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  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Surround
  • German: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Czech: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Polish: Dolby Digital Mono
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  Extras
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  • Cast/crew biographies
  • Production notes

Scent Of A Woman

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 150 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

It seems incredible that veteran actor and part-time legend Al Pacino won his first Oscar with his portrayal of Frank Slade in SCENT OF A WOMAN, 20 years after THE GODFATHER. I saw him receive the coveted statuette before watching the film itself, and I remembered that his amazing acceptance speech was as powerful and moving as the verbal napalm he unleashed upon the assembly at Baird college during the film's finale. After enduring two TV broadcasts -- full-frame, censored, and strewn with aftershave commercials -- I waited patiently for that golden Pacino performance to arrive on DVD, anamorphic and remixed into DD 5.1.

The good news is that it's now on our favourite format in widescreen and waiting at your local JB Lo-Fi shop. The bad news is that it is not anamorphic and in Dolby Surround only. Spinning the disc, my disappointment lasted all of twelve minutes into the movie, just as Frank hurls a cushion at "that little piece of tail" in his window. From that point on we are all living in Charlie's trembling boots as Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade drags us by the lapels into his world.

SCENT OF A WOMAN is not a great film. At 150 minutes it leaves you feeling short changed, despite witnessing the heart-bursting triumph of both characters over their inner demons, several magnificent set pieces, and assured direction by Martin (MEET JOE BLACK) Brest. In the same amount of screen time the Wild Bunch managed to rob a bank, steal a train, screw around, and slaughter an entire army; I guess they didn't have Frank Slade to deal with. Pacino gets excellent backup from the supporting cast, namely O'Donnell as quiet Charlie from Oregon.

With no word of a special edition underway from Universal's sweat shop, this local release of SCENT OF A WOMAN via Columbia-Tristar will at least spare you the horrors of free-to-air television or VHS playback. (In fact the truncated US TV and airline version was disowned by Martin Brest and credited to Alan Smithee.)

  Video
Contract

The pitfalls of a non-anamorphic transfer are visible here. Matted to 1.85:1, the image suffers from some aliasing thanks to the lower resolution, where as the region 1 DVD is anamorphic. Shadow detail was also limited.

On the plus side, colour saturation is good (as it was for the broadcast version), sharpness and detail are evident throughout, I don't remember seeing any film artefacts, there is very little film grain, and MPEG compression problems are non-existant or went unnoticed. Nothing in this consistent transfer really draws attention to itself once the movie gets going, even when the frame was zoomed to fill my 16:9 TV screen. This is a good non-anamorphic job which looks very plush on a native 4:3 setting. The standout scene for visuals is the Ferrari joyride; you can almost smell the leather upholstry and touch the red paintwork.

  Audio
Contract

Given that SCENT OF A WOMAN lacks a D-day Omaha Beach sequence, the Dolby Surround technology we have here is adequate for a film of this nature. Then again, the Dolby Digital soundtrack for AT FIRST SIGHT elevated my enjoyment of the film on a purely aesthetic level, and the same would have been true for SCENT OF A WOMAN.

This mix engages the surrounds from time to time, for instance when the brats are using the PA system to chide Headmaster Trask, and in general for ambient crowd and street sounds, but these are usually no more than whispers. The audio design is not dynamic, not that there is a need for it with the predominantly front-staged action. Thomas Newman's music is full-bodied and rich with detail and separation (the horns extend nicely to the back of the room), and all dialogue is loud and clear. I considered using cinema equalisation to dampen Pacino's loudest verbalisations, which were harsh at full throttle. I speculate that a Dolby Digital mix would have handled them better.

  Extras
Contract

Production/cast notes and a murky, full-frame trailer in Pro-Logic are the only extras provided.

  Overall  
Contract

Our SCENT OF A WOMAN DVD is not as good as it could be. We get a non-anamorphic transfer (the packaging incorrectly specifies a 16:9 enhanced image) with a reasonably good Pro-Logic sound mix. Personally I love watching this film, flawed as it is, and all things considered this DVD is preferable to other options such as VHS and TV. From what I've read the region 1 DVD appears to be better, but it is not perfect, either.


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      And I quote...
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    - Rod Williams
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Panasonic A130MU
    • TV:
          Loewe Ergo 76cm 16x9
    • Decoder:
          Denon AVD-2000
    • Amplifier:
          Arcam AV50
    • Speakers:
          ALR/Jordan Entry 5M
    • Centre Speaker:
          ALR/Jordan Entry 3M
    • Surrounds:
          ALR/Jordan Entry 2M
    • Subwoofer:
          B&W ASW-1000
    • Audio Cables:
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    • Video Cables:
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      Recent Reviews:
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