Gregory's Girl (UK - BD RB)
Marcus goes back to school and gets put in as team goalie because of a girl
Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair) is a gawky schoolboy living in a small Scottish town. He loves playing football but with the arrival of girl footballer, Dorothy (Dee Hepburn), Gregory falls in love with his new team mate, even though she replaces him in the football team. Demoted to goalie, Gregory still befriends Dorothy and sets about trying to ask her out.
I watched Gregory’s Girl in an English class when I was at school. I don’t what know year I was in, I don’t know why we watched it, but it was in school when I first saw the film. I assume it was to highlight writing, or storytelling, or maybe to highlight equality or something as there was a female footballer in it (shock horror – especially in the 80s / early 90s). It could just have been a substitute teacher’s way of keeping us quiet but either way, the TV rolled in one afternoon, with the chunky top loading VHS underneath it, the teacher struggled to find the right channel and get the volume right and once that was sorted and the blinds were shut we watched this little Scottish movie.
Because this was my first meeting with Gregory’s Girl, I always assumed it was a film made specifically for schools to show or something as opposed to a legitimate film. It wasn't until I was older and working in a record store that I realised it had its own life and success outside of the School system and it wasn't until now I've sat down and re-visted the film in its entirety.
I found I had the same feelings now as I did on the film then. It’s a cute, harmless little tale of young love and it’s full of charm. The fact I remembered all of the beats all these years later, despite only ever seeing snippets on clip shows since my first viewing speaks volumes about how much attention I must have paid in class and given the amount of forgettable dross we used to watch in school, I guess that makes Gregory’s Girl a somewhat memorable film that’s obviously stuck with me.
Anyway, personal history aside, Gregory’s Girl is one of those British delights. It’s extremely Scottish and isn’t ashamed of the fact at all. Characters are depicted quite truthfully and while it’s easy to write off Gregory as a nerd or geek, he’s actually quite the depiction of a normal school kid of the era as far as I’m concerned. Bumbling about, enjoying himself and falling in love with the girls that catch his eye. The female footballer element is handled very well. It’s obviously an issue with some of the characters in the film but its not the point of the film or anything as obvious as that. It’s more a spark to a fuse to set off other more meaningful events in the film and it makes for a much more realistic tale (even though a girl finding it that easy to get into a school football team in the early 80s seems massively unlikely).
As I said, I watched this in school, on VHS in a classroom, so to say I was staggered by just how good this Blu-ray looked has to be taken with that in mind. Other than the opening credits sequence with looks faded and as ropey as I expected, the whole disc is easily the best the film must have ever looked.
There's no dirt, colours are gloriously natural, texture and detail is spot on and while it's not mesmerising there's a good bit of sharpness and depth to the image at times especially in the film's many exterior scenes. There's the odd bit of blasted out detail in direct sunlight and some of the paler scenes appear a tiny bit paler than intended but these are tiny moments really.
It's actually quite insane how clear of grain and dirt this presentation is. My brain was in a constant battle of disbelief that this tiny Scottish film from my youth has aged so well or has been treated so well on HD release. Every scene I expected it to revert back to my memory of that VHS viewing in my English class but nope, this is a minor miracle in terms of HD presentations and this cult classic (it seems too uncool to call Gregory's Girl that) should please it's fans enormously.
The original track is cleaned up but there's only so much that can be done with the raw natural sounding mono affair. Even with that taken into account, there's no hiss here, nothing is too muffled, well certainly not outside of the natural echo voices have in school hallways and while the track is small in scale it's a good example of the sound of the era of film.
Given the tiny budget of this Scottish drama, the track sounding as good as it does is quite impressive, even if by modern standards this will seem incredibly simplistic and hollow. There's not much more to be said about the small scale track but all the subtle improvements, such as little ambient touches being present and just being cleaner sounding all round makes this all about enough to be deemed impressive even if its on;y on the film's own terms.
The Audio Commentary with Bill Forsyth and Mark Kermode is more laid back than I expected. Kermode is usually a bit more focused on his commentary tracks but here he seems much more casual. That said he drives the track on enough to enable Forsyth to flesh out all of the behind the scenes stories as moments spark Kermode’s questioning and it makes for an insightful, if not a rather casual track.
'Bill Forsyth: The Early Years' (20:08 HD) has the director talking about his career and how he fell onto the world of film.
'Gregory's Girl Memories' (11:06 HD) is a chat with Clare Grogan as she recounts being asked to do the film while working as a waitress and a few small stories about the film's legacy.
The disc also comes with a US audio track, which thankfully isn't redubbed in American accents but instead is a clean, albeit disconnected feeling mix that sounds laid over the film rather than the raw natural sound the film has.
Gregory’s Girl is delightful and given the frankly shockingly good Blu-ray presentation (when taking the small scale cult classic nature of the film into account that is), this is the time to revisit the film. The extras are pretty great, even if they are rather short outside of the more in depth commentary track but fans should get a nostalgic kick (from a female footballer) out of this one.
Note: The above images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over
Release Date: 5th May 2014
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM 2.0 English,LPCM 2.0 English (American Dub)
Extras: Commentary, Interviews
Easter Egg: No
Director: Bill Forsyth
Cast: John Gordon-Sinclair, Dee Hepburn
Genre: Comedy, Drama and Romance
Length: 91 minutes
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