The Osterman Weekend

The Osterman Weekend (1983)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: John Hurt, Rutger Hauer, Dennis Hopper, Craig T. Nelson, Burt Lancaster
Extras: Commentary Track, Documentary, First Cut, Trailer, Gallery, Biographies

’Bloody Sam’ Peckinpah’s final film is now available on DVD, courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment. Having spared no expense, the studio has created a commemorative 2-disc edition for the film for all its fans, which is quite interesting, as ’The Osterman Weekend’ is not exactly one of the highlights that marks Peckinpah’s career. As a matter of fact, the film is a mediocre thriller that has its ups but also its downs. Most importantly, the story is disheveled and the characters a bit pointless throughout. While featuring a great cast that includes John Hurt, Rutger Hauer, Dennis Hopper, Craig T. Nelson, and Burt Lancaster among others, the movie always feels as if everyone is tapping in the dark, not quite sure what to make of the material. Peckinpah’s determined direction is missing and as a result ’The Osterman Weekend’ is an entertaining thriller without lasting or memorably highlights.

The transfer the Anchor Bay is serving up here is once again marvelous. Remastered using their Divimax process, the image is extremely clear and free of defects. The color palette clearly dates the movie but the level of detail in the image and the consistency of the colors is wonderful. Shadow definition is very good, creating deep blacks that never break up. Flesh tones are naturally rendered, as are the image’s highlights. No edge-enhancement is visible and the compression s without a flaw.

The film has also seen an audio remastering and comes as 5.1 Dolby Digital EX and a 6.1 channel DTS audio track. The film is very restrained in the use of surrounds however and the material never lends itself to a showcase presentations. Nonetheless, surround channels are engaged nicely and frequently with subtle effect. The frequency response is good, but occasionally the original elements still sound harsh and limited, most notably certain dialogue bits.

A commentary track by Peckinpah historians is included on the DVD giving viewers a bigger picture of this acclaimed director, his body or work and some of the intricacies of this particular film. It is a bit scholarly in tone, but full of information as a result.

The second disc of the set contains a brand new 78-minute retrospective documentary on the film. It is full of archive footage, photos and brand new interviews with cast and crew members. It certainly offers a good look at the film, the way it was produced and shines some more light on Sam Peckinpah the filmmaker.

Peckinpah’s original first cut of the movie is also included on this DVD. Intertitled with some remarks, the film runs about 13 minutes longer and is presented as a work-print, full of speckles, of course.

The release is rounded out by the film’s trailers, a still gallery and biographies for the principal cast and crew members.

While ’The Osterman Weekend’ may not be Peckinpah’s best film, it is nonetheless enjoyable, especially on such a beautiful and lovingly put-together DVD. Based on a Robert Lludlum novel, it may just be the right film when you feel like seeing a classic thriller.