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Housekeeping
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
  • English PCM Stereo
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Writer-Director Bill Forsyth on Housekeeping
  • Author Marilynne Robinson on Housekeeping
  • Director of Photography Michael Coulter on Housekeeping
  • Editor Michael Ellis on Housekeeping
  • BFI Interview with Bill Forsyth (1994, 36 mins): archival audio recording of an on-stage interview conducted by Nick James at the National Film Theatre, London
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: on-set and production materials from the personal collections of the filmmakers
  • Limited edition exclusive 32-page booklet featuring a new essay by David Archibald, a production report and contemporary reviews

Housekeeping

Dual-Format Edition
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Bill Forsyth
1987 | 107 Minutes

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: £15.95 | Series: Indicator | Edition: #29
Powerhouse Films

Release Date: May 22, 2017
Review Date: June 17, 2017

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SYNOPSIS

Director Bill Forsyth (That Sinking Feeling, Gregoryís Girl, Local Hero, Comfort and Joy) made his American film debut with this moving and offbeat adaptation of Marilynne Robinsonís acclaimed novel, about two young girls who are sent to live with their eccentric aunt (Christine Lahti).


PICTURE

Powerhouse Filmís Indicator line presents Bill Forsythís Housekeeping in a new dual-format edition, presenting the film on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The high-definition, 1080p/24hz master was supplied by Sony. This is a UK release but the disc is all-region so it will work on North American players.

There are no additional notes indicating where this was scanned from but wherever it has come from the end result looks stunning. There are a few minor marks like specs of dirt but the image is otherwise clean, free of any other severe problems.

Like with all of the Indicator titles I have come across so far the real selling point to this edition is the encode and digital presentation, which I canít really fault. Itís a very crisp image, very filmic ultimately, with clean movement and beautifully rendered grain. Details are quite sharp and distinct, with some softness creeping in (more related to photography and the filmís look), and both long shots (like all of the stunning landscape shots) and close-ups look equally good. The filmís colours arenít all that showy, a bit muted to suit the time I guess, but I still found them to look wonderful. At times they can even be fairly vibrant, with the most striking reds and oranges, particularly in some of those sunrise/sunset shots. Black levels are also good and short of a few murkier blacks in places the blacks are rich and inky, still delivering the details in the shadows.

As Iíve come to expect from Indicator it looks great. As the supplements hint the film has sort of fallen off of the map but despite this fact it looks like real effort has been put into this and the end results are certainly stunning.

8/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The filmís audio is presented in lossless PCM 2.0 stereo. Itís not a showy presentation but it sounds great. Dialogue is crisp and clear, music is rich with some surprising range while filling the environment, and itís free of any damage or distortion. Itís very rich, with excellent fidelity, never coming off muffled or filtered.

8/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Though Powerhouse Films only seems to currently license films from Sony I have to say they put a lot of effort into their releases. Surprisingly we get a number of new interviews here, starting with a 41-minute one with director Bill Forsyth. Though itís quite static (other than some clips from the film itís basically just Forsythís head on screen for 41-minutes) itís an incredibly engaging discussion. He talks in great detail about the production, from first coming across the book all the way through its eventual release and quick disappearance from theaters. In between he talks about casting, with Diane Keaton first intended for the Sylvie role (in another feature on here itís mentioned she dropped out in favour of Baby Boom) before the casting of Christine Lahti, along with what it was like shooting outside Vancouver BC in a town called Nelson (which pleasantly enough looked to be stuck in the appropriate era for the film). What I found most amusing was how he didnít quite know how a lot of the effects were pulled off in the film, showing he obviously just has good faith in his crew. But the most interesting portion is probably the last 10-minutes or so where he talks about how home video and digital are saving films like Housekeeping, which he is glad to see is getting a new life thanks to this release. Again itís a really wonderful interview.

We then get some more new interviews: a 13-minute one with author Marilynne Robinson, a 12-minute one with director of photography Michael Coulter, and a 10-minute one with editor Michael Ellis. Both Ellis and Coulter talk about some of their work with Forsyth (Coulter actually talks a bit more in-depth about his work prior to Housekeeping) and recall working on this film, Ellis talking about some of the filmís deleted scenes. Robinson the novel, her reasons for writing it, and then shares her thoughts on the film. Altogether theyíre a great batch of interviews.

We then get an archival feature: a 1994 audio recording of a BFI interview with Forsyth, recorded during a Q&A after a screening of the film at the National Film Theatre. Audience members ask questions, though theyíre unfortunately hard to hear (so Iím not always sure what Forsyth may have been responding to). But despite that itís another insightful discussion with the director, who repeats a couple of things mentioned in his other interview here (like the casting of Diane Keaton) but filled with other new goodies around the film. He also talks about what would have been his latest film at the time, Being Human, and the problems he had with the studio over that one. He makes mention of the problems that come with big stars, saying that not getting Keaton was probably a blessing with Housekeeping, and it was getting Williams for his latest film that brought in Warner Bros. and the headaches that came with that. Itís a great Q&A but what I liked most about the presentation is that itís actually an alternate audio track that plays over the first 34-minutes of the film.

The disc then closes with the filmís original theatrical trailer and a navigable photo gallery featuring a collection of production photos, storyboards, location scouts, and even daily schedules. Text notes are also included with some photos. The release then finally comes with a booklet, about on par with most of Arrowís and BFIís own booklets. Thereís a good essay by John Archibald on the film and Forsythís career (or unfortunate non-career) as of late. This is then followed by some archival material, including a reprint of a great, Sight & Sound article on the filmís production and release along with a collection of statements Forsyth had made about the film through the years in various interviews. They then collect a number of extracts from contemporary reviews on the film, including ones written by Roger Ebert, Vincent Canby, and Tom Milne (and thereís even a footnote correcting Milneís one comment). Itís an excellent booklet and nicely closes off the supplements.

9/10

CLOSING

The film gets a new lease on life thanks to Indicatorís wonderful release. It sports an impressive audio/video presentation and an excellent selection of supplements. It comes very highly recommended.




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