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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New conversation between Bill Forsyth and film critic David Cairns
  • Shooting from the Heart, a 1985 documentary about the work of cinematographer Chris Menges
  • Episode of The South Bank Show from 1983 about the production of the film
  • The Making of ďLocal Hero,Ē a documentary made during the filmís production, featuring interviews with actors Burt Lancaster and Peter Riegert
  • I Thought Maybe Iíd Get to Meet Alan Whicker, a 1983 interview with Bill Forsyth on his early career in documentaries, his first narrative features, and the success of Local Hero
  • An essay by film scholar Jonny Murray

Local Hero

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Bill Forsyth
1983 | 111 Minutes | Licensor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #994
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: September 24, 2019
Review Date: September 23, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

Bill Forsyth put Scottish cinema on the map with this delightfully eccentric culture-clash comedy. Riffing on popular representations of Scottish life and folklore, Local Hero follows the Texas oil executive Mac (Peter Riegert), who is dispatched by his crackpot boss (Burt Lancaster) to a remote seaside village in Scotland with orders to buy out the town and develop the region for an oil refinery. But as business mixes with pleasure, Mac finds himself enchanted by both the picturesque community and its oddball denizensóand Texas starts to feel awfully far away. Packed with a near nonstop stream of droll one-liners and deadpan gags, this enchanting cult hit finds Forsyth surveying the idiosyncrasies of small-town life with the satirical verve of a latter-day Preston Sturges, arriving at a sly commentary on conservation, corporate greed, and the legacies we leave behind.


PICTURE

Bill Forsythís highly regarded Local Hero makes its Blu-ray debut courtesy of The Criterion Collection, who present the film on this dual-layer disc in the aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The new 2K restoration was handled by Goldencrest Films. Criterion has done some further restoration for this release.

For the first time in a very long time Criterion does not specify where this new restoration has been sourced from (the only other title I recall not sharing the source materials used was the original 1998 DVD for The Lady Vanishes). Based on the overall quality of the picture Iím going to guess itís sourced from the negative, or an element not too far removed. Just in the detail department this presentation wipes the floor with the original Warner DVD I had rented years ago. The charming coastal village comes to vivid life here, thanks to the clearer details found on the older buildings, the rocks along the coast, the lone church in the field (that I was shocked to learn from the commentary was just a faÁade, not a real church!) and the waves of the ocean. Even the textures look lifelike (fabric on clothing in particular), and depth is superb. The colours can be a little muted for a majority of the time, though I think this is by design, but there are many moments where the colours pop, whether it be during a sunset or sunrise, or the red phone booth along the water, or during some of the nighttime exterior shots, which deliver incredibly rich blues. Black levels are also solid.

Film grain is there, surprisingly heavy even, and itís rendered well, though at times I felt it could have a wee-bit of a noisy, digital look. The restoration work has also been unbelievably thorough, and Iím hard pressed to recall any sort of damage ever popping up. The film really looks remarkable, a substantial step-up over Warnerís previous DVD edition.

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 film comes with a simple but still impressive PCM 1.0 mono presentation. I was pleased with the presentation, which manages to surprise with its range. Dialogue is low key but distinguishable and easy to hear, while the coastal sound effects (waves, seagulls, etc.) and the filmís music manage to deliver some surprising depth despite being limited to the center channel.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Despite a loyal fanbase and the filmís high regard, Warner Bros. has never shown the film any real love, only giving it a mediocre DVD release. Criterion really goes the extra mile here, packing on a staggering amount of material, which bordered on over-whelming at one point.

The big surprise here (as it wasnít included on the original announcement) is a brand new audio commentary featuring director Bill Forsyth and critic Mark Kermode, recorded for the UK Blu-ray edition. Forsyth talks a lot about the production, from inception to release, and Kermode is there to share his own thoughts on the film, ask questions about the directorís intentions, and just keep the track going. Interestingly Forsyth explains that he is now so detached from the film that itís easy for him to just sit and watch (and enjoy it!) but that doesnít stop him from heaping his own praise on aspects of the film, in particular the work of his crew and cast. It ends up being an engaging and rewarding discussion so Iím beyond pleased Criterion saw fit to license it last minute.

Exclusively for their edition Criterion has recorded a new interview between director Bill Forsyth and film scholar David Cairns. Like Kermode, Cairns is an enormous admirer of the film, calling it Forsythís most perfect film. Forsyth again talks about development but the two get a little more into certain aspects, including a few performances (like Peter Riegertís) and Forsyth proudly shares a letter written to him about the film by Michael Powell, who praised the film but criticized Lancasterís performance. This bit was a particularly charming little moment. The discussion runs about 16-minutes.

Criterion then packs on a lot of archival televisions segments around the film, starting with Shooting from the Heart, a 52-minute television program from 1985 about director of photography Chris Menges. Looking at his work (including the recent The Killing Fields) the documentary not only gets an insightful interview with Menges (who also talks about his documentary work), it also gets interviews with various actors and directors that had worked for him, including Jeremy Isaacs, Ken Loach, and Stephen Frears.

Criterion then includes a 52-minute episode of The South Bank Show, which focuses around the making of Local Hero. The program is divided into two parts, the first half focused specifically on the actual development and filming, getting interviews with Forsyth and producer David Puttnam. Burt Lancaster and Menges also pop up to talk about the film and their work on it. The first half offers a wonderful look at filming on location, but I found myself more fascinated by the second half of the program, which focuses on post-production. A chunk of it is dedicated to the editing of the film but the part I was most drawn into was the last portion where we get a first-hand look at a meeting around the filmís marketing, and the exhaustive discussion into who the film should be aimed for. An absolutely fascinating behind-the-scenes look.

Although the last feature offered a very thorough look into the making of the film, Criterion still sees fit to add another program made for Scottish Television in 1983, The Making of ďLocal Hero.Ē Though some of the same ground is covered this one expands on things by providing production footage from the portion of the film that takes place in Texas, along with a detailed look into the filmís sets (a few of which caught me by surprise because the whole film feels to have been shot on location). This feature also runs 52-minutes.

And we get yet another interview with Forsyth with I Thought Maybe Iíd Get to Meet Alan Whicker, though this one is about his career as a whole, with Forsyth talking about his early work and his career up to that point, including Local Hero. It runs 26-minutes.

The disc then concludes with the filmís American trailer, and then the included insert features a lengthy essay by Jonathan Murray, explaining the filmís appeal to its fans, including its dreaminess, while also getting a little into its impact on Scottish cinema.

Sadly Criterion didnít get new interviews with any of the cast members still with us (Riegert and Capaldi, at the very least, would have been great subjects) but we do, at the very least get archival interviews with them spread out. Outside of that this is about as complete a set of supplements I could imagine for the film.

9/10

CLOSING

Those fond of the film will be beyond thrilled with this edition from Criterion, which delivers on all fronts: a sharp and stunning A/V presentation and rich collection of supplements. Highly recommended.


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Purchase From:
amazon.com  amazon.ca