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SHINE ($25) is a marvelous film, which takes one inside the world of a truly tortured artist. Geoffrey Rush won an Academy Award and Golden Globe award for his brilliant and idiosyncratic performance as Australian pianist David Helfgott. Helfgott could have been one of the greatest virtuoso pianists of all time, but a mental breakdown put an early end to his career. The breakdown left Helfgott fairly disassociated from the real world, but the brilliance of his talent couldn’t be snuffed out, and he was able to make a triumphant return to performing.

SHINE is not a disease of the week television movie, and director Scott Hicks purposely avoided the specifics of Helfgott’s mental difficulties when he developed the story for the screen. Instead, SHINE celebrates the human experience and Helfgott’s musical brilliance. In addition to Rush, the cast of SHINE features a number of equally gifted performers. Noah Taylor brings Helfgott’s formative years to life, with a performance that clearly demonstrates the mental vulnerability of the young musician. Armin Mueller-Stahl turns in a devastating performance as Helfgott’s father. What can one say about John Giulgud that hasn’t already been said about the master thespian; Giulgud is teacher who helps Helfgott reach his full musical potential and to discover the passion inside the music. Lynn Redgrave has one of the most difficult roles in the film. Redgrave has a very short period to bring to life the woman who comes to love and marry the brilliant but challenged pianist, and she succeeds beautifully.

New Line Home Video has created a Special Edition for this DVD release. On this Special Edition, SHINE is presented in the Letterbox format only reserving the second side of the DVD for supplementary materials. The Letterboxed transfer presents SHINE in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the framing appears correct. The transfer is crisp, well detailed and the colors are quite vibrant. Digital artifacts were never a problem or overtly noticeable on this DVD.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack has a subdued mix, although there is one key musical sequence that explodes out through the five channels. The film’s soundtrack does feature recordings of Helfgott’s own piano performances, and they sound terrific on the Dolby Digital track. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround soundtrack, as well as a French language track. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus have musical accompaniment featuring David Helfgott performing FLIGHT OF THE BUMBLEBEE. Through the interactive menus one can access the cast and director biographies/filmographies. On the second side of the DVD, the interactive menus offer a question and answer session with director Scott Hicks, a theatrical trailer and Geoffrey Rush’s acceptance speech from the Golden Globe Awards.

SHINE is an important film that should be seen. The bargain price of this Special Edition makes the DVD highly collectable.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1997 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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