White Fang

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Details At A Glance

Category Adventure Theatrical Trailer(s) No
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1991 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 104:20 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper No
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Randal Kleiser

Warner Home Video
Starring Klaus Maria Brandauer
Ethan Hawke
RRP $34.95 Music Basil Poledouris

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Dolby Digital 2.0 
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 ??
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles Dutch
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

   I did not know what to expect with this movie. I am always wary of Di$ney movies due to their bent towards the younger audience - though at times that is a good thing (The Black Hole comes to mind as being particularly childish, yet very appealing to me!). So, with a touch of cynicism, I began the film. It didn't take too long for me to let go and just enjoy what is in fact a fine movie, and one which is both entertaining and troubling, heartbreaking and warming. If that sounds a bit too gut-wrenching for you, then stay away, but for the rest of us, I would recommend you give this at least a rent.

    A very youthful looking Ethan Hawke (a fine actor, and amongst my favourite) plays Jack, whose parents have passed away. He has basically nothing to lose by trying to find gold which his father believed lay in the wilds of Alaska sometime late in the century before last (though I am only guessing). He is helped by two men he befriends, and during the course of his journey he meets a wolf-dog whom the Indians have named "White Fang". Jack and his friends use him for labour because they make very effective working dogs. I am not going to detail every plot twist, but suffice it to say a bond is formed between Jack and White Fang which ensures that the movie has just enough tension generated throughout for the ending to be a real tear-jerker if you are that way inclined (my wife nearly drowned). I would suggest that there are times during this movie, such as the arranged dog-fighting scenes which many might find a bit heavy going. I also have renewed respect for bears after seeing an absolutely enormous one nearly kill Jack, and so the PG rating is well deserved.

Transfer Quality


    This is a most pleasing transfer in most respects. It is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, and although I cannot confirm the theatrical release ratio, the framing would suggest that this is pretty close. The transfer is 16x9 enhanced.

    Image sharpness is somewhat variable, and on the whole the image tends towards being a little soft. At times, however, the clarity and detail amazed me. Close up shots of various wolves and dogs revealed an enormous amount of information, with every hair being perfectly defined. Much of the film has a documentary feel to it, as if you were watching wolves on the Discovery channel, and it gave me pause for thought, because documentaries would benefit enormously from this kind of resolution and clarity. I had to lock my pooch in the other room because he got carried away when there were dogs on the screen, though he is not as discerning as me! Shadow detail was reasonably good, and sometimes very good, and there was no low level noise at all. However, most of the movie is shot outdoors in the snow, and there is definitely no lighting problem there! There is no visible edge-enhancement, making for a very film-like image. Luminance saturation was perfect, even in very testing conditions, with no oversaturation.

    Colours were extraordinarily well rendered. First off, most of the movie is filmed outdoors, in the snow, and as strange as this might sound, the snow is white. Perfectly white. If you have ever taken pictures of the snow, you will appreciate this immediately. With that taken care of, all the other colours fall nicely into place. Some shots were breathtaking to behold with the rich green of trees, the clear blue of the sky and the white snow, and the cinematography by Tony Pierce-Roberts is not wasted on this transfer.

    The one real let down for this transfer is the MPEG compression. The quality (and length) of this transfer really begs for this disc to be RSDL formatted, because space is just a tad tight on one layer for 105 minutes, regardless of what the "spec" says. For the most part, the transfer is solid enough, but macro-blocking is evident in far backgrounds - mountains for instance, and is even more prominent in panning shots. There are also times when certain parts of the image would freeze momentarily, and be updated more slowly than foreground information. Now, many of you may not be bothered by or even notice this, but my eye is naturally drawn to artefacts of this kind, and they are off-putting for me. I therefore have to mark down the otherwise excellent transfer because of this, which is unfortunate.


    There are three soundtracks on this disc, none of which are selectable on the fly. Boo. They are English, French and Italian, all in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround.

    Dialogue was always clear and easy to follow, with no lip-sync problems.

    There was nothing remarkable about the soundtrack, and in fact it sounds more clichéd than anything else, and is perfectly typical of what you might expect in a Disney production, being neither here nor there. Sometimes, it was not even particularly suited to the on-screen action, but on the whole it did its job satisfactorily. In it's favour, the front soundstage was very wide and detailed which was pleasing, though the sound did have a slightly thin character, which might be due to the compression.

    This is a very frontal mix, with very little surround activity at all. In fact, it is one of the lightest surround mixes I have heard in a while.

    Surprisingly, there is quite a lot of low frequency sound in the mix, and the sub was quite happy to join in with the other front three speakers. The score was also aided by the subwoofer at times, and was used as a "let's create some tension" device for the more PG oriented times in the film.



    Plain as the snow is white, the menu offers simply scene selections, set up and play.

R4 vs R1

    White Fang does not appear to be available in R4 at this time.


    A surprisingly good film, with enough to keep both young and old entertained, though I suspect it is a bit too heavy for the little ones at times.

    The video is superb at times, but let down by too much MPEG artefacting for my liking.

    The audio is plain and functional, with nothing remarkable to comment on.

    No extras at all.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley
8th March, 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