Elected with the greatest majority of any US president, Lyndon Johnson (Michael Gambon,who will be replacing Richard Harris as Professor Dumbledore) begins his administration withgreat hopes for the positive transformation of American society. But he listens to the wrongpeople about Vietnam (Alec Baldwin instead of Donald Sutherland), and little by little everythinggets swallowed up by the war. Though long, this is one compelling drama, and much of thedialogue is spooky in …ow closely it echoes words being spoken at press conferences today. Oneof John Frankenheimer’s most celebrated films is the political thriller Seven Days in May, and itseems fitting that he ended his career with something similar, with the difference that this time,tragically, the story is real.
The left-right effects are decent, as is the environment created by the sound effects. This is,of course, a dialogue-heavy film, and the dialogue sounds fine, with some minor distortioncreeping in only once or twice. The mix is in 2.0.
The picture is widescreen (1.78:1 from the looks of it). The colours are good, withinterestingly sharp contrasts creating a nice period look. The flesh tones and blacks are alsostrong, and the image is very sharp. There are some scenes here and there that are quite grainy.Sometimes this is clearly deliberate (matching new footage to stock footage), but on otheroccasions I’m not entirely sure this is the case. The layer transition is extremely clumsy, cuttingDonald Sutherland off in mid-conversation.
You’ve got your usual clutch of promo featurettes (three of them), which are of very limitedinterest. Of more interest are the print features: good, detailed bios of the cast, director and writerDaniel Giat; a helpful timeline (“Milestones on the Path to War”) covering Vietnam from 1945to 2000; 2 screens of quotes from the principle players of the war; stats on Johnson’s publicapproval ratings and the casualties of Vietnam; captioned photos of Johnson; and a veryintersting interview with Frankenheimer, which shows that he was very conscious of the film’salarming parallels with current events. The DVD-ROM features include a timeline and an“interactive strategy simulator.” The menu is basic.
A powerful film, with some small but interesting features. This would make excellentcompanion viewing with Thirteen Days.
Special Features List
- 3 Featurettes
- Cast and Crew Bios
- LBJ Slideshow
- Q&A with John Frankenheimer