The Smiths

The Complete Picture

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Details At A Glance

Category Music Video Theatrical Trailer(s) None
Rating g.gif (1187 bytes) Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1992 Commentary Tracks None
Running Time 47:03 Minutes
(Not 50 Minutes as per packaging)
Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No/No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,3,4,5,6 Director Derek Jarman
Paula Grief
Richard Levine
Tim Broad
Warner Reprise Video
Warner Vision
Starring The Smiths
Case Super Jewel
RPI $39.95 Music The Smiths

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None Dolby Digital None
16x9 Enhancement No Soundtrack Languages English (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.37:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking No
Subtitles None Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    If nothing else, The Smiths: The Complete Picture provides proof that English pop bands were at least interesting once upon a time, although they definitely seem to have devolved quite dramatically in the years since this compilation of The Smiths' music videos was originally put together. Twelve music videos that were broadcast on Britain's equivalents of MTV at some stage or another are presented on this DVD:     The only track on this DVD that really stirred my curiosity was How Soon Is Now?, a modernized version of which can be found in the contemporary music of the movie The Craft. It is sad to think that this song has been sullied by its inclusion in such a pathetic film, as it really isn't a bad little number. Anyway, the total running time of the last track is somewhere in the neighbourhood of fourteen minutes, meaning that the eleven songs on this disc run for just over half an hour. Even if this were a disc with twelve complete songs at an average running time of four minutes, forty dollars for just over forty-seven minutes of music is too much. Fans of The Smiths can feel free to indulge in this somewhat short compilation, but others are advised to look for something more substantial.

Transfer Quality


    While this video transfer is not particularly bad, it is not particularly good, either.

    The transfer is presented Full Frame and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    It would not surprise me to learn that the video portion of this transfer is taken from various archival analogue tapes, as the sharpness of this transfer is distinctly average most of the time. Chapter 1, This Charming Man, is very hazy indeed, with the vocalist often being barely distinguishable from the background due to the presence of what appears to be lens flares from the sun. In Chapter 1, it looked as if the brightness level of the transfer had been set too high for the most part, as white clothing became indistinguishable from the white background. Shadow detail is very ordinary, but infrequently noticeable since most of the footage was shot under controlled lighting conditions. The most puzzling thing is the absence of low-level noise, given the lack of resolution in what is otherwise a very average-looking video presentation.

    The colour saturation was highly variable from song to song, with all sorts of artistic effects complicating the issue further.  On average, however, the colour saturation was reasonable without being remarkable.

    MPEG artefacts were not seen at any point in the transfer. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some very mild aliasing in musical instruments and other such objects with steel and fine lines in them, but this was hardly noticeable for the most part. Film artefacts consisted of some minor black and white marks on the picture, but these were barely noticeable in combination with the artistic style used in many of the videos.

    This is a minor quibble, but there are no subtitles at all to be found on this disc, not even English lyrics. While the vocals are very easy to understand, this would have been a nice touch.


    Thankfully, the audio transfer is much better than the video transfer. After the Linear PCM mix on the K.D. Lang DVD that I reviewed recently, I was almost dreading listening to this DVD, mainly because the source material is supposedly a little older. Thankfully, this audio transfer is a reminder of why the concept of music videos on VHS died the day the DVD Video format was realized.

    There is only one soundtrack on this DVD: the original English version of the music in Linear PCM 2.0 Stereo, with no alternate DTS or Dolby Digital soundtracks on offer.

    The vocals and instruments in all of the songs were as clear and distinct as the original  recordings allowed, which is certainly nothing to complain about. The vocals were somewhat nasal and thickly-accented in their delivery, but it was quite easy to make out exactly what the vocalist was saying. Similarly, the guitars, bass, and drums on How Soon Is Now?, my reference track because of my vague familiarity with the musical contents, were perfectly mixed together. Audio sync did not appear to be a problem except for the usual problems associated with music videos being mimed.

    The music by The Smiths can be classed as being English middle-of-the-road pop, albeit delivered in a perfectly competent and listenable manner. Most of the music failed to strike a chord with me, with songs like Girlfriend In A Coma making me wonder if the theme of the song was supposed to make me feel some kind of sympathy for the vocalist. It didn't really work, which is hardly surprising considering that most of my record collection consists of music that, when you respond "that's horrible" to the idea of having a girlfriend in a coma, comes back with "I haven't even told you the horrible part yet".

    Being that this is a straight stereo mix, there was no action to speak of from the surround channels, although I did engage the Pro-Logic mode during my second listen to How Soon Is Now? for some fun. The subwoofer was frequently utilized to support the bass and drums, but was not specifically called upon to do so by the programme contents.



    The menu is basically nothing more than a chapter selection system, and is difficult to read. It is not 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

    Having searched high and low for indications to the contrary, it seems that the only difference between the two versions of this disc is the use of PAL formatting on our version.


    After viewing this DVD, I have little intention of viewing The Smiths again. Your opinion may be different, but the short length of this DVD would lead me to suggest that you wait for a better presentation. Apart from this one factor, the DVD is very good.

    The video quality is very ordinary, although it is reasonable to assume that no better source material exists.

    The audio quality is very good, with excellent clarity.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
July 28, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Panasonic TC-29R20 (68 cm), 4:3 mode, using composite input; Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835; Sony STR-DE535 with Pro-Logic enabled
Speakers Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer