and Her Sisters
(2001) - Orion (MGM)
by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/C/D+
Specs and Features
107 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical
trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (20 chapters),
languages: English, French and Spanish (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles:
English, French and Spanish, Closed Captioned
as one of Woody Allen's best films, the often hilarious, often
frightening Hannah and Her Sisters
is one of Woody's most personal films. If you're aware of his very
public personal history, Hannah
almost serves as a cinematic look back into his life at that period,
and the various sub-plots almost certainly give a glimpse into his
Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her two sisters Lee (Barbara Hershey) and
Holly (Dianne Weist, in an Oscar winning role) have grown up
together and are still quite close. Hannah is currently married to
Elliot (Michael Caine, also an Oscar winner here), a professor who's
looking for dependency in a lover, and hasn't found it in Hannah.
Lee is currently living with an introspective artist (Max von Sydow)
who despises all people except for Lee. With his cold attitude
towards life, and his indifference to her, Lee finds the love that
she requires in Elliot, who in turn finds dependency in Lee.
But the feeling leaves Elliot, and he decides to leave Lee, because
he doesn't want to hurt Hannah, and he needs her much more than Lee.
But Lee's dependence on Elliot only grows, and this once happy
co-dependence has only become complacent. Meanwhile, Holly, formerly
a struggling actress, has turned to screenwriting, and her first
screenplay about a love-lost woman who sleeps with her sister's
husband hits a little too close for Hannah, who has recently been
feeling that Elliot has been completely honest with her. Can the
successful and controlling Hannah snap her life back into shape, or
is her family's envied hatred of her going to tear the family apart?
Are are you still with me after all that?
Hannah and Her Sisters is
uneasily funny. While you find yourself laughing at the awkward
situations and the comic interior monologues, you know that there is
a certain level of hatred lying underneath the surface whether the
characters realize it or not. Both Lee and Holly are very unhappy,
and it seems to have started back when they released that Hannah was
their parents' favorite. This is a cutting film about familial
relationships and the desire to be loved and acknowledged, and it
rightfully won a third Oscar for Best Screenplay.
The DVD release for this film contains a nice anamorphic widescreen
transfer. I didn't notice any distracting edge enhancement halos or
compression artifacts. The colors seem a little soft and, I dare
say, not saturated enough. But the blacks are as deep as they
probably can be. And with little grain or scratches on the print,
and a nice level of dimensionality, this is not a bad transfer for a
The audio is in 2.0 mono and, unlike most of Woody's films, the
music actually seems to overwhelm some of the dialogue (although for
the most part it's passable, like most of his film sound). An
anamorphic trailer is also provided by way of extras.
Like most other Woody films, this DVD is nothing to really test
your system with, but fans of this film will definitely want to own
it. If you're looking for an intelligent, thought provoking comedy
that really isn't a comedy, then the superb Hannah
and Her Sisters is one you might want to check out.