Sleepless In Seattle

Collector's Edition

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Romantic Comedy Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0)
Behind The Scenes Featurette (6:20, 1.33:1, Dolby Digital 2.0)
Audio Commentary (Nora Ephron-Director/Co-Writer & Delia Ephron-Assistant Producer/Screenwriter)
Cast & Crew Biographies
Year Released 1993
Running Time 100:51 minutes
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (54:33)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Nora Ephron

Columbia Tristar
Starring Tom Hanks
Meg Ryan
Case Brackley
RPI $39.95 Music Marc Shaiman

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192Kb/s)
Isolated Music Score (Dolby Digital 3.0 L-C-R, 448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles English
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

A Brief Note Before We Begin

    Sleepless In Seattle: Collector's Edition is a replacement for the previously-issued movie-only Sleepless In Seattle. Columbia Tristar have taken the opportunity to correct what in hindsight was a bad mastering decision, which was to include only an MPEG audio track on the initial release. They have also taken the opportunity to add a decent selection of extras while they were at it. The video transfer appears identical to the previously-issued DVD. Only the audio tracks and the extras are new.

Plot Synopsis

    Sleepless In Seattle is probably the best writing to ever come from the romantic comedy pens of Nora and Delia Ephron. So good, in fact, that they tried to replicate the formula some 5 years later with the far less convincing You've Got Mail. Much has been made of the "chemistry" between Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks in this movie, which is fascinating when you consider that during the 100 or so minute running time of this movie, they only ever share on-screen time for at most 5 minutes. Like all good romantic comedies, the pleasure is in watching the trials and tribulations that our two stars must go through in order to realize what the audience knows from the beginning - they are MFEO (Made For Each Other).

    I have now seen this movie a number of times, as it remains one of my wife's favourites, but what struck me this time around was just how convincing Tom Hanks is in his role as the grieving husband coming to terms with the death of his wife. You truly believe in his pain and misery.

    Tom Hanks plays Sam Baldwin, a loving husband to Maggie and father to Jonah (Ross Malinger). The movie opens at Maggie's funeral, and we quickly realize that Sam needs to move away from Chicago, the town in which his wife died, which he does. He moves to Seattle.

    Meg Ryan plays Annie Reed, a reporter working in Baltimore. She is engaged to the predictable and allergy-ridden Walter, played to perfection by Bill Pullman.

    Time passes, and it is Christmas. Jonah rings a national talk show host because he is worried about his father's melancholy demeanour. Sam is cajoled onto the air, where he gives a heartfelt statement about the reasons why he loved his wife so much. American women across the country, including Annie, hear his pain and respond with a flood of letters to Sam, but Jonah picks Annie as the woman for his father. Now all Jonah has to do is to get the two of them together...

    Personally, my favourite scene in this movie, and one which I learned something new about from the audio commentary on this disc, is the hilarious scene immediately following Rita Wilson's teary description of the end of An Affair To Remember when Tom Hanks and Victor Garber describe The Dirty Dozen. This has me rolling around on the floor in laughter every time I see it. Another favourite scene of mine is when Tom Hanks decides to get back into the dating scene. The Gene Autrey song chosen to underscore this scene is hysterical.

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is reasonably sharp and reasonably clear without being outstanding in any of these respects. Brightly lit scenes in particular are filled with detail, whereas lower lit scenes lack detail. The area where this transfer falls down, most likely due to the way the original film was shot, is in shadow detail. The great majority of the first half of this film is quite low-lit, and shadow detail is markedly lacking, without the fine gradations of detail and blackness that contemporary transfers often show. Instead, all we get is indistinct blackness. A good example of this lack of detail can be seen at approximately 7 minutes into the movie, where Meg Ryan's red velvet dress is more-or-less completely lacking in fine detail rather than being finely rendered. Thankfully, no low level noise marred the blackness.

    The colours were generally muted, in keeping with the overall theme of the movie. Having said that, darker scenes tended towards oversaturation, particularly early on in the movie. Occasional splashes of vibrant colour, such as the bright yellow of New York taxicabs, never exhibited any suggestion of colour bleeding. A small amount of chroma noise affected the blue of the opening titles map.

    There were no MPEG artefacts nor aliasing seen, and film artefacts were all but absent.

    The disc is dual layered, with the layer change coming at 54:33, during Chapter 17. It is minimally disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Grain/MPEG Artefacts
Film-to-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are five soundtracks on this DVD, a commentary track and an isolated musical score track. All five soundtracks (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish) and the English commentary track are presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded tracks. The Isolated Musical Score is unusually presented as a Dolby Digital 3.0 track, utilizing the Left, Center and Right channels. I listened to the English soundtrack, the Audio Commentary track and sampled the Isolated Musical Score.

    The dialogue was generally easy to make out, albeit somewhat compressed and boxy-sounding at times. Some dialogue peaks distorted, and occasional hiss intruded into the dialogue mix. There were no audio sync problems.

    The score by Marc Shaiman in conjunction with the now-traditional standards that Nora Ephron is well-known for including in her movies beautifully set the mood for this movie, and are a shining example of how to do this sort of thing right. Having said that, the rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow at 20:50 onwards had a heavily-processed metallic edge about it which was quite unpleasant to listen to.

    The surround channel had very limited use. The only specific surround activity that I noticed was some rear ambience during a rainstorm midway through the movie. Otherwise, it remained essentially silent. The music was generally presented mixed across the front soundstage, with a tiny amount of reverberation in the rear channels, but at its heart, this was little beyond a stereo music mix with mono dialogue.

    The .1 channel was not specifically encoded, and my subwoofer had little to do during this movie except to subtly support the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



Theatrical Trailer

Featurette-Behind The Scenes (6:20)

    Marginally more interesting than the typical promotional featurettes of this type, it nonetheless is only worth watching once.

Audio Commentary (Nora Ephron-Director/Co-Writer & Delia Ephron-Associate Producer/Screenwriter)

    Nora Ephron dominates this audio commentary with a wealth of insights into the movie and scene-specific details which add enormously to the enjoyment of the movie. There are, however, lengthy gaps in her commentary, which are partially filled with what appear to be edited interview snippets from Delia Ephron. The two of them clearly did not record their comments together, as there is no interaction between them. Delia's comments are often only vaguely related to what is happening on-screen and the audio quality of her contribution is quite poor. Her voice sounds quite tinny at times and ambient noise frequently intrudes.

Cast & Crew Biographies

R4 vs R1

    The R4 version of this DVD misses out on;     The R1 version of this DVD misses out on;     There are pros and cons for both versions here, although I cannot understand why we didn't get at least some of the missing extras from the R1 Special Edition. Still, the key extra, the audio commentary, is present and accounted for, and we have scored an Isolated Musical Score, a very welcome additional extra with a movie such as this one. I'll call it even.


    Sleepless In Seattle is the archetypal "chick's movie" (and admits to as much during the movie!). Minor image and audio flaws will not detract from the weepy experience.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
6th October 2000

Review Equipment
DVD Loewe Xemix 5006DD/SAST AEP-803, using RGB/S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the RGB/S-Video inputs. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO subwoofer