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Paramount Home Video presents

Flashdance Special Collector's Edition (1983)

"Don't you understand? When you give up your dream,you die."- Nick Hurley (Michael Nouri)

Stars: Jennifer Beals, Michael Nouri, Belinda Bauer, Lilia Skala
Other Stars: Sunny Johnson, Kyle T. Heffner, Robert Wuhl
Director: Adrian Lyne

MPAA Rating: R for (language, nudity, sensuality)
Run Time: 01h:34m:36s
Release Date: 2007-09-18
Genre: drama

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Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B C-AB+ B-

 

DVD Review

With the benefit of hindsight, one has to admit that all the danger signs were present: a screenplay by Joe Eszterhas and a producer credit for Jerry Bruckheimer. Yes, it's the picture that asks the age-old question, "Can a young woman who welds in a steel mill by day and does exotic dancing by night find happiness in the world of professional dance?" Oh, that wasn't an age-old question? Well, that's too bad because here's the answer.

18-year-old Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) is all of the above, welding and dancing in a strip joint where the women never actually take off their clothes. Oddly enough, the seats are nonetheless occupied. She has long dreamed of dancing in the legitimate ballet, epitomized for her by the Pittsburgh Conservatory of Dance, encouraged by her friend, aged dancer Hanna Long (Lilia Szabo). She's also in love with the owner of the steel mill, Nick Hurley (Michael Nouri) as she struggles to realize her dream, but on her own terms, refusing to accept his assistance in getting an audition at the Conservatory.

The screenplay is fairly clumsy, with stilted dialogue that seldom rises above trivialities and platitudes. Alex's struggles are paralleled in obvious ways by her friend Jeanie (Sunny Johnson), whose attempts to make a career of skating are wrecked by some ill-timed falls, and would-be comic Richie (Kyle T. Heffner), who talks about going to LA but feels trapped in his job as a cook at the strip joint. One telling cut provides a glimpse of the attitude here, as the camera jumps from Alex doing her routine to a burger on the griddle; as in so many Eszterhas-written pictures, the women are more or less meat on the hoof. On the positive side, the script does have some affirming things to say about taking action to advance one's dreams and not just talking about them.

Beals, in her career-making (if not defining) role, does a fairly creditable job with the material, though she is seldom called upon to do anything beyond look adorable. That, she is certainly capable of. Nouri is passable as the love interest, with a few good moments of frustration at Alex's pigheadedness. The rest of the supporting cast is mostly nondescript, though Philip Bruns as Jeanie's father comes the closest to turning in a well-rounded performance, ranging from gruff disgust to sincere but awkward affection for his daughter.

The film does boast a smorgasbord of early 1980s dance music, should that be of interest. The dancing is well-executed, though some of the club scenes are so strobe-light-infested that they're hard to watch. Otherwise, this is mostly eye candy, best appreciated by those with a fetish for the torn sweatshirts and/or leg warmers that the film made hugely popular in a now mostly forgotten fad.

2007 Update:

After a hiatus of five years, I come back to this picture with a more charitable point of view. The story is just as inane as ever, but I have a better appreciation for Lyne's visuals. He's a bit overfond of smoke, but darned if he doesn't make it look gorgeous time after time. The dance sequences are a bit overchoreographed but they're certainly vibrant, with the final audition sequence being downright spectacular. It's goofy, but it's fun and it's pretty, and I'm not sure that it demands much more than that.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Even though the original 2002 release looked pretty good back in the day, this new disc is a substantial improvement. A good deal of dirt, crud, and even stray hairs have been cleaned up. The modest edge enhancement has been eliminated as well, and the aliasing I found problematic in the earlier version during the church sequence is no longer an issue. This picture is rather grainy, and the original version had a fair amount of sparkle. While the grain structure is still evident, it's no longer distractingly sparkly and looks more like film. That's important in a movie that depends so heavily on backlighting, smoke, and fog for it's imagery. Well done.

Image Transfer Grade: A
 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoPortugueseyes
DS 2.0French, Spanishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: It's not entirely clear to me that the audio has been given a similar workover, though the pop songs seem a shade less bright than on the previous disc. As was the case before, the lower midrange seems lacking on the disco tunes while the classical music comes across splendidly. The snippet of Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun in particular just erupts in lush gorgeousness. Both the old and the new were plenty clean, so there are no complaints there.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+ 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dreamgirls
1 TV Spots/Teasers
5 Featurette(s)
Packaging: unknown double keepcase
Picture Disc
2 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extra Extras:
  1. Six-Song Soundtrack CD
Extras Review: The principal reason to upgrade here is the selection of bonus materials, starting off with a set of five featurettes totalling nearly 45 minutes, assembled by dependable producer Laurent Bouzereau, covering the making of the film, the look of it (including the torn sweatshirts and, yes, the leg warmers), the music, the choreography, and the phenomenon upon the picture's release. Many of the principals are here, including Lyne, Bruckheimer, and Nouri, though Beals unaccountably couldn't be bothered to chat for a few minutes about the movie that made her career. The trailer and teaser, both in anamorphic widescreen, are here, and quite welcome. Finally, there's a six-song CD that includes Flashdance...What a Feeling and Maniac, among other songs made popular by the movie. The absence of Beals limits the impact of the bonus materials, but they're pretty solid nevertheless.

Extras Grade: B-
 

Final Comments

The silly piece of '80s nostalgia is revisited with some extra materials, so fans will certainly want to upgrade the old barebones edition, and then there are the substantially improved visuals. But still, no legwarmers provided? I am disappointed indeed.

Mark Zimmer 2007-09-17