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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
  • None
  Extras
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 4 Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes

Goodbye Mr Chips (2002)

BBC/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 99 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Martin Clunes stars as the loveable Mr Chipping, a Latin teacher at Brookside Boys College in the 1870s. We follow his life through tragedy and triumph as he progresses through the hierarchy of the school, attempting to right wrongs and change injustices whilst still successfully teaching the boys. It’s a bittersweet tale of life and love, of sadness and of joy and is in the same vein as that other teaching classic Mr Holland’s Opus.

Whilst obviously made for television, the story still seems to have been sterilised a little, cutting out some pertinent horrors of both regular life and wartime. This leaves the film feeling a little less insightful and a little less full. Progressing through around 50 years in the space of 99 minutes doesn’t help this feeling of incompleteness much either. Therein lays a curious conundrum: The film probably couldn’t stand to have even another half an hour added, yet the film is emptier without that extra story. Editing is always a hard thing to do in a picture and when made for television, there just isn’t the room for creative freedom regarding time that a picture can benefit from when in the cinema.

However, this is still a fine work and an enjoyable watch, though the timeline seems to skew a little at times and confuse us as to when it is in others. As certain characters grow up and depart, others come in and it gets a little confusing with so many boys’ names to remember along with their individual stories. Still, it’s a well-shot piece and has a good message hidden beneath, it just gets a little clunky in its delivery at times.

  Video
Contract

The transfer to DVD has been accomplished quite well here. The TV widescreen ratio of 1.78:1 has been treated with a sweet 16:9 enhancement. There are very few, if any, film artefacts and the countryside and landscape shots have been shot beautifully. There is a subtle greenish tint to some scenes in Mr Chips’ early career that adds a freshness to the screen in what appears a reflection of youth. This is a nice touch that disappears as Mr Chips ages into a deeper maturity. Some of the blacks in this time suffer a little bit of greenism themselves at these early junctures, but have levelled out into a solid near-black grey by film’s end. Detail remains in shadows, though, and the deep greys don’t really affect the story. The picture is actually quite crisp throughout making some pallid English skintones all the more white, but hey, it is Engerland.

No aliasing is evident throughout, but there is a curious and small ‘speeded’ cutaway at 29:04-07 that seems slightly bizarre compared to the surrounding scene.

  Audio
Contract

The sound is quite suitable, being presented in good old Dolby Digital 2.0, which seems to be the weapon of choice for English television drama. The dialogue all comes through clearly and is legible throughout and the limited sound effects are also delivered quite clearly. This includes some old school machine guns and airplanes from World War I and these are both delivered well rounded out.

My only real fault with the sound is that it’s been transferred a teeny bit too low, but the levels between dialogue, SFX and music have all been handled quite well.

  Extras
Contract

Not a great deal, in that most are just text pages. However, they are informative and contain two three-page Biographies on Martin Clunes and Victoria Hamilton, plus a two pager on Conleth Hill. There are also ten pages of text about the History of Mr Chips on stage and screen, plus a Writer’s Biography giving reasons and inspirations for the work and its publications.

Finally, the three-minute Trailer has also found its way onto the disc. Again, not a great deal of extras but they do offer some interesting info on the production.

  Overall  
Contract

For lovers of teaching drama, this DVD easily ranks alongside the myriad of teaching classics gracing shelves everywhere. Its trim length doesn’t help us to connect with as many students as would appear the intention of the creators, and this is unfortunate. Some might say, well it’s about Mr Chips, not the students, but the reply would be that Mr Chips is defined mostly by his treatment of students and so we need to feel for them to better understand him.

It’s a well-made production by television standards and is bound to find an army of admirers, particularly in Martin Clunes’ wonderful performance in the lead role. We forget very soon into the piece that he was in Men Behaving Badly and he convinces us he has always been Mr Chips. His performance is the saving grace of this film and one that will earn him new fans without doubt. Allover, between the wonderful attention to detail of the age, Clunes’ performance and the bittersweet story within, this will make for a nice indoors-on-a-wet-evening film for anyone interested in some not-too-heavy/not-too-light entertainment.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2771
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      And I quote...
    "A sterile portrayal of the late 19th century through to WWI in which Martin Clunes shines."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
          Diamond
    • Speakers:
          Diamond
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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