Scent Of A Woman

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.33:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1992 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 149:49 minutes Other Extras Biographies - Cast & Crew
Production Notes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (70:39)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Martin Brest

Columbia TriStar
Starring Al Pacino
Chris O'Donnell
RRP $34.95 Music Thomas Newman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Czech (Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, 192 Kb/s)
Polish (Dolby Digital 1.0 mono, 96 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

   "Hoo-haa!", the catch-cry of Al Pacino is here for your enjoyment, and he must say it about 20 times during this excellent movie. I hadn't seen this film in quite a while. I remembered it being quite good, but forgot just how good it really was. This is definitely not a typical role for Al, but it suits him down to the bone. He plays a jaded, miserable man who has lost his sight, and his will for life; yet, he has a deep understanding of all the little gifts which make life so rich and relishes them. He is a character of strong conviction, and equally strong contradiction. His performance, for which he did considerable research, afforded him his first Oscar for "Best Actor", and the reasons are plain to see (no pun intended).

    Chris O'Donnell is very good as the naive and honest young lad who guides Al during his seemingly last few days, effectively being his seeing-eye companion around New York while Al Pacino indulges in what he plans to be his last pleasures of life before he ends it all. Things, of course, do not turn out the way he thought, and the two-and-a-half hours which this movie occupies just flies along whilst we both pity and loathe this old retired Lieutenant Colonel.

    One point I must make is that Al Pacino never looks into anyone's eyes; by that I mean he never makes eye contact. Whilst this may be of little significance for him, it does make his portrayal of a blind man sometimes a little too obvious. Whilst I cannot say for sure, I would imagine that a blind person would naturally point their face at the person they were speaking to, especially when that person has had sight for most of their life.

Transfer Quality


    ... or "why non-anamorphic transfers shouldn't wear plaid". In contradiction to the packaging, this transfer is NOT 16x9 enhanced and suffers for it. It is presented in a letterbox aspect ratio of precisely 1.85:1, which is quite rare. It results in small black bars above and below the image on my 16x9 screen, and is not distracting in the slightest; on the contrary, the correct aspect ratio is something which should be high on any morally-correct thinking person's wish list.

    I will say that this movie is very sharp and detailed, at least as much as a non-16x9 transfer can be. There is plenty of clarity to the image, and no low-level noise. Shadow detail is less than expected for a recent movie, and is quite poor at times.

    One area where this transfer shines is the colours. The overall feel is very warm, with strong colours when called upon. There is absolutely no chroma noise, and no oversaturation. The image has a nice depth to it given the high contrast and strong colour palette, and I can't help but pine for a proper anamorphic transfer....

    There were no MPEG artefacts of any kind during the movie. The transfer was ravaged by aliasing, and it was present a good deal of the time. Every possible scene where aliasing might be a problem was a problem, and even Al Pacino's suits shimmered away, testament to the high level of detail. This was distracting for me given that I am acutely aware of it, however it was not as distracting as the aliasing in, say, The Mummy, because the transfer is simply not in that league. Film artefacts were trivial.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change taking place at 70:39. This is perhaps the least observable layer change that I have seen - it lasts a split-second and does not even stop the flow of a particularly sombre conversation between Al and Chris.


    There is a mixed bag of audio options present here, being English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, German Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, French Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, Czech Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and Polish Dolby Digital 1.0 mono, all as per the packaging (wow!). I listened to the default English Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, and was not disappointed.

    Dialogue was always clear, with no distortion or lip-sync problems.

    The musical score by Thomas Newman is mellow, sullen and very, very effective on a subliminal level. It has the effect of reinforcing the often strong emotions conveyed from the equally strong acting, and is excellent at this job.

    Surround presence was typical of a good matrix mix, being subtly enveloping and adding to the atmosphere. The score also made good use of the surround channel. This movie would not have benefited greatly from a dynamic, aggressive 5.1 mix anyway given that it is a dialogue-driven movie and fairly slow paced.

    The mix was well rounded, with enough bass when it needed it. Not floor thumping, just a pleasant bottom end to add some weight.



    Whilst the menu is certainly colourful, there is no enhancement of any kind. I really think that a good menu puts you in the right mood for a good movie; presentation is very important. It is for this reason that I am a little tired of the usual Universal menu system. Please Universal, forget the silly symbols you insist on using - you have the text next to them anyway, so why clutter it all up with meaningless and eminently forgettable icons - they just make the menu look plain ugly.

Theatrical Trailer (2:27)

    Presented in 1.33:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, the quality might be poor but the content is great! A very effective trailer which touches on the right aspects of the movie. As always, a welcome inclusion, irrespective of quality.

Biographies - Cast & Crew

Production Notes

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;     Ouch. This really stings, and makes the lack of enhancement for the R4 version a really bitter pill to swallow. This is the first time I would ever recommend the R1 version in favour of an R4 version, but I have to with this one.


    An engrossing movie with substance - the two and a half hours go by very quickly. Al Pacino can do no wrong in my book.

    The video is okay, though the lack of 16x9 enhancement is an absolute crime. It must be noted that the packaging claims the transfer is 16x9, which only adds insult to injury.

    The audio is good.

    Limited extras beyond the trailer; to me this is a bare bones disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Paul Cordingley
1st February, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive