07/07/2015  
Goodbye to All That on DVD Jul 14My Little Pony - Friendship Is Magic: Cutie Mark Quests on DVD Jun 30First Peoples on DVD Jul 7Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 on Digital Jun 30 & Blu-ray Combo Jul 14Tough Being Loved By Jerks on DVD Jun 9Turbo Fast: Season One on DVD June 2Inside the Court of Henry VIII on DVD Jun 16

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Watch the star-studded "Wet Hot American Summer" traile...
'Star Trek 3' Title Revealed by Director Justin Lin: Ta...
Mexico Won't Be Sending Anyone To Miss Universe Pageant...
Goodbye to All That on DVD Jul 14...
Cosby lawyer: Unsealing court docs 'terribly embarrassi...
Disney bans selfie sticks at all theme parks, including...
Jimmy Fallon hospitalized after hand injury...
Photos From New Episodes of "The X-Files"...
Apple's decision to pay artists a win for indies, Taylo...
My Little Pony - Friendship Is Magic: Cutie Mark Quests...



Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Paramount Studios presents
Testament (1983)

"I'm so afraid. Nothing seems real. Everything looks the same. Maybe if I write it, it will help."
- Carol Wetherly (Jane Alexander)

Review By: Jeff Rosado  
Published: December 07, 2004

Stars: Jane Alexander, William Devane, Ross Harris, Roxanne Zal, Lukas Haas, Rebecca De Mornay, Kevin Costner
Other Stars: Leon Ames, Lilia Skala, Phillip Anglim, Mako, Lurene Tuttle, Gerry Murillo, Mico Olmos, J. Brennan Smith, Clete Roberts
Director: Lynne Littman

MPAA Rating: PG for (potentially unsettling images, language, partial nudity)
Run Time: 01h:29m:31s
Release Date: December 07, 2004
UPC: 097360173949
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A- A+B+B+ B+

DVD Review

How many times has a scene moved you so much in the midst of a film that you had to pause it and go collect yourself before resuming?

Testament is one of those very few films capable of stirring such emotions. Originally conceived as a television project for PBS's American Playhouse, the end results were so stunning that Paramount bought the theatrical rights, making this 1983 project one of only a handful of made-for-TV movies to make such a leap; it went on to provide an excellent showcase for rising child actors Roxanne Zal (who would go on to star in Something About Amelia, another worthy telefilm) and Lukas Haas (Witness) as well as garnering a beyond justified Oscar nod for Jane Alexander.

As the film begins in a laid back California community, we're given access to the daily lives of the Wetherly family, an atypical American three-child household lorded over by Carol (Alexander) and Tom (William DeVanne). She's a playwright for the local school youngest son Scottie (Haas) attends; Tom's a businessman preparing for a trip to San Francisco.

A last minute phone call from Tom indicating he'll be home sooner rather than later sets up another relaxing evening at home. But while passing time watching Sesame Street, the signal goes to static, irritating older son Brad (Ross Harris) no end. But that lament is quickly forgotten when a local news anchor materializes on the screen advising viewers that the station has lost its network signal—and it's not just a case of "our technicians are working to clear up the problem"-type interruptions. Though sketchy, the U.S. appears to be under nuclear attack by unknown sources. Suddenly, another blast of static gives way to a stark, frightening emergency message graphic setting up a report from the White House. As Carol quickly but calmly reaches for the phone, a blast of extreme white light envelops the room.

Life would never be the same again.

With little or no information available from perhaps permanently silenced media outlets, residents gather at a nearby church where a mixture of reactions ranging from a local store owner's whinefest over a broken window to a proposal of martial law by local authorities are dispensed. Such complaints and petty disagreements are instantly rendered moot by the worries of a young mother who comments on her baby throwing up after being breastfed. It's an eerie indicator of things to come: people leaving town in the hopes of a less threatened existence, deaths begin to mount, and the re-establishing of daily routines are easily suggested but not easily accomplished.

Yet, in the midst of this chaos with a deluge of tears barely held back, Carol remains a study of control and grace; despite knowing of the sad, inevitable fate of her children, her forthright courage is an inspiration whether it be the calming of Scottie's fears of the unknown or expressing the joys of intimacy to a daughter that will never be able to experience it.

Beautifully adapted from Carol Amen's short story The Last Testament, Testament is not an easy watch, but for those putting aside their wariness over such alarming subject matter will experience a rush of emotions unlike any other film dealing with the horror of nuclear tactics. It's a given that you'll cry (Mother Wetherly singing My Little Nut-Tree to Scottie moved me to tears), but don't be surprised if you get angry as well—and I hope everyone seeing this film is motivated to urge government leaders and officials in every country of the world to use restraint. I swear, I became as outraged as Lionel Mandrake in Dr. Strangelove while witnessing the slow death of a once beautiful community at the hands of a man-made device that accomplishes nothing but mass murder.

Nothing but.

Editorializing aside, Testament achieves brilliance from everyone in front of and behind the lens: Lynne Littman's intimate direction, future China Beach scribe John Sacret Young's excellent scripting (Dana Delany's Colleen McMurphy from the latter series bears more than a passing emotional resemblance to Carol Wetherly), striking scoring from James Horner, Steven Poster's vivid photography, and, of course, a phenomenal cast headed by Alexander's beautifully understated yet emotional lead with great support from Haas, Zal, and Harris; screen vet Leon Ames in one of his final performances as the eternally optimistic senior citizen lording over his ham radio for any information available; Kevin Costner and Rebecca De Mornay as the young couple concerned over their baby's health; and Japanese character actor Mako as the loving father of a mentally challenged child.

