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(30th Anniversary 2-Disc Special Edition)

SYBIL ($25) is one of the television miniseries that I distinctly remember watching when it premiered on television in 1976. In the title role, Sally Field gave a tremendous, unforgettable, Emmy Award winning performance that changed the course of her career and put her on the track towards multiple Oscar glory. SYBIL is based upon true events and tells the story of Sybil Dorsett (Sally Field); a troubled young woman whose odd behavior lands her in an emergency room after lacerating her hand. There, Sybil encounters Dr. Cornelia Wilbur (Joanne Woodward), who comes to recognize that there is far more wrong with her new patient beyond her physical wounds.

At first, Sybil is reluctant to seek psychiatric help, but when another personality manifests itself and seeks out Dr. Wilburís help on Sybilís behalf, the doctor begins treating Sybil in earnest for multiple personality disorder. Over the course of her treatment, Sybil manifests a total of thirteen personalities, all of whom serve to protect her from the tormented memories of a childhood that Sybil cannot face and refuses to remember. The cast of SYBIL also features Brad Davis, Martine Bartlett, Jane Hoffman, Charles Lane, Jessamine Milner and William Prince.

Warner Home Video has made the complete 187-minute version of SYBIL available on DVD in the proper 4:3 full screen aspect ratio of its original television broadcast. Image quality is surprisingly good, producing a crisp and nicely defined picture. Colors are pretty accurate and appear nicely saturated, especially for 1970ís vintage television film stocks, which had a tendency appear rather dull. Blacks are deep and the whites are stable. Contrast is fine, although some of the inherent TV lighting flatness comes across during the miniseries. At times grain is noticeable, but is never excessive. Occasional blemishes crop up, though these too are not significant. Digital compression artifacts are usually well concealed.

SYBIL comes with a perfectly fine Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack (which sounds very much like monaural). Most signs of background hiss and noise have been cleaned up in the mastering process, which leaves the track with a generally smooth and reasonably pleasant sound quality. Dialogue is crisply rendered and remains totally understandable. Fidelity has some limitations, but sonically, everything holds up well enough. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but Spanish and French subtitles are provided.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental features, which have been included on disc two of the set. Examining Sybil is a nearly hour long look at the production and features interviews with cast and crewmembers. The Paintings Of Sybil offers a look at the artwork of the real life Sybil, while Sybil Therapy Session briefly examines how the actual material was incorporated into the film.

Even after thirty years, SYBIL remains a powerful and compelling television miniseries. Warnerís DVD edition makes the entire film available for the first time in a long time and the presentation is first rate. Recommended.



Sybil (30th Anniversary Two-Disc Special Edition) (1976)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2006 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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