S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r
The War Room [Blu-ray]
(Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker, 1993)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Pennebaker Associates
Video: Criterion Collection # 602
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 45,870,305,157 bytes
Feature Size: 19,876,233,216 bytes
Video Bitrate: 23.99 Mbps
Case: Transparent Blu-ray case
Release date: March 12th, 2012
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2065 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2065 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
English (SDH), none
• Return of the War Room, a 2008 documentary by Hegedus and
Pennebaker in which advisers James Carville, George
Stephanopoulos, Paul Begala, and others reflect on the
effect that the Clinton war room had on the way campaigns
are run (1:21:40)
• Trailer (2:02)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by writer Louis Menand
Description: The 1992 presidential election was a triumph not only for Bill Clinton but also for the new breed of strategists who guided him to the White House and changed the face of politics in the process. For this thrilling, behind-closed-doors account of that campaign, renowned cinema verité filmmakers D. A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop) and Chris Hegedus (Startup.com) closely followed the brainstorming and bull sessions of Clinton’s crack team of consultants—especially the folksy James Carville and the preppy George Stephanopoulos, who became media stars in their own right as they injected a youthful spirit and spontaneity into the process of campaigning. Fleet-footed and entertaining, The War Room is a vivid document of a political moment whose truths (“It’s the economy, stupid!”) still ring in our ears.
A look inside the 1992 presidential race, D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hedgus' documentary The War Room explores the backstage... side of national politics by examining the day-to-day operations of Bill Clinton's campaign staff. The behind-the-scenes leader of the group is James Carville, the demonstrative, charismatic campaign manager who relies on a plain-speaking manner and emotional appeals to motivate his subordinates. He is complemented by the quieter, smoother personality and photogenic looks of young press spokesman George Stephanopoulous. The filmmakers follow these two contrasting personalities from the January New Hampshire primary to Clinton's eventual victory, as they attempt to cling to an overall strategic plan while dealing with unforeseen problems and negative press, as their candidate is saddled with accusations of adultery and draft-dodging. Subplots include the rivalries between Democratic campaign staffs -- which can become amusingly petty, as when they accuse each other of tearing down campaign posters -- and the romantic relationship between Carville and Mary Matalin, chief strategist for George Bush's campaign. Co-director D.A. Pennebaker (Monterey Pop, Don't Look Back, Primary) is renowned as an innovator in the use of cinema-verite, used here to show both the mundane complications and the emotional highlights of the modern political process.
Exotic location notwithstanding, Rachel Boynton's riveting political documentary Our Brand Is Crisis is a sequel to the Clinton-era campaign vérité, The War Room. Call it spin-meisters abroad: Boynton chronicles the further adventures of ace political strategist James Carville and his associates at GCS as guns for hire in the 2002 Bolivian election. Our Brand Is Crisis, which had its local premiere at the last edition of New Directors/New Films, opens with the October 2003 riots that brought down the government of President Gonzalo "Goni" Sánchez de Lozada, then flashes back one year earlier to Goni on the hustings: Addressing a resplendently color- coordinated (and inexplicably pink) rally, the candidate—a wealthy, American- educated businessman and former president—announces his plan to resolve Bolivia's current economic crisis. Backstage, he's calling his inside-the-beltway advisers for new talking points.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Criterion Blu-ray of The War Room is advertised as 'New, restored high-definition digital transfer, approved by directors Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker'. The fact that the film was originally shot with a 16 mm camera accounts for much of the softness and the grainy appearance of the film. A lot of this is sourced from television shot footage and hence also looks pretty weak with bleeding colors and frail visual characteristics. This is to be expected and still look consistent in the Blu-ray format. Anyone seeking pristine quality wouldn't be getting an accurate representation of the original film. This is how it looks and it is watchable being faithful to the original source.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Predictably plenty of dialogue is scattered in the vérité/documentary and Criterion have used a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 2065 kbps. We can only presume that this exports the film's audio as well as can be technically expected. It is clean and, basically, audible. There are optional subtitles and myMomitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Return of the War Room is an 1-hour 20-minute 2008 documentary by Hegedus and Pennebaker in which advisers James Carville, George Stephanopoulos, Paul Begala, Mary Matalin and others reflect on the effect that the Clinton war room had on the way campaigns are run and the lasting effects it had on the country and their lives. In addition Mark McKinno and Frank Luntz, members of the new generation of campaign operatives, discuss the innovations of the war concept room. There is a 41-minute 'Making of...' where the filmmakers discuss the difficulties of shooting in the campaign’s fast-paced environment. Also included is a 25-minute 'Panel Discussion' hosted by the William J. Clinton Foundation, featuring Carville, Clinton adviser Vernon Jordan, journalist Ron Brownstein, and surprise guest Bill Clinton discuss the trials of New Hampshire and other memories of the revolutionary campaign. There is a 10-minute new interview with strategist Stanley Greenberg on the evolution of polling - its nuances and how it is a misunderstood dark art at the center of modern political campaigns. There is a 2-minute trailer and a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by writer Louis Menand.
March 14th, 2012