Sarah Miles is the spoiled young daughter of Leo McKern. In the troubled Ireland of 1916, she falls in love with, and marries, middle-aged schoolteacher Robert Mitchum. Their marriage hits troubled waters when she begins a passionate affair with a young English officer, which is a politically delicate move, to say the least.
Ach and begorra, but ‘tis a wee long, the story is, to be sure. This simple love triangle is stretched out over a mind-boggling 206 minutes. Everything is Oiri…h in the extreme, and for all that we are told the locals have a legitimate beef with the English occupier, said locals are presented as an unthinking mob of unreconstructed troglodytes, which leads one to think that they need an conquering power to prevent them from lapsing into total savagery. Everything is extremely pretty, but a landscape does not a movie make, and when the scenery is given such a prominent place in the ad copy on the back of the box, you know you’re in trouble.
The 5.1 sound is a mixed bag, reflecting the age of the film (1970). In the first place, the volume level is rather low. What comes off best is the music, which is suitably majestic (for the length of the film, anyway), and makes good use of all speakers. But that is about it. All other sound remains stubbornly limited to the front speakers. It’s all very clear, and pretty much free of distortion, but there are plenty of missed opportunities for surround sound effects.
The print is in great shape. The colours are very strong, as are the flesh tones, blacks and contrasts. The image is sharp, there is no grain or edge enhancement visible, and best of all, there is no damage to speak of. So David Lean’s pretty pictures are intact, and if there is one thing that this director could do well, even on (as is the case here) a bad day, it was shoot pretty pictures. The aspect ratio looks like 2.20:1 anamorphic widescreen.
There’s an epic commentary here, with some 13 participants, ranging from original cast and crew to Lean’s widow to biographers to directors to critics (and Richard Schickel was not a fan of the film). This is a very smart and interesting piece of work, with the various participants introduced as they speak, thank goodness. Along with two vintage featurettes, there is a solid three-part documentary, which delves into the making of the film and its critical lambasting. Two theatrical trailers are also present. The main screen of the menu is scored.
Nice package, which is pretty much what one can say of the movie itself. Worth it for the commentary alone, though.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary
- Three-Part Documentary
- 2 Vintage Featurettes
- Theatrical Trailers