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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 2/17/00

1984 (2000) - Columbia TriStar

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Birdy Film Rating: B+

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B-/B+/B-

Specs and Features

120 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, full frame (1.33:1), dual-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, cast and crew bios, liner notes by director Alan Parker, theatrical trailers for Birdy, 8MM, Guarding Tess, It Could Happen to You, Red Rock West, Midnight Express and Road to Wellville, film-themed menu screens, scene access (28 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0) and Portuguese (DD mono), subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai, Closed Captioned

Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage star in Birdy, a very haunting character study about the value of friendship and triumph of the human spirit. Man, I'm a blurb writing machine!

Modine is Birdy, a quiet, introverted kid who's only dream in this world is to fly. He's not all that keen on getting on a plane though. Birdy wants to actually fly on his own. We first meet Al (Cage), Birdy's best friend, after Al has had his face blown off in Vietnam. He's struggling with the fact that he may not know himself when he finally gets the bandages that cover his reconstructed face removed. He soon learns that Birdy is in a Army mental ward, half catatonic and rocking back and forth crouched on the floor. The doctors think that Al may be able to help him break free of his mental state, and Al is willing to try -- even if he's afraid that he may actually belong in the asylum with Birdy. As the film unfolds, we explore their friendship, history and some secrets that lie trapped in Birdy's mind waiting to come unhatched.

Alan Parker expertly directs this film, and it really is pretty hypnotizing to watch. The acting is very good from everyone involved -- including some supporting actors that I've never seen before or since. The other thing that helps keep you involved, is the minimalist score by Peter Gabriel. It's quite moving and it just fits the film so well. Fans of Gabriel may recognize much of the music in this film as sans-vocal versions of tracks on his 1982 album Security.

In terms of quality, this isn't the best disc from Columbia TriStar. Right off the bat, there are some problematic blacks during the opening credits and the rest of the film exhibits some of the same artifacting (even with the anamorphic-enhanced transfer). The print also isn't in the greatest shape - there is some evident film grain, but it's nothing that would cause any problems with the viewing experience. Sound-wise, it's a good disc. It's in its original stereo and sounds great. Extras include some trailers for other Columbia-owned Cage and Parker films (Road to Wellville is included, which I hope signals an upcoming release on DVD) and an insert with liner notes written by Parker. Not too bad for a standard edition disc.

Don't get me wrong -- the disc is in no way unwatchable. Some minor video faults are easy to overlook, given Columbia's track record and the age of this film. It still looks way better than video. Birdy has always been one of those movies you save for a rainy day, and now that it's on DVD, there can no better reason to watch it. This film shows that people are strange... but people who don't have DVD yet are the strangest out there.

Todd Doogan
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