directed by Bill Forsyth
UK 1981

 

This enchanting comedy, made in Scotland and only the second feature to be written and directed by Mr. Forsyth, who is 33 years old, is one of the cheeriest unsentimental reports on the human condition since Francois Truffaut's ''Small Change,'' which it recalls because it, too, is almost entirely concerned with teen-agers and their juniors.

Further, like Mr. Truffaut, Mr. Forsyth accepts nothing at face value. No character, emotion, gesture or response is too commonplace not to be re-examined and, in the process, miraculously seen anew. In this fashion, what might have been an ordinary comedy about the perils and pressures of growing up is transformed into something as exotic as a visit to another planet, a place that looks and sounds familiar but whose gravitational pull is about one-tenth of Earth's.

Excerpt from the New York Times review located here

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 23rd 1981

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

(Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Distribution

Cinema Club

Region 2 - PAL

MGM
Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:27:15 (4% PAL speedup) 1:31:10
Video

4:3 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1.85:1 Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Audio English (Mono)

English (Mono), Scottish (Mono)

Subtitles None English, French, Spanish, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Cinema Club

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 4:3

Edition Details:
• Single layer

DVD Release Date: June 7th 2004
Keep Case

Chapters 18
 

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Trailer (2:29)
• Choice of soundtrack
• Single layer
• Region coding enhancement (RCE)

 

DVD Release Date: November 6th 2001
Keep Case

Chapters 16

 

Comments:

ED. NOTE: It is my suspicion that the Cinema Club is the Open Matte version of the film - there appears to be a lot of wasted space at the top of the frame. The Cinema Club also looks to have had the colors manipulated in my opinion. Being single-layered it definitely shows more artifacts. I'd prefer the MGM I think.

Gary Tooze

Michael Brooke says (in email): 'Firstly, regardless of what his memory tells him, the film categorically would not have been shown in 4:3 in British cinemas, as most were simply incapable of screening the format by 1981 (in this, there's no essential difference between British and American cinemas). So while it was undoubtedly shot open-matte, the correct aspect ratio would be 1.66:1 as a minimum. Secondly, while it's a good idea to distinguish between the MGM's 'English' and 'Scottish' tracks, I think the terminology is actively misleading. First of all, the sole soundtrack on the Cinema Club disc is equivalent to the 'Scottish' track (as it's the original), whereas the overview implies that it's the 'English' one (i.e. the replacement). Secondly, neither of the tracks are in Gaelic, which is a different language altogether - it's just a very strong regional accent. Thirdly, BOTH soundtracks are in Scottish accents - it's just that the dubbed version is in milder accents than the original, to make it easier on non-Scottish ears. (I'm also not at all sure that the dubbing was done by the original actors, as claimed - it certainly didn't sound that way to my ears, which is one of the reasons I found this version so tooth-grinding to listen to when I caught it on US TV a few years ago).' and

'(Incidentally, I'm with you on the subject of the picture - the MGM looks better composed. That said, I think it would probably have been shown in 1.66:1 originally, opening up the frame a bit more.)'

Michael St Aubyn responds: 'I suspect that both tracks were post-synced, the "strong Scottish" track at least partially (the UK disc, without the "weak Scottish" track, mentions that the "sound was re-recorded at Cine-Lingual
Studios, London"). As to whether the same actors were used for the two tracks, that was the impression I got but I may be wrong. Incidentally, both discs are single layer. I think the Cinema Club compression artifacting that Gary comments upon is grain on the print itself. The MGM appears to have been smoothed and colour-adjusted to make it look more cinematic and to perk up those pallid Scottish complexions.
'

***

The big difference between these two editions is the aspect ratio. I am sure that when I first saw this film in the UK it was in 4:3, which is how it is presented on the Cinema Club disc. The film was presumably cropped to widescreen for international distribution, and it is this version (1.85:1, letterboxed to anamorphic 16:9) which appears on the MGM. Clearly a lot (more than a quarter) of the image has been sacrificed on the way, resulting in some tight framing. The MGM does, however, have a little more information along the right edge, where the Cinema Club has also been slightly cropped.

Both editions appear to have come from old prints with a fair smattering of dirt speckles. The level of detail is about the same, though the MGM image looks sleeker with less grain and a better colour balance in most shots. One other difference is that faces look slightly narrower in the Cinema Club edition. The images of the clock face in the final captures below suggest that it may be the MGM that is correct.

The Cinema Club has no extras or subtitles. The MGM has a trailer, English, French and Spanish subtitles, and an extra soundtrack, spoken by the original actors, but with the broad Scottish accents turned down a notch. It is this track which is selected by default, so you need to change the settings in order to listen to the original "Scots Gaelic" soundtrack (which I would recommend).

Neither disc is ideal. I prefer the overall look of the MGM, and the bonus audio track or subtitles may be essential if you are unused to the Scottish dialect. However, the cropping is a significant drawback, and tips the balance for me in favour of the Cinema Club.

 - Michael St Aubyn

 



DVD Menus
(Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)
Subtitle sample (none available on Cinema Club)

 

 


(Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Cinema Club - Region 2 - PAL - TOP vs. MGM - Region 1 - NTSC - BOTTOM)

 

 


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Image:

Cinema Club

Sound:

MGM

Extras: MGM
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Distribution

Cinema Club

Region 2 - PAL

MGM
Region 1 - NTSC

 





 

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