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  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Commentary - English: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Mono
    English, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, English - Hearing Impaired, Italian - Hearing Impaired
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Alan Parker
  • Featurette
  • 12 Interviews
  • Awards/Nominations - 2 pages
  • Documentaries


Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 128 mins . M15+ . PAL


When I was a kid, Fame was like M*A*S*H. Both were films I wasn’t allowed to see but had offshoot TV series I could. I didn’t watch Fame the TV show, but I did like M*A*S*H (no matter how many times my brother says he ‘discovered’ it, it was me).

Anyway, I remember certain moments from the show; Leroy’s antics, the crazy old Mr Shorofsky, the lack of Irene Cara...

And many others.

"Maybe I die undiscovered and my ghost gets the Grammy!"

Everyone must know this story by now, but here goes anyway. Fame follows the trials and tribulations of going to a special school for the arts, where kids learn darnce, theatre lighting and other important things (cartooning and animation notably missing). On top of that they must also do regular schoolwork (like dating, the prom and peer pressure). We follow the progress of several kids from auditions to graduation and, amidst this, their personal lives and how they change.

There are several things which date this film severely that might put some people off. Synthesiser music. No spandex or lycra workout gear...

And many others.

I found the progress through the years odd as a whole year could go by in 20 minutes with some storylines left unresolved (in Harry Potter they do a full year over three hours!) There just doesn’t seem to be much substance to the story as we are dragged through one success or failure after another. There have certainly been many, many films since that have dealt with similar themes of fame, youth alienation, coming out, first love...

And many others. But these have come later. Like the first computers were once state of the art, now they’re dinosaurs. Know what I mean? This film is outdated and slow by the newer standards of filmmaking that have come since. I really feel characters aren’t defined well enough and they are catering to too many of them throughout. Plus, too many aspects of ‘fame’ itself. Comedy, darnce, singing, acting, music...

And many others. Also, there are a couple of musical numbers (that aren’t part of a show) that kinda confused me a little. Is this a musical or not? It just doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind (there are only three big numbers, by the way).

I seriously looked forward to watching this film (finally, after so many years. Take that Mum!) but was let down by its sluggish story and outdated themes. I really tried my hardest to like it, I really did. Every generation has its rebel youth picture(s) doesn’t it? Fame worked well at the time it was in cinemas (1980) but as for now it doesn’t have the durability of others like Rebel Without a Cause, Grease...

And many others.


Well, the video here actually looks pretty good considering. Delivered in 1.85:1 with 16:9 enhancement, the picture is quite clean and free of artefacts. There are a couple to be fair, but not a lot, which is a plus. Shadows are a little deep but fluctuate in being free of detail and divulging details. Blacks look good throughout while a lot of the colour is fairly even and well balanced. Some close ups of neon get pretty heavy, but this is deliberate I’m sure.

Instances incorporating hand held (and thereby shaky) cameras add to the backstage tension of several scenes, but some usage doesn’t seem justified, unless we take into consideration the use of actual interiors and their cramped conditions. Flesh tones are all okay if occasionally a little pallid, but I figure that’s from ballerinas drinking TAB or dipping into the talcum powder.


A movie about showbiz must feature music and to do so it should deliver that music with decent sound. To this end, Fame has itself a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 surround setup that brings every synthesised track, prima donna outburst or teacher rant to pristine life. After listening to some quite dodgy songs or some dodgier synthesised music, you may wonder if it was entirely necessary, but that I shall leave with you.

Dialogue is delivered fairly well with plenty of Bronx accents strewn about liberally and sound effects are all okay as well, but music is the winner of this audio package.


Perhaps padding out the film a little to sweeten the deal, we get a varied sampling of extras here. The first is a featurette entitled On Location With Fame, which runs for a grainy 12 minutes. This is a compilation of interviews with director Alan Parker and actors Maureen Teefy and Antonia Francheschi in 1980 with behind the scenes and film footage. Running as a ‘making of’ basically, it is a bit soft edged but serviceable in 4:3, and an interesting salvage.

The Fame Field Trip clocks in next at 11 minutes and is again 4:3. This is a recent ‘documentary’ about the actual Performing Arts School in New York and is pretty much an ad for a school you’ll never get into. It’s quite tacky and clichéd and even features cutting edge effects like scratchy film and enlarged black and white edits with film noise. Weak, dudes.

The interview gallery contains two to three minute sound bites from the stars of the film today in a recording studio individually discussing the film. This is interesting as a ‘where are they now’ kinda thing, but looks like it was filmed during the recording of the audio commentary as film footage is running in the bottom corner. However, when flipping to that bit of the pic, they aren’t speaking on the audio commentary. The irony is they call the audio commentary a ‘class reunion commentary’, yet I didn’t hear anyone but the director Alan Parker speaking. And while he has some interesting things to impart, a single person doing a commentary can get fairly dull.

The last two are easy. The theatrical trailer running at 1.85:1 and 16:9 for two minutes 50 has plenty of artefacts and crap all over it and a really dodgy voiceover. Finally, there’s two text pages documenting the awards the film has picked up over the years.

So, an interesting bag that definitely adds to this DVD experience, though a bit confusing regarding the audio commentary and the 'class reunion' nonsense.


Having won Academy Awards and all I thought maybe I’d missed something and started watching it for a second time. I didn’t get it then either. I’m probably talking from a modern film viewer’s perspective in saying I just don’t see what all the hullabaloo was about this film. I honestly tried to like it, but found myself drifting away to thoughts of how I’d finish my deadlines this week, what I’d do on the weekend, where I’d put that new bookcase...

And many others.

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      And I quote...
    "Fame!... we’re gonna live forever! (On DVD, at least)."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Nintaus DVD-N9901
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Receiver:
    • Speakers:
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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