Shine DVD/ A, A

New Line/1996/105/ANA 1.85

     Shine is director Scott Hicks’ brilliant gift to film lovers. The scintillating story of damaged pianist David Helfgott, Hicks brings together a love of subject and intuitive cinematic magic to realize this celebration of film, art and life. Ten years from inspiration to completion, Shine is realized to perfection. Hicks not only chronicles Helfgott’s life, he makes a fascinating study of the pressure to perform, while examining family relationships with an extremely sharp lens.  
     Shine is so well crafted that it is difficult to detect the seam between acting skill and astounding direction. The principal roles are realized with extraordinary reality and emotion. Geoffrey Rush is dynamic as Helfgott. Rush’s rapid fireworks delivery mimics the speech patterns of the real Helfgott uncannily, but Rush’s performance is not simply an accumulation of copied quirks. Rush finds the core of this fantastic character and delivers lighting bolts of emotion to his audience. As good as Rush is, the power of his very forward performance is supported by the foundation of Noah Taylor’s interpretation of  adolescent Helfgott. Taylor suggests the emerging problems in subtle ways. Little bits of business remind relate perfectly to the older Helfgott. And Taylor has the bulk of work opposite Armin Mueller-Stahl who gives a magnificent performance as the tortured, unyielding Holocaust survivor Peter Helfgott. David’s father is a dark figure, cruel even, but Mueller-Stahl probes the depths of the man’s soul, wreaking punishment on the character. Nonagenarian Sir John Gielgud has some grand screen moments as Helfgott’s professor in London and Lynn Redgrave illuminates Shine with warmth and vivacity in the role of Gillian Helfgott. 
     The screenplay by Jan Sardi is literate and elegant, carefully choosing those moments in Helfgott’s life that altered its course. But the film finds its greatness it the editing room. Hicks has worked the images into a musical life all their own.  Shifting back and forth in time before moving to a linear conclusion works brilliantly with this material. Hicks makes all the right choices. The photography of Geoffrey Simpson is glorious. Careful lighting yields reveals subtleties of the director’s vision. Characters live in shadow with light sources offering hope at picture’s periphery. Take note of the beautiful Australian sunset when David visits Katharine Prichard. It is actually a night shoot with sunset created by Simpson lights. 
      The DVD is shattering in its delivery of detail and depth delivering everything the dazzling transfer offers.. The absence of video noise in DVD offers a significant advantage, especially in dark scenes. Using DVD S-Video Out you can readily  discern the advantage of DVD as a medium. Crisp color is fast becoming a hallmark of DVD.  Check out the image of the red boa draped around David’s neck after a night of innocent carousing. Color is tightly contained while not compromising the saturation.  In the library when David is feted for his piano accomplishments, all the range of warm  paneled woods and subtle interior lighting is captured perfectly by DVD .  When David enters the bar from the pouring rain the difficult blue cast to the lighting is rendered in spectacular fashion.  DVD creates an startling feeling of immediacy. Peruse the newspaper clippings in any one of several scenes. Razor sharp DVD images resolve the fine print. The Component Out on the DVD improves the picture over the S-Video with slight increase in detail and color accuracy. Watching the anamorphic transfer on DVD adds an order of magnitude to visual detail.  
       Shine offers superb appropriately exquisite sound. Piano, the dominent instrument in Shine, ranges naturally over its scales. The complex  power and delicacy of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto is intense. Two moments when bass attack is important, as Peter Helfgott pounds his fist on the chess board and when David collapses at the piano, are tight and focused. The surround mix is not aggressive, but ambient detail creates a proper sense of space. 
      A special feature on the DVD is a video Q & A with Scott Hicks. Though  not extensive,  it is a valuable supplement to enjoying the Shine experience.  However, Shine on  laser disc from Voyager with scene specific commentary provides the best platform for appreciating detail of a film and nuances of observation. A surprise DVD bonus is a video of Geoffrey Rush’s Golden Globe  acceptance speech for Best Actor, an enormously enjoyable segment after viewing the film. 
      Shine is another example of the DVD’s quality. It is especially  gratifying to have the flexibility of watching an anamorphic transfer. Bottom line: Shine is a magnificent DVD presentation. 






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