Has it really been nearly 20 years since Philadelphia was released? The film was released in December of 1993 at a time when ignorance and uncertainty about the AIDS epidemic were more prevalent than today. Philadelphia was released in the perfect moment for its subject matter, and the film still stands up well today since the human frailties of discrimination borne by fear are not limited to any specific era.
Distributed By: Twilight Time
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Run Time: 2 Hr. 6 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 05/14/2013
Andy Beckett (Tom Hanks) is a star associate at the most prominent law firm in Philadelphia. Andy finds himself without a job after his employers fire him, apparently for the fact that he has contracted AIDS. Andy looks to a colleague to help him in a lawsuit against his bosses, and Joe Miller (Denzel Washington) is probably the most unlikely candidate to represent Andy, given his personal beliefs and prejudices. The cast also includes Joanne Woodward, Jason Robards, and Antonio Banderas.
The Production Rating: 4.5/5
The Washington Post review at the time commented that Philadelphia is "like the best of Frank Capra," which is a great description of this film. Capra’s films included examples of both the best and the very worst of human nature, but always with an optimism that high values shall prevail. Philadelphia succeeds in presenting the best and worst of all of us in an entertaining (and perhaps educating) manner.
Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) directed Philadelphia with a screenplay by Ron Nyswaner (Mrs. Soffel). The story of Andy’s lawsuit against his bosses was inspired by the real-life hearings in the New York State Division of Human Rights, in which Geoffrey Bowers was terminated from his employment with a law firm after contracting AIDS. Ironically, Bowers’ family sued the producers of Philadelphia on the basis that the film was based on his life. The suit was settled out of court on confidential terms. The film credits state that the story was inspired by Geoffrey Bowers, and I cannot say whether this credit was originally in the theatrical release or inserted later as a term of settling the lawsuit.
Tom Hanks won the first of three consecutive Academy Awards for Best Actor for his performance in this film, and he may have been the perfect actor to play Andy, given his charisma and likability (a recent poll listed him as one of the most trustworthy actors for his personal reputation.) Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings) contributed the music score, which is included on this release with an optional isolated score track. Bruce Springsteen won the Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for performance of his composition, "Streets of Philadelphia."
The film is presented in 1080p in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio with the AVC codec. Colors are vibrant, and contrast is excellent in most scenes. Film grain is minimally present with excellent fine detail but poor shadow detail. Darkness and blacks are deliberately used often to establish mood in this film, and this transfer tends to the darker end of the spectrum much more than most other films.
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks have good directional audio. Most dialogue originates appropriately front and center for a dialogue driven film. The sound effects and musical score are used well to open the sound stage of the audio and for dramatic effect.
Audio Rating: 4/5
The special features include all of the following:
Special Features Rating: 4/5
Audio Commentary: Director Jonathan Demme and screenwriter Ron Nyswaner contribute a feature length commentary.
Isolated Score Track: The original score by Howard Shore and others is available as an audio option.
Deleted Scenes (11:18): These scenes are presented open matted in 480p.
Courthouse Protest Footage & Interviews (4:25): This newscast footage presented in 480p was created for the film.
Making of Philadelphia (5:59): This featurette presented in 480p was made at the time of filming and includes interviews from the time with the stars.
Original Theatrical Trailer (3:02): Trailer is presented in 480p in open matte.
Twilight Time has also included an attractive booklet with informative liner notes by Julie Kirgo that are recommended reading for anyone who enjoys the film.
Philadelphia is an entertaining film in spite of its challenging subject matter. In the hands of a lesser director, it could have been depressing instead of uplifting. Of course, different viewers will perceive the film in different ways, but Philadelphia is appreciated by many as a celebration of the human spirit. Many of the special features from the 2-disc special edition DVD have been ported over to this release. Philadelphia on Blu-ray is a limited edition of 3,000 units licensed by Twilight Time from Sony Pictures. It is available for purchase exclusively through www.screenarchives.com.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Reviewed By: Timothy E
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