PictureConsidering the film's age it's a reasonable looking picture and well transferred. There is little dirt or scratches evident, nor is there an abundance of compression artefacts. But the picture is rather soft with bland contrast having greyish blacks and little shadow detail. There is also speckling and grain which obviously look worse on a larger sized screen. All the colours are rather muted with flesh tones being overtly pale, but this strangely works in the favour of this particular film, after all it's a period piece set in chilly Russia at the turn of the century. The flaws aren't distracting and this picture is still eminently watchable.
SoundThe mono sound is poor, it has to be said. The whole soundtrack is undynamic and flat and there is a constant low end hiss with clicks and pops appearing here and there throughout, as if you are hearing the film moving in a projector. I read that some restoration had been done to the sound so I dread to think what it was originally like. At least here the dialogue is reasonably clear, and never drowned out as there is little incidental music or ambient effects to compete.
ExtrasThe extras aren't too bad for a marginal film of this age. A modern interview with a lead actor looking back on an old film is always a good idea, and this interview with Alan Bates is enjoyable. A melodramatic set of AFT trailers is fun to watch and there's several pages of text from various sources that give you a good insight into the play, and the motivations and aspirations of the filmmakers.
VerdictA lot of people will find this film too slow moving but for lovers of the stage this DVD is a must. Seeing this classic play with all these veteran actors thesping alongside dear old Larry will bring a tear to many a luvvie's eye.
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