Chinatown (1974) - Special Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Mystery / Thriller
Paramount || R - 131 minutes - $14.99 || November 6, 2007
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-11-26


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Roman Polanski
Writer(s): Robert Towne (written by)
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunaway, John Huston, Perry Lopez, John Hillerman, Darrell Zerling, Diane Ladd


Theatrical Release Date: June 20, 1974


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Chinatown: The Beginning and the End
  • Chinatown: Filming
  • Chinatown: The Legacy
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital Mono), French, (Dolby Digital Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital Mono), Portuguese (Dolby Digital Mono)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Note: Images not from DVD source.

By now, most people have seen (or at least heard of) the classic film Chinatown. Though the film is now almost 35 year old, it still has held up as one of the best films of all time. It is also the role that launched Jack Nicholson into superstardom and later became one of the most memorable characters in the history of film. Director Roman Polanski was already regarded as one of the best filmmakers of his time and this film solidified those thoughts. Screenwriter Robert Towne also made a name for himself because of the success the film had.

Chinatown is a very unique story that takes on the shape of a film noir. You have the reluctant hero in Jake Gittes, the femme fatale in Evelyn Mulwray and numerous other double crossing characters. I think what makes the film so memorable is the way the film unravels over the course of its 130 minute running time. I still believe that the screenplay is one of the best written and well executed screenplays in the last 40 years of Hollywood filmmaking. Veteran screenwriters today still use Robert Towne's script as a blueprint to writing the best script possible.

I would most certainly say that Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential is the only film in recent memory to capture the essence of a film noir as well as Chinatown has. In my opinion, L.A. Confidential is a better film with a better script but there is no question that Chinatown had a huge influence on the style and overall feel of L.A. Confidential. I see no real reason why Chinatown (along with L.A. Confidential) still won't be regarded as one of best films of all time 30 years from now.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Chinatown: The Beginning and the End is a 19 minute look at the genesis of how the film came about. Included are new interviews with Jack Nicholson, Roman Polanski and Robert Towne. Also included are excerpts from Robert Evans' interview on the original 1999 DVD release for the film.

Chinatown: Filming is a 25 minute look at the overall experience of Nicholson, Polanski and Towne during the filming of Chinatown. Polanski discusses some of his disputes with Faye Dunaway and Jack Nicholson. Polanski also talks about why he decided to take a small but memorable role in the film.

The final extra is Chinatown: The Legacy. This featurette runs about 10 minutes and as the title suggests, it focuses the legacy of the film nearly 35 years later. Topics such as the last minute scoring of the film as well as how the film only managed to win 1 out of the 11 Oscars it was nominated for are discussed.

The DVD also include a theatrical trailer.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Both the video and audio transfers a much improved over the 1999 DVD release. The DVD producers did a fine job in cleaning up the picture and creating a sharper image. The film is presented in a widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TV's. The audio specs are Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and Mono. Mono tracks in French, Spanish, and Portuguese are also available.



.::OVERALL::.

While the extras are not as plentiful as one would hope for a film this good, the DVD producers still do a fine job of improving over the 1999 release. Though many of the interviews and stories talked about on this DVD are repeated over from the 1999 interviews, the featurettes are still worth watching. Perhaps the addition of a commentary would have made the DVD package even better. Still, fans of the film should trade in their 1999 DVD for this updated edition of the classic film.