Hired Hand, The (UK - BD RB)
Marcus follows Peter Fonda into the wild west for a distinctly less wild western...
Having been at the forefront of America s here-and-now with Easy Rider and the counterculture movies of Roger Corman, Peter Fonda retreated to the past and the American West for his directorial debut, The Hired Hand.
Fonda plays Harry, a man who deserted his wife and child to explore the wide-open plains with his best friend Archie (Warren Oates). Tired of the life he decides to finally return home in order to rekindle his marriage and reacquaint himself with his daughter.
Scripted by Alan Sharp (Ulzana s Raid, Night Moves), shot by Vilmos Zsigmond (Blow Out, The Long Goodbye) and with a standout score by folk musician Bruce Langhorne, The Hired Hand is a beautiful, elegiac picture that ranks alongside The Outlaw Josey Wales and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid as one of the finest Westerns the seventies had to offer. [Taken from official synopsis]
The image here is aged due to its seventies production but with its colours and beautiful photography the image here has a wonderfully rich look with strong colour and a good bit of detail. There are some soft edges of course but this all adds to the film's style. There's a nice depth to the image and the exterior locations look natural and alive in the sunlight and the film has heightened but natural look throughout.
Some of the, again largely exterior sets really show off the strengths of the video presentation. dusty streets and creaky buildings show off every detail in the warm sun. Interior scenes lose a bit of detail and the softness creeps in a tad more on faces in wider shots but that is all clawed back in the close ups that can often look spectacular. Colours retain their strength and general detail in stronger lighting manages to hold its own too, making this presentation a enjoyable watch.
The audio track is small but full of life. Dialogue is clear and the sounds of the world around our characters are strong and fill the track up well. The sensitive and slow score gives the film a lazy mood at times but adds a grandness to this story as we trek through some of the wild open spaces on show. The instruments are all central but strong and very good at leading the story on even when the storytelling is at it's more casual.
The commentary with director,star and all round Hollywood legend Peter Fonda talks of his technical approach and his intentions within scenes and of the film in general. It's a thoughtful track with a lot of talk of what the elements represent and there's a real appreciation of the people Fonda worked with on his film.
'The Return Of The Hired Hand' (58:37 HD) is a 2003 documentary covering the film. Fonda and his cast and crew talk of the care taken to generate a real world western and this is a pure celebration of the project.
'The Odd Man (52:00 HD) is a 1978 documentary about three Scottish screenwriter s Edward Boyd, Gordon Williams and Hired Hand"s Alan Sharp
'Martin Scorsese On The Hired Hand' (02:01 HD) has the director talking of the history and effect of The Hired Hand and his restoration of it.
The Deleted Scenes feature six scenes including an alternative ending
'Warren Oats And Peter Fonda At The NFT' is an audio interview from a 1973 London Film Festival. it runs for a whopping 76 minutes and is well worth a listen.
Last up is the Stills Gallery, Trailers, TV Spots and Radio Spots
The Hired Hand is a slow story, told both relativity unconventionally with Fonda's metaphorical view of what everything represents as well as extremely conventionally given the smallness of the human approach to the story. It makes the film a pleasant watch but probably not one for those wanting more of a gun fighting Western. The film is beautiful to look at and really is only held back from shining to its age and slight softness to elements, otherwise its a fine restoration that thrives in HD thanks to its largely exterior settings and natural light. Audio is also limited but very well put together. As for the extras, there are plenty here to celebrate the film with, both in documentary, commentary and archival elements to give a full view of the film and its history.
* Note: The images below 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 15 years and over
Release Date: 21st November 2016
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English, English SDH
Extras: Commentary, Documentary, Intreviews, Trailers, TV Spots, Radio Spots
Easter Egg: No
Director: Peter Fonda
Cast: Warren Oates, Peter Fonda, Verna Bloom
Length: 91 minutes
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