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DVD Review: MANSON



Studio: New Video
Year: 2009
Cast: Linda Kasabian, Catherine Share, Vincent Bugliosi, Deborah Tate, Adam Kenneth Wilson
Director: Neil Rawles
Release Date: September 29, 2009
Rating: Not Rated for (adult themes, violence)
Run Time: 01h:30m:03s
Genre(s): drama

“My relationship with my husband was…not there. I wasn’t a priority to him.” - Linda Kasabian

MANSON

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I've always been aware of the Manson Family murders, but I've never had a direct knowledge of the minute details behind them. I have a feeling, despite some assumedly awful acting during the dramatization portions of this film, I'll know a lot more once it's finished.

Movie Grade: C-

DVD Grade: C-

Everyone who hasn’t been living in a cave for the last 60 years (and even some who have) knows at least something about Charles Manson, the “Manson Family,” and their late-1960s killing spree, which included the murder of Sharon Tate, the actress and then-spouse of filmmaker Roman Polanski. I count myself among those who know a bit about the Manson Family, but I’ve always felt like I didn’t know the entire story. I also wasn’t sure what to expect from 2009’s Manson, at least as far as what its focus would be and how the material would be presented, as I’m not one to frequent History Channel original programming. I’m kind of glad I wasn’t prepared, because what we get here is a “drama-documentary” that consists of both interview footage with people directly involved in the Manson Family murders, and what’s essentially an extended reenactment of the proceedings as their told in the interviews.

The focus here (aside from Charles Manson, himself) is Linda Kasabian, one of the key members of the Manson Family who was the lookout and getaway driver during the Sharon Tate murders. This is the first time in 40 years that Kasabian, herself, has sat in front of a camera and told her story, which is a compelling-enough reason to give Manson a look. Other interviewees include Catherine Share, known in the “Family” as Gypsy, Vincent Bugliosi, the lead prosecutor in the infamous trial and writer of Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. Sharon Tate’s sister, Deborah is also interviewed, and her footage is arguably the most moving part of the piece. All of the interview portions of the film are both informative and moving, but every time the dramatization takes center stage things veer off the rails. The performances are just awful, with Adam Kenneth Wilson’s work as Charles Manson standing out as particularly amateur and annoying. The other actors don’t have as much to do as Wilson, but they are collectively pedestrian as well. I’m sure the History Channel has produced worse original material since Manson, but if they would just leave well-enough alone and stick to non-fiction, “real” interviews, their films might be more respectable.

New Video’s Manson DVD is as no-frills and bare bones as it gets, beginning with the non-anamorphic, 1.85:1 widescreen video presentation. The interview footage looks less impressive than the dramatization material, which benefits from crisper, more detailed, sharper images, and better color rendering. The entire film is nearly free from grain and dirt, with only a few print flaws showing up, making this an overall pleasant-looking transfer. The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is serviceable, yet unspectacular, keeping everything up front, including the always-decipherable dialogue. A total of zero extra features account for the disc’s bare bones classification.

Posted by: Chuck Aliaga - January 1, 2013, 3:24 pm - DVD Review
Keywords: murders, crazed, hippies




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