years can do that to a movie.
There were no MPEG artefacts to be found, and the only film-to-video artefact that I could spot was a little aliasing on Steve's check shirt at around the 2:21 mark. Film artefacts were as plentiful as expected, and I suspect that the darkness of most of the feature did well to hide many more. The more noticeable instances of film artefacts occurred at 4:23, 12:45, 92:00 - 92:12, and 100:00 - 100:10 (as the following day breaks and the light gets much stronger).
This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 86:04. Although it is placed mid-scene, it occurs at a static and silent point in the action, and the brief pause only caused a minor disruption to the flow of the action.
The dialogue was generally of fairly good quality, however the remix of the soundtrack left the music considerably brighter in tone than the dialogue, making the age of the dialogue track as opposed to the restored music a little too obvious (as is the case with most remixes). Only one bit of the dialogue was a little difficult to understand, at 31:50, and this was probably more a result of the acoustics of the filming location rather than a transfer issue. Audio sync was not a concern.
There is no score per se, however almost the entire movie features a wall-to-wall soundtrack of fifties classics, as played on the pirate radio station which is ever-present in the background (and sometimes the foreground) of the action. Featured artists include Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Big Bopper, The Beach Boys, and Bill Haley.
I was reasonably impressed with the aggressive use of the surrounds, bearing in mind that the track is only surround-encoded rather than 5.1, for atmospheric effects such as the traffic on the streets and the nightlife generally. At times, there was a little too much reverb applied, and this led the surround effects to sound a little thin and unnatural. With the surround-encoded track, there wasn't much in the way of directional effects from the surrounds.
Without a specific .1 channel to really put the subwoofer through its paces, bass tones were fairly regular from some of the in-movie music, as well as the rumbling of the cars during the many hotrod and traffic scenes. Not exactly demo stuff, but the subwoofer supported the soundtrack reasonably well given the mono nature of the original source soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Toshiba 2109, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.|
|Speakers||Front: Yamaha NS10M, Rear: Wharfedale Diamond 7.1, Center: Wharfedale Sapphire, Sub: Aaron 120W|