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review added: 10/10/00



Six Days in Roswell
Special Edition - 1998 (2000) - Benevolent Authority (Synapse)

review by Bill Hunt, editor of The Digital Bits

Six Days in Roswell: Special Edition Film Rating: A

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

Specs and Features

81 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, dual-layered (one layer for film, one for extras), Amaray keep case packaging, audio commentary with director Timothy B. Johnson, producer/editor Roger Nygard and star Rich Kronfeld, "behind the scenes" featurette An Experiment in the Desert: The Making of Six Days in Roswell, 35 minutes of deleted scenes (broken into 8 segments), 3 trailers (Six Days in Roswell long and short versions and Trekkies), early works from Johnson, Nygard and Kronfeld, photo gallery, reviewer quotes, production notes, credits, filmmaker bios, UFO facts & trivia, film festivals listing, website info, 3 Easter eggs (see text for details), film-themed menu screens, scene access (19 chapters), languages: English (DD 2.0), subtitles: none

UFO Enthusiast (about the Roswell crash): "What may have happened... may have happened..."

Oh my God is Six Days in Roswell funny! I'm talking wet your pants funny. I first saw this film at the Newport Beach Film Festival a few months ago with a group of friends, and I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. It's one of those films that just sets off an audience - the whole crowd was in stitches. I liked the film so much, in fact, that afterwards I spoke with the film's producer, Roger Nygard, and told him that I wanted to help him get the film released on DVD so everyone could enjoy it (you can read our recent interview with Nygard here). Roger's earlier film, Trekkies, was released by Paramount on DVD, but as a bare-bones, movie-only edition. I wanted to make sure that this film got better treatment. So Todd and I talked about it and put Roger in touch with Don May, Jr. of Synapse Films. I'm really happy to say that the result is this terrific little DVD special edition, which streets on November 14th.

Six Days in Roswell follows the adventures of one of Minnesota's most unusual native sons - the intrepid Rich Kronfeld. You may remember Rich from Trekkies - he was the guy with the motorized Captain Pike wheelchair (Rich really does own that chair, and Nygard assures me that Trekkies and Roswell are only the first two films in what will probably become a White Trash Trilogy). Rich, it seems, has a dream. He wants to be abducted by aliens. But there's a problem, as he says in the film: "Nobody from Minnesota ever gets abducted." So Rich sets out on a spiritual journey of sorts, to the virtual Mecca of UFOlogy - Roswell, New Mexico.

Roswell, as some of you may know, is the sight of an alleged 1947 crash of a UFO - a crash which yielded alien bodies that the government supposedly covered up. Now, it's become ground zero to a strange world of believers and abductees, UFOlogists and skeptics. Rich arrives in Roswell to take part in the 50th Anniversary celebration of the Crash, and what he finds a massive carnival atmosphere, rampant "cashing in" by local merchants and enough bizarre theories about UFOs to fill... well, a UFO. In the end, Rich may not have uncovered the truth about alien abduction, but he's certainly learned a thing or two about human nature. And he's given us 81 minutes of great laughs along the way.

Rich Kronfeld is just a true gem - he's one of the funniest guys I've ever seen on film. His deadpan reactions to the rogue's gallery of bizarre individuals he meets on his trip are perfect. They provide the jokes and Rich's dry, aloof commentary is the punchline. In this film, Rich enters a "flying saucer" pancake eating contest, rides his Captain Pike's chair in a small town parade, chats with self-proclaimed UFO "experts" like Stanton Friedman and Whitley Strieber, visits the "crash site" and the Roswell UFO Museum and even attends Roswell the Musical (a community theater retelling of the events of 1947). He must convince his Mother that getting abducted is an okay thing to do, and he even gets alien self defence lessons from a pair of shotgun-toting rednecks (which will come in handy if aliens ever attack Rich with knives and shotguns). And along the way, he interviews everyone he meets, hoping for tips that will lead to his own "close encounter". This is very funny stuff.

And this special edition DVD is a great way to experience the film for the first time. The film was shot on Super 16 and was blown up to 33mm for theatrical release, so what you get here is the original full frame. You're going to see some film grain, but I was really impressed at the quality of the video transfer. There's very little dust and dirt visible on the print and only minor artifacting. Edge enhancement isn't really a problem and the contrast is excellent. Granted, I previewed this disc on professional-grade studio monitors at the disc's authoring facility, Still in Motion, but the color was also very good. Roger and company spent a great deal of effort on color timing, so the hues here are bright and accurate. The audio on the disc is a standard Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix - no surround here. But the track is of perfectly good quality and it's more than adequate for the film. Dialogue is clear and natural sounding and the film's musical track is light and well represented in the mix.

But what Roger and I were really hoping for, when we first talked about this DVD, was to have lots of extras included. And thankfully, the folks at Synapse let Roger, Tim and Rich go nuts. First of all, you get a funny commentary track with the three of them together. Roger sort of sits back and talks about the stories behind each scene and steers the ship, while Tim talks in a straightlaced style about the process of filmmaking and Rich interjects amusing comments here and there. It's very engaging and delivers a few big laughs. There's also a 20-minute documentary on the making of the film, which is a really great piece on the process of low budget filmmaking. I got my start in the same world as these guys did - the Minnesota video production scene - and if you're an aspiring filmmaker yourself, I think you'll be encouraged to see what these guys have accomplished and how they did it. Then there's some 35 minutes of deleted scenes, and this stuff is every bit as good as what was in the final film - there are lots more good laughs here. You also get probably 30 minutes worth of earlier works from Roger, Tim and Rich. Again, if you want to become a filmmaker, you'll get to see exactly how these guys progressed, from their very first Super 8 films as kids to more professional quality works. And let me just say that Rich's reel is a frickin' riot. Rich is something of a cable-access comedy star back in the Twin Cities, and for good reason. Rich - if you're reading this, I've absolutely gotta see the rest of your Let's Bowl stuff. Damn, you're a funny man!

But there's lots more. You get a gallery of about a dozen production photos, production notes, UFO trivia, quotes from other folks who have reviewed the film and on and on. There's also three Easter eggs hidden in this disc, which include a trailer for one of Nygard's other films, a video clip on "the atomic age and its influence on household appliances" and an extended version of a piece seen in the film.

Todd and I had a hand in making this DVD happen, so we're probably biased. But this is a great little film, and Rich is gonna make you laugh. If you liked Trekkies, or even think you might be interested, then you owe it to yourself to pick up this disc. It's a fun little spin, packed full of extras that are going to entertain you as much as the film itself. This is one of those flicks that we think is gonna pick up a big cult audience on DVD. So get your friends together, order a pizza and give Six Days in Roswell a try. We're pretty crazy about it and we think you will be too.

Bill Hunt
billhunt@thedigitalbits.com




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