The Eastwood Factor: Extended Edition
Directed By: Richard Schickel
Narrated by: Morgan Freeman
Studio: Warner Bros.
Film Length: 88 minutes
Aspect Ratio: variable
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date: June 1, 2010
The Film ***
Critic and film scholar Richard Schickel's The Eastwood Factor traces a portrait of actor/director Clint Eastwood's long and distinguished career with a particular focus on his work at Warner Brothers from the mid 1970s until the present day. An abbreviated 23 minute version of this documentary narrated by its director was previously released as a special feature on the 35 Years 35 Films DVD collection and the Invictus Blu-ray disc, but this standalone "Extended Version" is 65 minutes longer and features narration from Morgan Freeman.
Eastwood is followed by cameras and interviewed at various locations around the Warner lot where his Malpaso production company is headquartered. The rest of the presentation consists of archival photos, film footage, and clips from his movies. His early career is covered briefly, touching on his TV work, his surprise breakout success in the three "spaghetti westerns" he made with Sergio Leone in the 1960s, and his iconic performance as Dirty Harry. After covering the five Dirty Harry films, the documentary circles back to his mid-1970s arrival at Warner Brothers.
Starting with his "Warner Residency", the film slows down a bit to go into more detail on select pieces of his filmography from the ensuing decades, focusing primarily but not exclusively on his output as a director. It is not always clear why some films get the detailed overview treatment while others are ignored or glossed over, but Schickel does make a point of touching on the majority of Eastwood's most critically well-received films such as The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, Mystic River, and Million Dollar Baby.
Occasional behind the scenes detours are inserted between the film discussions and clips. These include Eastwood visiting with longtime Costume Designer Deborah Hopper at the surprising backlot location where the costumes from many of his films are kept in storage and a visit to the "Eastwood Scoring Stage" named after him when he prevented it from being decommissioned.
All in all, the documentary is a mildly interesting overview of some of Eastwood's career highlights, with some rare behind the scenes glimpses into Eastwood's work environment at his Warner Brothers "home". Even expanded by over an hour, it does not come close to being a comprehensive overview of his massive body of work, and in that sense feels almost as much like a tease for Schickel's more thourough book on the subject as the previous 23 minute version of the documentary felt like a tease for this "Extended Edition"
The Video *½
The video presentation is in a 4:3 aspect ratio with lots of letterboxing applied. All of the newly shot material of Eastwood on the Warner backlot is presented in a letterboxed 16:9 format. The copious film clips are presented in a seemingly random hodgepodge of original aspect ratios and 4:3 panned and scanned video. I had to manually force my DVD player into "Video" mode to prevent aliasing from occuring, so it appears that there may be an error in the MPEG encoding.
The Audio ***½
The only audio option is an English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The mix remains strongly rooted in the front channels, although I did notice some surround activity during a few of the film clips. The mix is not particularly ambitious, but is entirely appropriate for the material and presented with excellent fidelity.
The Extras ½
No special features are included on the disc.
The disc is enclosed in a standard DVD case with no inserts.
The Eastwood Factor: Extended Edition improves upon the 23 minute abbreviated version previously issued as a DVD or Blu-ray extra, but still comes up far short of being a comprehensive overview of his career, or even the last 35 years of his career spent at Warner Brothers studio. Die hard fans may enjoy the exclusive footage of Eastwood being interviewed at and around his studio home, but casual fans will get only a superficial overview of some of his significant work. It is presented in 4:3 video letterboxed to various aspect ratios with some encoding issues that resulted in aliasing artifacts until I forced my player into "video" mode.