Around The World In 80 Days AKA Around The World In Eighty Days
R4 - Australia - Warner Home Video
Review written by and copyright: Sam Scott (12th January 2005).
The Film

There have been plenty of adaptations based on various Jules Verne stories, but none have had quite the appeal as this 1956 adaptation of the classic Around The World In 80 Days. Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, and winner of 5, including Best Picture, Around The World In 80 Days tells the story of Phileas Fogg (played by David Niven), who bets all of his money with other members of the Gentlemen's Club he frequents, that he can travel all the way around the world in, well, 80 days (the title says it all really). Along for the ride with him, is Passepartout, his French butler, who isn't the brightest bulb in the box, making way for some funny moments. The acting is delightful (yet out of the 8 nominated categories for Academy Awards, not one of them was for this), and there are plenty of cameos. There are a few things I dislike about the film however, with the most annoying, being the pacing. It moves at a snail's pace, occasionally making the film feel like a visual escapade, rather than trying to tell a story. The dialogue is really just a big long travelogue and again, makes for some long boring moments. Another thing is, for fans of the book, Passepartout plays an important part being helpful, but in this film, he seems to be there for comic relief more than anything. All in all, it is a good film which has it's priorities all wrong.

Video

Being as visually compelling as the film is, we'd hope for an absolutely sterling transfer. Unfortunately, however, we have been given the opposite. The print is a disappointing one with a noticeable amount of grain and other such blemishes. It isn't a particular sharp print either and suffers some minor edge enhancement. Thankfully, it IS in the original aspect ratio of 2.20:1 and is anamorphic.

Audio

This film features 2 soundtracks. I listened to the English dolby digital 5.1 track (with the other option being a French dolby digital 2.0 stereo track) and was left disappointed again. The levels (of the dialogue in particular) go from soft and quiet, to reasonably loud and incoherant. Also, Warner Brothers seem to have forgotton to include the original mono soundtrack, which, when the film is an SE, and still has plenty of space on the first disc, is unforgiveable.
Additionally the disc also includes optional subtitles in Arabic, Dutch, English, French and Romanian.

Extras

This is where Warner Brothers have started to make up for the poor transfer and sound. This 2 disc set contains excellent extra features.

Disc 1

Introduction By TCM's Robert Osborne
Robert Osborne gives us a wonderful introduction to the film (as well as most of the extras aswell). Although not the most colourful of characters, Mr. Osborne goes into depth with his information and he apears to know his stuff.

Audio Commentary With Brian Sibley
Brian Sibley (who's actually a radio presenter for the BBC) gives an audio commentary so informative, you'd have to listen 4-5 times just so you got all the information he endlessly reels out. Again, a bit of a boring and monotonous tone was used, but you could tell he had already collated all the info he was using. I like it when this is done if it's a single person commentary or a technical commentary, as it relieves us of long silences which sometimes causes people to turn off and miss out some other informative stuff.

Disc 2

Around The World With Mike Todd
1968 documentary, narrated by Orson Welles. Informative up to a point, but it's the usual backslapping affair, with everyone praising everyone. Come on people, we want to know who fell out with who, who was the outcast and who showed up on set drugged up to their eyeballs. If you're gonna get the cast and ask what it was like filming with other cast members, we want some backstabbing and some slagging off for crying out loud. Obviously, we want some important technical information aswell, and the thing this documentary really misses out on, is the filming of all the different landmarks. Could've been very interesting stuff, but there was something in this documentary that bored me a bit.

L.A. Premiere Footage
Silent, with a musical score, this short piece shows us the stars arriving on the red carpet. A nice little extra.

Academy Awards Highlights
A two minute clip from AFTER one of the awards was won. Would've preferred footage of the awards ceremony itself, but again, this is a decent little extra to have included.

Spain Greets A Lovely Envoy
Footage of a promotional footage to Spain. OK, but not very informative. It would've been nice to have some information about the advertising campaign rather than 2 minutes of Taylor and Todd talking.

Outtakes
Footage not used for the film, with a musical overture playing. No dialogue for these scenes so I looked on with interest trying to decipher what was going on. It would've been nice to have a page of text notes to explain to us.

Michael Todd's Almanac
Put the DVD into your PC and you are treated to this little treasure, which includes cast and crew profiles, a synopsis of the film and a photo gallery amongst other things.

Stills Gallery
Just your normal photos from the set.

Trailers
The original trailer and the re-release trailer from 1983 are both included on the disc.

Packaging

Although the package states that it is a region 4 encoded disc, this DVD is actually encoded for regions 2, 4 and 5.

Overall

The Film: C Video: C Audio: C Extras: B Overall: C

 


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