A.J.'s DVD Rating: 4 "Make Show" Stars
Review published
January 29, 2005
Final Thoughts:
 
Except for the insufferably dry half-hour interview with Iain Softley included with the bonus materials, Backbeat is a stellar DVD presentation. For fans of the Beatles, it's a sure winner!
BACKBEAT
Technical Details
DVD Encoding: Region 1
Aspect Ratio: Widescreen anamorphic
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1) / French (2.0)
Special Edition: Digital Video Transfer, Surround Sound, Restored

MOVIE REVIEW
   
You've no doubt heard of John, Paul, George, and Ringo. But what about John, Paul, George, Pete, and Stu? The original fab five included Pete Best on drums, and Stuart Sutcliffe on bass guitar. For Pete Best's fate, you'll have to read any number of Beatles books (or lawsuits), for this is not his story. Backbeat is about Stuart Sutcliffe, a close mate of John Lennon's who couldn't sing and never actually learned to play bass very well, but more than made up for it with charismatic charm and a natural ability to look really cool on stage. But the band was not Stuart's main concern, for at heart, he was an artist, not a rocker. Backbeat is the compelling and ultimately tragic true story of this fifth Beatle and his lover, photographer Astrid Kirchherr. Featuring excellent performances by the entire cast and a scorching soundtrack of early rock classics, Backbeat is an essential chapter in Beatles pre-history.
DVD FEATURES
    
Menu Screen Presentation
The main menu screen depicts the nearly fab five, along with Astrid Kirchherr in a "With the Beatles" style graphic, with the Backbeat title graphic and menu selections below. Choices include Scenes, Bonus Materials, Languages, and Play, with a guitar icon for highlighting. Background music is a jazzy instrumental stroll from the film score. Scenes menu features still images.
   
Commentary With Director Iain Softley
Not your average director's commentary track, as it also includes actors Ian Hart and Stephen Dorff, who play, respectively, John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe in the film! Excellent content about the making of the film!


A Conversation With Astrid Kirchherr
A wonderfully edited interview segment, which uses clips from the movie, as well as Astrid's photographs and Stuart's paintings to sketch a portrait of Sutcliffe, not as a Beatle, but as the artist he always was. Runtime: 7:15
    
Deleted Scenes
Two grainy outtakes separated by title cards. Total runtime: 2:58
A Frosty Sense of Humour: Stuart tells the joke about the baby polar bear. (know it?)
Perfect Fit: Stu and Astrid dress up to get undressed. (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

Iain Softley Interview for The Sundance Channel     
Backbeat director Iain Softley discusses the making of the film, as well as his own motivations for telling the story. Though informative, the static camera and talking-head format is not entertaining to watch. Close your eyes and its radio! Runtime: 28:27
  
Iain Softley & Ian Hart Interview
Iain Softley and Ian Hart talk about Backbeat. Includes some of the same information covered in the previous interview with Iain Softley, made more entertaining through the friendly rapport between director and actor. Runtime: 9:57

TV Featurette
A nice promotional clip featuring scenes from the film, short interviews with the Backbeat cast and crew, and background about its storyline. Runtime: 11:58
 
Casting Session
Screen tests for cast members Stephen Dorff, Gary Bakewell, and Wolf Kahler. Also includes a fun rock & roll rehearsal by Ian Hart, Gary Bakewell, Chris O'Neil, and Scot Williams as a certain soon-to-be well known band performing Twist & Shout!
Runtime: 6:39

Director's Essay
A January, 2003 essay that covers much of the same territory as Softley's Backbeat interviews and film commentary, skillfully abridged for easy reading.

Photo Gallery
a series of 19 movie still and behind the scenes photographs, with descriptive captions.
   
Subtitles
English captions are provided for the hearing impaired.
Subtitles also available in French and Spanish.
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