DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Kinsey - Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, May 19, 2005.

  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

    Jun 24, 2003
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    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw



    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Film Year: 2004

    U.S. Rating: R
    Canadian Rating: 18A

    Film Length: 118 minutes
    Genre: Drama

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 2.35:1
    Colour/B&W: Colour

    Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround[*] English DTS 5.1 Surround[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround[*] French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Closed Captioned: Yes
    U.S. SLP: $25.98
    CDN SLP: Special Edition DVD: $49.98
    CDN SLP: DVD $43.98

    Release Date: May 17, 2005

    Film Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Liam Neeson (Alfred Kinsey), Laura Linney (Clara McMillen), Chris O’Donnell (Wardell Pomeroy), Peter Saragaard (Clyde Martin), Timothy Hutton (Paul Gebhard), John Lithgow (Alfred Seguine Kinsey), Tim Curry (Thurman Price), Oliver Pratt (Herman Wells)

    Directed by: Bill Condon
    Written by: Bill Condon

    Let’s talk about sex.

    The Kinsey Report. This is the book originally titled Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male that sent shockwaves across America in 1948. It was the work of Alfred Kinsey, an eccentric researcher of gall wasps who decided to shift his research the sexual relationships of over 18 000 people by travelling across the United States. His claim was that everyone had sex differently and there was no ‘one way’ despite popular belief of the opposite. His goal as a researcher was to find the answers about sex that people really wanted to know. After all, the early 20th Century was a seriously sexually deprived society and there were virtually no materials written or available on the subject of sex. Kinsey wanted to break through the restrictive barriers of this pleasurable act and educate those who wanted to know more.

    As we see in this film, his research and teachings were highly controversial. Many regarded him as an evil to society by spreading this “immoral” information in his book. Kinsey’s motives were not for immoral reasons; he was driven by the ignorance of people regarding sex. There was no outlet for people to discuss questions like “do I do things the normal way?” His first indication of massive interest on this subject was a class he held at a university. The number of students who signed up for this course, in both male and female genders, was enormous. In light of this, Kinsey was able to secure funding for his research.

    His research was based on a model of questions that were asked of each participant. The information is kept private from the name of the individual even to this day. It’s the information about the person’s sex history that was very important to Kinsey. The more Kinsey worked on his research, the more obsessed he became with it. He became a preacher of his work, much like his father before him. His research consumed his life.

    There is no doubt that Kinsey’s work had so much influence during its time that it helped shaped the society we live in today. People were divided as liberals of the act and traditionalists who see sex as only a way to procreate (with all other motives being immoral). Society became swept into a sexual revolution because of the openness and popularity of sex. Today, sex sells in our media and whereas it wouldn’t dare to sell in the 1940s. Who knows, to what extent, Kinsey’s work influenced this.

    I felt the film was well paced, if not just a touch too slow, but very interesting all of the way through. The film is blunt with its dialogue so if you feel you could be embarrassed watching discussions of sex and private parts around others you should watch this by yourself. The acting is top-notch by all performers, especially Neeson and Saragaard who I think nailed the characters down perfectly.

    This film is brought to the screen by writer/director Bill Condon who also directed the award winning Gods and Monsters. Kinsey has been nominated for three Golden Globe Awards including Best Motion Picture (Drama), Best Performance by an Actor (Liam Neeson) and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Laura Linney).

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The film’s image is neutral in colour richness never appearing too saturated or unsaturated. Flesh tones are dead-on realistic but sadly the three-dimensionality is not. I find the image to be a little soft for a new film and I don’t believe it’s intentional. This is my opinion and others are free to argue that. I also think the film has more grain then I thought it should. Thankfully there are no compression artefacts nor is there edge enhancement. This is a pleasing picture with a comfortable amount of contrast as it switches between colour and the black and white interview sessions with Kinsey (Neeson). The aspect ratio is 2.35:1.

    AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    We are given two audio options to choose from; a Dolby Digital 5.1 option and a DTS 5.1 option. Both soundtracks are the same of course, it’s just how they do it is different. The end result is consistent with what I hear on other titles. The Dolby version has extended high frequency and the DTS sounds more refined in the mid-bass and bass regions.

    The sound design is calm because it is front-soundstage heavy. Most of the use of sound occurs in the center channel and the left/right channels. There is no effort on the sound design to create phantom imaging between these channels. While the ambiences of rooms such as lecture halls are recreated, the sounds don’t blend well between channels so in the truest sense this is multi-channel mono. Only the music soundtrack doesn’t suffer from this - and that is no surprise.

