Pizzello, Chris. DVD playback. American Cinematographer 81 Sep (2000): 22+ [2p].
Document Type: REVIEW
“DVD Playback” is a departmental section that appears in each month’s edition of American Cinematographer. In this section, the journal editor provides a technical review of two or three recently released DVDs and discusses the special features included on the discs. In September of 2000, editor Chris Pizzello reviewed Fight Club and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid for that issue’s “DVD Playback” segment.
According to Pizzello, the re-released, DVD version of Butch Cassidy had a lot to offer both old and new fans. The DVD sported a 2.35:1 aspect viewing ratio, Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono sound and a cost of $29.98. As Pizzello writes, despite the “snooty critical reaction” Butch Cassidy originally received upon its theatrical release in 1969, it made a “profound connection with audiences.” From its debut, Butch Cassidy went on to serve as a “blueprint for subsequent buddy action flicks” popular in the 1970’s and beyond.
Pizzello’s main pitch for why his readers should buy the DVD, even if they already owned the film on VHS, was based largely around the interesting supplementary commentaries and documentaries included on the discs. On top of the “effortless chemistry” between stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford, the makers of Butch Cassidy were a “powerful team” as well, with William Goldman writing the screenplay, George Hill directing, and Conrad Hall (an Oscar winning cinematographer) working the camera. The great benefit to purchasing the DVD is that viewers would be granted an inside look into how these filmmaking powerhouses crafted this Western classic.
Watching the film with commentary by Hall provides the viewer with some overarching insights about the film’s relevance to today’s society. Hall comments that the film touches its audiences now as much as ever “because it’s about people’s jobs in jeopardy [due to] technological advancement…a basic, timeless human condition bigger than all of us.” Hall also remarks that viewing the film on the DVD’s 2.35:1 preserves the artistic composition he had intended for the feature while shooting. On top of Hall’s commentary, the DVD includes a documentary on how the film was made shot during the original production. This documentary includes practical information laced with a great set of stories ranging from Hall’s romance with star Katherine Ross to Hill cracking up his co-workers with jokes on the set. The chapter selection option, rarely seen for bonus features, is a nice touch to the DVD as well.
According to Pizzello, the DVD release of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a must have for any big fan of the film. Based on his review, I would have to agree, assuming the price has dropped since release in 2000.