Straw Dogs Blu-ray Review
Directed by Sam Peckinpah
Written by David Zelag Goodman and Sam Peckinpah
1972, Region B (PAL), 113 minutes, Rated 18 (UK)
Blu-ray released on 24th October 2011
Dustin Hoffman as David Sumner
Susan George as Amy Sumner
Peter Vaughan as Tom Hedden
Peter Arne as John Niles
Ken Hutchison as Norman Scutt
T.P. McKenna as Major John Scot
The psychological thriller that was at one time banned by the BBFC for home viewing is now available in a fully restored and uncut edition for Blu Ray release for its 40th anniversary. Up until as recent as 2002, Straw Dogs was not available in its entirety, but now the blu ray is here and it is packed with enough features to please any fan.
David Sumner (Dustin Hoffman) is a quiet, mild mannered American who has moved with his wife Amy (Susan George) to a remote cottage near her Cornish hometown. This seemingly placid and quiet country life is what they crave, but it soon begins to turn sinister. The pair is subjected to extreme violence which threatens to destroy their lives.
The complexity of this story is as fresh as it ever was, and the violence is just as tense and brutal. One of the most striking things about the film is the characters and how we are always kept guessing about who they truly are, what motivates them and where our sympathy lies. Hoffman’s character for example, should be the well-loved hero of the tale, the two have done nothing to really invite what comes upon them, yet there is little to love about him. His wife Amy also brings along a lot of mixed emotions, this relationship brings a constant feel of uneasiness to the movie and it really begins to mess with your mind as the film comes to a climactic ending.
40 years on and Straw Dogs still holds strong as a tough to watch psychological piece, though it may not hold as much controversy as it first gained when it was released in 1971. This is a slow suspenseful film that plays with your mind. The notorious scenes of violent rape are still a gut wrenching experience for any viewer, and after a somewhat slow build up, have the desired effect on the viewer. With the remake just released this week, revisiting the classic that stirred up so much controversy may be the better option.
Video and Audio:
The Blu Ray captures the original film quality for the transfer to 16:9 aspect ratio, and there is no problem with the way film looks but there is a definite gritty feel to it, it will never look “perfect” but I think that is a good quality for Straw Dogs, it works really well. The sound is also very clear so there are no worries for hard-core fans in that respect.
This is pretty excellent collector’s edition, with a monster amount of DVD extras which include:
- 1971 Original US theatrical trailer
- 1971 3 x US TV spots, 1971 2 x US radio spots
- Commentary from Sam Peckinpah Biographers: Garner Simmons, David Weddle & Paul Seydor
- Commentary from close friend and PA of Sam Peckinpah: Katy Haber
- Interview with Susan George
- Interview with Producer Dan Melnick
- Interview with Sam Peckinpah Biographer Garner Simmons
- Isolated Jerry Fielding score in Stereo with additional cues
- On location stills
- Original publicity stills
- Original film posters & lobby cards
- History of Straw Dogs and the Censors
- Reviews, filmographies, facts & fascinating correspondence
- Before and After: Restoring a classic
These features though plentiful, will probably only interest the true fans of the movie and may not appeal to everyone. A few of them are simply slideshows of facts that you scroll through, but the documentaries are worth a look especially the before and after restoration piece. If you have yet to see any of these features it will certainly be a great addition, however a lot of these extras were on the 2002 DVD release, so may be nothing new for some.
*Note: The screenshots on this page are publicity stills and not a reflection of the Blu-ray image.*