The Outsiders Review
No jazz before the rumble; you know the rules ape-face
Francis Ford Coppola, he of Apocalypse Now fame, if you believe the story, made tonight’s feature because school children wrote to him asking him to do so, and just 4 years after Apocalypse nearly killed him. The story is based on the novel of the same name by S.E. Hinton, written when she was just 16 and published in 1967. The story of two rival gangs, embroiled in a war, with a connection between two youngsters on either side, has clear parallels with Shakespearean fiction. Where it differs is the establishment of the connections of the two ‘greasers’ forced to go on the run; both young, both from broken homes, and their coming to terms with the actions they take and the consequences thereof.
The film follows the book almost exactly beat for beat (at least The Complete Novel version does) managing to deliver its meaning, delve into the themes raised and expose the weaknesses and triumphs of the novel's structure, without the need to oversimplify or expand. Coppola skilfully uses his lens to grasp the story with relish.
Filled to the brim with (then) up and coming talent, most would go on to huge things, becoming the Hollywood ‘Brat Pack’, but here they are young, fresh faced and eager to show off. Awesome to see Tom Cruse with his big nose and buck teeth!
The piece never really falls into cliché, though it sometimes feels like it due to its common themes. It is very male dominated with plenty of emotions from the leads, in stark contrast to the hard men they are meant to be portraying, which gives the narrative some depth and gravitas. A snapshot of American life in a small town, out west, where the area of your birth can determine your upbringing, and few manage to escape their destiny.
The Outsiders Video
The Outsiders was shot on 35 mm film using Panavision Panaflex Gold. Studiocanal along with the Coppola estate sourced as much of the original negative as possible, rescanned and cleaned up, under the watchful eye of the director, to produce a new 4K DI from which it appears this UHD is sourced.
The disc presents a native 3840 x 2160p resolution image with widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio, uses 10-bit video depth, High Dynamic Range, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec for HRD10 and Dolby Vision.
We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Outsiders on a Panasonic TX-65HZ1000B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DP-UB450 Dolby Vision HDR10+ 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
This review is based on The Complete Novel edition.
What is immediately apparent is how rich and vibrant this image is, it has been lovingly restored and looks gorgeous.
Detail is amazing, close up skin texture, oiled hair, ripped and worn clothing, dusty church floors, wood grain, street signs, trees against the skyline, clouds, grimy fingernails; everything is keen and sharp.
The WCG and HDR really give some pop to the colours, check out the vibrant neon signs of the town, the green grass and leaves, reds of clothing, the night light blues; there is a richness and depth to all the primaries. Fire is nicely ‘hot’ as well.
Black level is good, in that it gives a tremendous frame depth, but there really aren’t any actual blacks, more a very dark grey, although I felt this gave the picture a projected quality and wasn't distracting. White scale is terrific, with plenty of bright highlights, hair sheen, chrome, pinpoint stars in the night sky.
Digitally there are no compression issues, and the original source is pristine, holding a firm and organic grain structure that gives the image a wonderful filmic look.
The inserted scenes to make the ‘Complete Novel’ edition are, for the most part, as clean as the theatrical scenes, occasionally there is a slight drop in quality, most noticeable in the hospital scene, where the colours fade, the blacks become elevated and the resolution dips, but this is rare, for the most part all is well.
The Outsiders Audio
Just the one track to chose from, English DTS-HD MA 5.1. First thing to note is that the surround channels are slightly elevated, this means the many ambient sounds that add to the environment (dogs barking, rain showers, street noise, crowds chatting at outdoor cinema etc), as well as the many songs that make up the score, are clear and distinct thus adding to the separation, and for the most part it comes across as a strong surround track. However, there are times, from about the start of the rumble onwards, when they do encroach a tad, and slightly overpower the dialogue, which is rather unfortunate.
Dialogue itself is clear and natural sounding, with directionality when needed. The score comes through well, and there is a real sense of a surround bubble. Bass is light, but grounds everything well, no distinct LF effects, even gunshots are light, but it is never lacking, just not one to shake the room. Separation and dynamics are good, and in quieter moments, in the church, outside in the streets etc. the surround environment does work well, but when you begin to notice the surround channels overpowering the front later in the film, it can become distracting.
The Outsiders Extras
A whole host of new and archive material are included on both the UHDs.
UHD 1 – Except commentaries, all new extras
The Complete Novel Edition
Audio Commentary – With Francis Ford Coppola
Audio Commentary – With Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio and Patrick Swayze
An Introduction to The Outsiders The Compete Novel – With Francis Ford Coppola
Restoring The Outsiders – Interview with Cinematographer Stephen Burum, Zoetrope Head of Archives and Restorations James Mockoski and Colourist Gregg Garvin
Stephen H Burum on The Outsiders
Outsider Looking In – Francis Ford Coppola on key scenes of a cult classic
Old House New Home – Featurette
UHD 2 – Previously available extras
Staying Gold: A Look Back at The Outsiders
NBC's News Today from 1983 "The Outsiders Started by School Petition"
7 Cast Members read extracts from the Novel
S.E. Hinton on Location in Tulsa
The Casting of "The Outsiders"
Deleted and Extended Scenes – Six scenes
Trailer – From 1983
Same as UHD 1
Same as UHD 2
Original soundtrack CD
64-page booklet – With exclusive introduction from C. Thomas Howell and a brand new interview with S.E Hinton by Lena Dunham
2 posters from artist Tony Stella
5 Artcards from James Hamilton photography
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The Outsiders 4K Blu-ray Review
The Outsiders is Francis Ford Coppola’s near page-by-page retelling of S.E. Hinton’s novel of the same name. With a host of young, raw, new up-and-coming talent eager to please, and telling the story, through Coppola’s lens, of two rival gangs living in outback-America coming to terms with the ramifications of bad choices, which draws on classical literature but remains emotionally charged, engaging and, despite its subject matter, sweetly innocent.
This 4 disc set from Studiocanal is petty special; the lovingly restored native 4K image is beautiful; well detailed, rich in colour and looking very film like; the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track does slightly suffer with elevated surround levels, but it does create a strong surround bubble and there is decent separation and good dynamics. The extras package is a mixture of old and new, and really show the cult status of the film.
The Outsiders is available on 4K Ultra HD from 8th November 2021.
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