Reds (1981) - 25th Anniversary Edition

Genre(s): Biographical / Drama / Romance
Paramount || PG - 194 minutes - $19.99 || October 17, 2006
Reviewer: Chris Gonzalez || Posted On: 2006-11-02

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

.: 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 ::.
Director: Warren Beatty
Writer(s): Warren Beatty (screenplay) & Trevor Griffiths (screenplay)
Cast: Warren Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Edward Herrmann, Gene Hackman

Theatrical Release Date: December 4, 1981

Supplemental Material:
  • "Witness to Reds: The Rising"
  • "Witness to Reds: Comrades"
  • "Witness to Reds: Testimonials"
  • "Witness to Reds: The March"
  • "Witness to Reds: Revolution Parts 1 and 2"
  • "Witness to Reds: Propaganda"

Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (1.85)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby 1.0), French (Dolby 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

After being nominated for 12 Academy Awards and winning Best Director in 1982 I expected great things from Warren Beattyís ďmasterpieceĒ Reds. Itís longer than 3 hours, has an all star cast, an epic story to tell, yet somehow for this reviewer the film just didnít connect with me in the way I thought it should. This isnít to say itís not a ďgoodĒ film - by all rational standards, it is. The acting is great, the technical aspects are top notch for the time, and the scope is indeed grand.

With all those attributes, Reds just felt like a cold, distant film to me and while I was appreciating the film, I just couldnít warm up to it enough to find enjoyment in it, or even much interest. Itís the story John Reed, an American Communist, and his time spent being a vocal journalist in America and participating in the Russian Revolution. As all great epics, there is a love story thrown in for good measure, and it takes up the majority of the development in the first half. The characters are well rounded, Diane Keaton and Warren Beatty have great chemistry (they were a Hollywood item at the time), Jack Nicholson gives a surprisingly subdued, yet effective performance, and the incorporation of real interviews is well used.

In the end I canít really find an incredibly valid reason for not loving this film, and it pains me to feel this way. While I think Beatty had his goals set high and did the best he could in achieving them, Reds still falls short in making a lasting impression. Perhaps repeat viewings are required, but first impressions did not prove to astound me.


Witness to Reds - While this DVD only gives us one special feature, itís a great one. A documentary split up into seven parts that can be viewed together or as a whole goes into good detail of every part of the filmmaking process from early pre-production to the marketing. It contains plenty of interviews, behind the scenes goodies, and it brings a deeper appreciation for the film as a whole. But again, by other discs standards, itís not a complete knockout.


For a film made in the early 80ís this transfer looks fantastic. Itís sharp, clear, free of dirt and grain, just as a film of this size should be seen. Specific scenes that have sharply contrasting shadows and colors come across incredibly well. The film is spread across 2-discs which inevitably helped this transfer smooth itself out.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix here is pretty damn good, even if the sound effects and ambiance canít compare to an epic of todayís times. Dialogue is crisp, the score chimes in well, and the sound effects are well used. Just donít expect it to be reference material.