|Category||Historical Drama||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 2.35:1, non-16x9 enhanced, Dolby Digital 2.0|
|Year Released||1995||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||133:06||Other Extras||None|
|Start Up||Language Selection then Menu|
|Region||2, 4||Director||Michael Caton-Jones|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Dolby Digital||5.1|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Anyway, for those who want the plot, here goes. The film begins with the aforementioned description of the state of affairs in Scotland at the turn of the Eighteenth Century, and then with a beautiful, wide-angle shot of the Scottish highlands. For roughly eleven minutes, we get a brief glimpse of life among the clans in a bygone era, and we see the first glimpse of the capitalist, commercial society that was destined to replace it. There are the British nobles, whose coffers are so full that they can afford to argue about how much money they will take from each other for what. Leading this unsavoury bunch is James Graham, the Marquis of Montrose (John Hurt). Then there's his rather unscrupulous lieutenant Cunningham (Tim Roth), who just happens to be quite a fine swordsman. On the other side, we have McGregor himself, and his clan which includes such people as his friend McDonald (Eric Stoltz) and his wife Mary (Jessica Lange). McGregor, faced with the increasing poverty of his clan, decides to borrow a thousand pounds to buy cattle in the hopes of selling it later for a profit. Of course, Cunnigham has other ideas, and he soon murders McDonald, sending the body to the bottom of the sea. When Graham comes asking what happened to his money, that's where the real fun begins...
As stories about the tragic history of the clans go, Rob Roy is an interesting piece of work. It presents quite a likeable protagonist in the shape of Robert Roy McGregor, especially as portrayed by Liam Neeson. Even Eric Stoltz is better than his usual self in this film, and I was almost sad to see him go so early on in the proceeedings. Tim Roth gives an excellent performance as the vile antagonist Cunningham, and does well with what little space to breathe he has. However, this is certainly Neeson's show, through and through.
Thankfully, the sharpness of this film is more than reasonable. Even in scenes where most of the sets were obscured by fog, it was fairly easy to make out exactly who was doing what. The shadow detail is also quite reasonable, with nighttime scenes quite clear and easy to make out. From this, I can conclude that the original film stock was kept in very good condition. Even the low-level noise is thankfully absent to a degree that defies the lack of enhancement. Colour was what you'd expect from a film shot on location in the wilderness of Scotland. It's just such a major pity that the shots were not 16x9 enhanced because they could have been that little bit better. MPEG artefacts are surprisingly rare, although I am not quite sure whether the loss of background detail in some scenes is a bona fide artefact or just the director's intention. For the time being, however, I will defer to the book of good filmmaking which states thusly: when making a film with such natural beauty in the background as the Highlands or the Fjords, the background must be at least half as clear as the actual subjects of the shot. Film artefacts and film-to-video artefacts were almost non-existent, except for the usual loss of definition in the credits.
This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change between Chapters 16 and 17, at 72:07. The layer change is well-placed, given the alternatives. Overall, this is one of the better layer changes I have seen with recent discs, although it is still quite noticeable.
The dialogue was very clear and easy to follow at all points. Words were occasionally muttered here and there that fell below the level of easy listening, but these could be ignored because the story made just as much sense without them. Sure, it is somewhat annoying when you have to go back a few seconds to make out what is being said, but be comforted by the fact that when this does occur, most of the dialogue is mere window-dressing. The balance with creating the voices of the characters was tipped more in favour of ease of listening than authenticity, and if you want to understand the difference, compare the dialogue in this film to that of Trainspotting. In any case, audio sync was not a problem with this disc, at least not enough to warrant any close inspections.
Carter Burwell's score music added a lot to this film, especially in the authenticity department. There appears to have been a lot of work and research done into this score, although many of the pieces of music are simply taken from stock sources and thus have questionable relevance to the onscreen action. A custom made score, as was done for Braveheart, would have suited the film a little better. However, the music suits the overall feel of the film quite well in spite of its lack of specificity to any character or event.
The surround channels got a reasonable amount of use to support the special effects and music. Overall, sound was evenly distributed through the speakers, although background sounds such as the crashing of waves and the rustling of grass tended to get lost in the mix. The subwoofer was mainly used to support the music and gunshot sounds, although its use was generally quite evenly distributed through the film.
The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
The video quality is pretty damned impressive, given the lack of 16x9 enhancement.
The audio quality is wonderful, and a shining example of how sound should be put together for film.
The extras... well, I wouldn't care them non-existent, but I wouldn't call them particularly helpful either. An audio commentary by Liam Neeson and Michael Caton-Jones, or at least some kind of featurette on who Robert Roy McGregor was, would have been much appreciated.
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF, 16:9 mode/4:3 mode|
|Audio Decoder||Built In|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|