84 Charing Cross Road

84 Charing Cross Road (1986)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft
Extras: Bonus Trailers

Based on Helene Hanff’s novel of the same name, retelling parts of her own life, ’84 Charing Cross Road’ is a heartfelt story about two people from different ends of the world, finding a passion they share – books. Helene (Anne Bancroft) is a New York writer with a knack for old, used books. She sends a letter to a small British bookstore inquiring about some rare classics. Frank Doel (Anthony Hopkins) answers her letter, and thus begins a correspondence that spans two continents and two decades.

The film beautifully captures the culture clash as the feisty New Yorker contrasts the dry and restrained Britishman’s demeanors, and shows us that beneath the surface, we all have things in common. As they share their thoughts, dreams and lives with each other, they too realize that their friendship is something very extraordinary.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment presents ’84 Charing Cross Road’ in a fullscreen presentation on this DVD. I have not been able to confirm the movie’s original aspect ratio, but it appears to me as if this is actually the movie’s original aspect ratio. It certainly never appears to be cropped and if anything, it may be an open-matter transfer. The transfer is very clean and shows no signs of defects or speckles. There is an almost constant sheen of light grain visible however, which his a result of the stock material used to shoot the movie. It is never distracting but reminds us that movie’s are actually shot on film, which has some implicit limitations.
The colors are beautifully rendered, giving the film a very natural look and especially the light drab pastel colors are reproduced nicely. Contrast is very good, making sure the fairly dark interiors of the bookstore are coming across nicely without losing detail or definition. However, the entire movie appears to be a bit dark. Edge-enhancement is not evident and thus the transfer is free of ringing artifacts, as well as any other distracting compression artifacts.

The DVD contains a Dolby Stereo audio track that is well produced. Unspectacular in its features it serves the film very well and has a natural and unobtrusive quality throughout. Subtitles in a variety of languages round out this release, even more so as the only extra found on this disc is a selection of two bonus trailers.

’84 Charing Cross Road’ is a quaint little movie, based on a real-life story that is touching and refreshing to watch. Director David Jones did a wonderful job to capture the quiet and gradually developing friendship and the emotions involved in a beautiful pictures. The DVD may be a bit slim on the extras, but it is certainly a fine opportunity to watch this film on.