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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
The Long Walk Home (1990)

"When this is over, Mrs. Thompson, people are going to say that you were a big part of this."
- Odessa Cotter (Whoopi Goldberg)

Review By: Kevin Clemons   
Published: April 10, 2003

Stars: Sally Field, Whoopi Goldberg
Other Stars: Ving Rhames, Dwight Schultz, Dylan Baker
Director: Richard Pearce

Manufacturer: WAMO
MPAA Rating: PG for mild language
Run Time: 01h:32m:41s
Release Date: December 17, 2002
UPC: 012236133841
Genre: drama

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ AC+C+ D-

DVD Review

The Long Walk Home tells the story of prejudice and perseverance in the South at the time of the Alabama bus boycott. It is a film not with overblown scenes of prejudice and racism, but with numerous smaller and more touching scenes of two women breaking against the racism that surround their lives. The film wisely shows that the strains were felt by all those wishing to stand up against the injustices.

Miriam Thompson (Spacek) is a perfectly content housewife in the Deep South in 1955. Her husband Norman (Schultz) is a powerful man in the community who also happens to be overly bigoted. Their housekeeper is Odessa Cotter (Goldberg), a black woman who dutifully takes the bus to work each day and does her job serving the Thompson's. One day, Rosa Parks makes her landmark stand against racism and prompts a bus boycott. Knowing what Rosa Parks was going through, Odessa begins to walk to the Thompson house, even if it means getting up several hours early and developing health problems in her feet and legs. Seeing that Odessa is walking to work everyday, Miriam offers a ride to Odessa without the Norman's knowledge. What follows is a friendship that forges a bond that will last forever, as well as a discovery in Miriam of which her husband does not approve.

It would be easy for The Long Walk Home to fall into melodramatic trappings, but the script by John Cork wisely allows the story to largely be told from the personal perspectives of both Miriam and Odessa. The slow pace of the film does well to help us understand the emotions of the characters. We see the strain of a tough marriage in Miriam's eyes and we see it change when she begins to take a moral stand against the racist oppressors. I also liked the way in which the bigoted townspeople are not overblown caricatures. It is clear that their positions and beliefs are wrong, but they are not made to be villains. Instead, they are simply misguided individuals who come to see that their beliefs are unjust.

The performances are uniformly, and expectedly, terrific. Spacek gives an understated piece of work; her scenes with Goldberg have a restrained and believable quality. You can see that she is a strong individual and her emotions are perfectly portrayed. Goldberg is every bit the equal of Spacek as she offers a much showier performance, but her work is grounded as well. Look for fine supporting turns from Ving Rhames and Dylan Baker as opposing protagonists.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Presented in a full-frame transfer The Long Walk Home is simply a poor transfer. Colors bleed and are muted while the image has a haze throughout. Sharpness and detail are poor given the haze, while there are a few moments where edge enhancement is noticeable. This is simply a bad transfer for a very good film.

Image Transfer Grade: C+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Surround track is not as lively as other releases, but it gets the job done. Dialogue is the main star and it sounds crisp with nice definition and very few to no dropouts. The remaining speakers provide little support aside from the musical score.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: No extra features are provided. There are however 18 chapter stops available for selection.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

I would have liked to have seen more historical extra features on this DVD for The Long Walk Home, as the film itself deserves to be shown as part of a history lesson for children about this ugly time in American history. Nonetheless, it is a film worth seeing.


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