In 1889 a portion of Indian territory was open to the white population and on the stroke of midday Monday, April 22nd the biggest land rush in the history of the world had begun whereby the claiming of a stake in the ground gave ownership of that land to the lucky person. It is with this backdrop that director Ron Howard created his movie masterpiece.
Poor Irish farmer Joseph Donnelly (Tom Cruise) dreams of one day living the Irish dream, to own his own piece of land. At the moment, he, his two brothers and his father are renting their land off wealthy Daniel Christie (Robert Prosky). When Josephs father dies and his house burnt down by Mr Christies right hand man Steven (Thomas Gibson) that Joseph takes matters into his own hands and tries to kill Mr Christie.
He fails miserably and is in the care of the Christie family where he meets the feisty red-headed daughter Shannon (Nicole Kidman). Shannon can't stand to live this 'rich' life and longs to go to America, the modern world. She has a plan to participate in the biggest land giveaway and is determined to run-away from home with the help of Joseph. Joseph reluctantly accepts the offer and the two soon find themselves in Boston.
Needing money to survive and to get to Oklahoma, Shannon tries her hand at chicken plucking while Joseph takes his skill of fighting with his brothers to the local barehand boxing matches. They begin to make the money they need but when Joseph realises he his being owned by the heavies, he tries to break free and loses everything. Months pass, Shannons parents arrive in Boston to look after their daughter, whilst Joseph is working on the rail roads.
His dream of owning his own piece of land has gone, until his father comes to him in a dream and re-ignites the flame that once burnt brightly. The race is now on for Joseph to rescue his love and fulfill his dream.
Far and Away was the first feature film to be photographed on 65mm Eastman Kodak film with the Panavision Super 70mm camera. I remember this clearly when it was first released locally and I expected to see my first 70mm presentation. Alas, the local cinemas could only support 35mm film so the superior film quality could not be experienced.
This is the problem with the dvd transfer. It no way gives the impression that it was mastered from the original 65mm elements as the image quality is good at best. You could be excused for believing that it was taken from a good quality 35mm interpositive instead.
The image is reasonably sharp with little in the way of edge enhancement yet lacks detail in some aspects. The grandeur of the film just didn't come through as a result. Blacks were mediocre and shadow detail suffered. Colors were consistent throughout the movie but nothing too exciting to write a review about.
Along with the video, the audio lack substance too. On the up side we have some clear dialogue which provides for ease of listening to the entertaining story that unfolds.
On the downside, the presentation lacks proper use of the surrounds, providing a very weak interpretation of what could have been an overwhelming experience.
There is also a noticeable lack of bass throughout the movie until we strike the 96:20 mark where it suddenly appears. Throw in another short stint when the cannon fires to start off the race and there's you low frequency spectrum for the movie.