    Still, the sound effects and dialogue do not suffer from peaking (dialogue is a little heavy sounding). The music sounds unveiled and lively. Given the genre of film, this is a soundtrack that won’t disappoint.

    SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    There are two version of this disc on the market, one is almost a bare-bones release with just a commentary by writer/director Bill Condon (it’s so tempting to type Condom…fits for this film!) and the other release has a second disc dedicated entirely to special features. Oddly enough, my packaging was for the single disc version but there were two discs inside! Score!

    Disc One:

    There is a commentary by writer/director Bill Condon. It’s a good commentary and Condon keeps it interesting, although much of the information presented here is repeated in a special documentary on disc 2.

    Disc Two:

    Clocking in at one hour and twenty-three minutes is the documentary titled The Kinsey Report. It covers many areas of production such as how the film was delayed and came to be. It features many interviews with production staff as well as the director and producer. They discuss the film being made and also give information about their own sex lives in Kinsey-style questions. Interviews with staff at the Kinsey Institute are also a part of the documentary. This is an excellent feature that is put together very well. It is broken down into different sections and chapter stops allow you to navigate through it.

    Everyone’s favourite feature on a DVD are the deleted scenes. This one has 23 minutes of deleted or extended scenes including the original ending. There are about 20 scenes in total and all have the option to listen to Condon talk about why they were excised from the final cut. In all honesty, I’m glad they were or else the movie would have really dragged.

    A theatrical trailer and a teaser are included, both are widescreen 1.85:1 and are not enhanced for widescreen TVs.

    A gag reel is included, so when they aren’t talking about sex, they are laughing about it. I guess they could only take this film so seriously for so long before they start to have fun with it on the set. Making this movie begs for jokes behind the scenes.

    We also get a small glimpse into the (small) museum at the Kinsey Institute in the featurette titled Sex Education at the Kinsey Institute. There are some interesting artefacts behind those glass windows. It’s amazing what people can make out of stone…and then use it as a doorstop.

    Lastly, you can be questioned by the Kinsey institute with an Interactive Sex Questionnaire made for this DVD and based on a new model developed by the Institute. It is based on how you react to excitement, performance, and possible consequences. Customized for both males and females, this is a very cool feature.


    For most people, talking about sex is not always the easiest thing to do. But before the 1950s there was almost no one people could go to learn about this subject. Thanks to Kinsey, this information is now widely available in many forms of media and for people interested in different sexual encounters. Whether one believes him to be a saviour of the sexual mind or an evil-doer of society, his story is worth a look. With the amount of interest the director had on this subject and with the dedication of all who worked to make this film a reality, Kinsey has been given the thumbs up by the Kinsey Institute as well as yours truly. Happy findings.

    Michael Osadciw
  2. danak

    danak Second Unit

    Sep 25, 2002
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    Nice review. One question: Did you really mean to say or did you mean to say deprived? It really changes the meaning depending on which word you meant
  3. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

    May 30, 2000
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    Thanks for the review Michael, I was wondering if it was worth picking up the special edition, You made my decision easier.

    If my Great-Grandparents were any example, it was depraved![​IMG]
  4. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    May 19, 2002
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    Hey--I'm depraved on account of I'm deprived. [​IMG]
  5. ZacharyTait

    ZacharyTait Cinematographer

    Aug 10, 2003
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    Excellent review, Michael.

    I picked up the 2-disc set and it is on terrific DVD. I just wish Best Buy would have done a better job with their stickers on the slip cover, since for once, the slip cover is not the same as the DVD case cover. Oh well.

    Also, there is one big goof in the description on the back. It says "Laura Linney garnered a Best Actress nomination for her compelling performance as Kinsey's free-thinking wife." Oops! That should have been Best Supporting Actress.
  6. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

    Jun 24, 2003
    Likes Received:
    Real Name:
    Michael Osadciw
    Danak - I meant to say deprived. Information about sex was being held back at the time. I don't think people considered the act corrupt or morally bad; the subject was just very taboo. Thanks for pointing out that error.

    Zachary - I didn't see that on the back of the slipcase. I'm glad you liked the review!

  7. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Screenwriter

    Sep 13, 2003
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    Well, I'll disagree with you based on this evidence:

    It's an anamorphically-shot film photographed by Freddie Elmes, who also shot David Lynch's anamorphic films BLUE VELVET and WILD AT HEART. Both of those are also very "soft" looking. I honestly think this delicate, "soft" look is Elme's signature shooting style when he uses anamorphic.


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