One aspect of the film that I feel merits close attention is the refreshing lack of histronics that could have turned Testament into a disaster movie undistinguishable from the likes of The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno. What you can't and don't see is more frightening than what you do; it's a technique that the filmmakers of Testament carry to the hilt. There's no grotesque make-up, no major special effects to speak of, and the lingering aftermath of the attack is conveyed internally and emotionally rather than physically, which gives the movie an ethereal feeling... one you won't soon forget.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: A+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Shot on a very tight budget, Testament outshines its cost-cutting in this impressive transfer that captures the brownish hues and de-saturated look that conveys the heartbreak of such a tragedy. Black levels are good, anomalies are all but nonexistent, and well defined sharpness add up to one of Paramount's better mid-priced offerings.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Though Dolby Digital mono, the dialogue is never faulty; the balance between highs and lows is notable and James Horner's score has great clarity despite not being in stereo.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Testament at 20
  2. Timeline of the Nuclear Age
  3. Testament: Nuclear Thoughts
Extras Review: Since many of Paramount's mid-priced catalog titles are rarely filled with supplements, what a pleasant surprise to find that Testament is.

Testament at 20 is an enjoyable, touching, and informative look back at the film that commences with a touching reunion of the now-grown Wetherly kids and covers virtually every creative and technical aspect of the project, featuring many of the creative principals including a surprising appearance by Kevin Costner, who has never forgotten the powerful affect the film had on him. In that vein, some memorable stories from other actors second such emotions, including Alexander's support for anti-nuclear activism and Haas' fears that kicked in whenever a plane flew by on the California set (along with the reading of a touching, heartfelt letter his mother sent to then-President Ronald Reagan that described the concerns of a 5-year-old kid who didn't want life to imitate art).

Reactions is a more brief but no less affecting look at the film from today's younger generation, courtesy of a showing to a group of California schoolchildren whose candid and articulate reactions will touch your heart. Additional comments from Alexander and Costner expand their thoughts conveyed in the previous piece and an unforgettable interview with a survivor of Hiroshima brings home the horror of a post-nuclear afflicted country in dramatic fashion.

Timeline of the Nuclear Age is a credits-roll feature giving a chronological rundown of nuclear history set to James Horner's hauntingly beautiful score.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Though no one wants to believe that another 9/11 or potentially more disastrous occurrence of terrorist-inflicted madness will occur in our lifetime, Testament is a gripping, emotional reminder (despite being 20 years old) that such a moment is possible when you least expect it. Despite its subject matter, it's not only a "must-see" film, it's a must-own DVD with terrific supplements that are so richly deserved. Highest recommendation.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

television, netflix, wet hot american summer: first day of camp, michael showalter, david wain, elizabeth banks, michael ian black, bradley cooper, judah friedlander, janeane garofalo, joe lo truglio, ken marino, christopher meloni, marguerite moreau, zak orth, amy poehler, david hyde pierce, paul rudd, molly shannon, movie, sci-fy, star trek, justin lin, j.j. abrams, star trek beyond, zoe soldana, chris pine, celebrity, donald trump, republican presidential candidate, nbc, televisa, ora tv, lupita jones, carlos slim, larry king, drama, bill cosby, sex-assault lawsuit, associated press, george m. gowen iii, disneyland, disney california adventure, selfie sticks banned, california screaming, coachella, lollapalooza, jimmy fallon, tonight show, hand injury, x files, david duchovny, gillian anderson, fox, january 24, 2016, music, apple music, allen kovac, motley crue, taylor swift, elvis costello, calvin harris, animation, kids, the tonight show, colin ferrell, vince vaughn, true detective, hbo, nbc nightly news, brian williams, anchor, matt lauer, today, msnbc, lester holt, mark feldstein, inside out, pixar, mindy-disgust, amy poehler-joy, phyllis smith-sadness, fear-bill hader, anger-lewis black., nbc evening news, cnn, robert barnett, daytime soap oprah, general hospital, genie francis, anthony geary, foo fighters, cancellations, wembley stadium, murrayfield, dave grohl, sci-fi, adventure action, avengers: age of ultron, spectre, star wars, cbs, big brother, julie chen, wwe wrestler, professional poker player, a poker dealer, a dentist, and a few college students, documentary, mission: impossible - rogue nation, tom cruise, pixels, adam sandler, ted 2, mark wahlberg, terminator genisys, arnold schwarzenegger, doctor strange, chiwetel ejiofor, benedict cumberbatch, tilda swinton, nightly news, the today show, dateline nbc, duck dynasty, jep robertson, jessica, the good, the bad, and the grace of god: what honesty and pain taught us about faith, family, and forgiveness, good morning america, beyonce, marco gorges, comedy, bridge of spies, tom hanks, steven spielberg, matt carman, coen brothers, spy thriller, true events, mission:impossible rogue nation, christopher mcquarrie, kirk krack, rebecca ferguson, lifetime, deadly adoption, kristen wiig, will ferrell, fantastic beasts and where to find them, eddie redmayne. the theory of everything

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store