Not Without My Daughter

Not Without My Daughter (1990)
MGM Home Entertainment
Cast: Sally Field, Alfred Molina
Extras: Featurette, Theatrical Trailer

the light of the current events, Brian Gilbert’s drama ’Not Without My Daughter’ takes on an even darker note as we get a glimpse into the culture and values of the Middle East, namely Iran in this case. It is the real life story of Betty Mahmoody, based on her own novel, and one of the most gripping personal dramas ever put on film.

Betty (Sally Field) is married to Moody (Alfred Molina), a well-respected doctor and an Iranian immigrant. They visit his homeland with their daughter Mahtob but before she realizes what is going on Moody decides to stay in Iran to help his people. He has no plans to take his family back to America, although he would allow Betty to leave – without their daughter. What follows is Betty’s intense struggle with the Iranian culture, the oppressive violence of her increasingly abusive husband and the police state that supports his actions. Betty tries to find a way to escape the country, but Moody seems to have eyes and ears everywhere. Still, lost in a foreign land, unable to speak the language, Betty won’t give up and is decided to leave Iran. But not without her daughter.

MGM Home Entertainment is presenting us an anamorphic widescreen version of the movie on this DVD in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is generally good looking, although not spectacularly so. The print shows signs of dirt and speckles, and the image has a fairly soft quality. Nonetheless it is a well-defined presentation with good detail, much of which can be attributed to the increased resolution of this 16×9 transfer, and strong colors throughout. Whether it’s the earthen tones of Iran’s landscape and cities, or the colorful clothing, the image is always stable and faithfully restores the look of the original movie. No serious edge-enhancement has been applied to the transfer, giving it a balanced look. However, compression artifacts in the form of pixelation are evident throughout the movie and can become noticeable especially during some of the grainier shots.

The DVD contains a Dolby Stereo audio track that serves its purpose well enough. It is an unrestored track with a limited frequency response and dynamic range, but it still makes for an enjoyable viewing. Dialogues are well-integrated and always understandable, never drowned out by the sound effects or the music.

The DVD also contains a ’Making Of’ featurette – which his actually a misnomer, as it is a promotional featurette that does not reveal anything about the making of the film. To round out the release, MGM has also included the movie’s theatrical trailer.

While it is certainly a welcome DVD addition, ’Not Without My Daughter’ would have deserved ma much better fate, so much is clear. Since the story of Betty Mahmoody is over 15 years old, some updated information about her, her life and her daughter Mahtob would have been a great addition. Did Moody ever try to get his daughter back? Were there any attempts on his behalf to reconcile? All this could have been covered in a new documentary or a commentary track on this DVD. Too bad that as it stands, it is only a marginal improvement over previous releases.