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The Man in the Iron Mask

The Man in the Iron Mask
An MGM Home Video Release
1998, 132 Minutes, Color, Rated PG-13

Starring:  Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu, Gabriel Byrne, Anne Parillaud, Judith Godreche, Edward Atterton
List Price:  $24.99 USD, released 08/11/98
Packaging:  Keepcase, Region 1 NTSC
Disc Format:  Dual Sided, Single Layered (DVD-10)
Aspect Ratio:  1.33:1 Pan & Scan, 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Audio Formats:  English 5.1, French 2.0 Surround
Subtitles:  English, French, Spanish
Closed Captioning:  English
Features:  Director’s Commentary, Documentary, Outtakes, Theatrical Trailers, Production Notes, Cast & Filmmakers’ Biographies, Interactive Animated Menus, Scene Selection, Web Links

In 1662 Louis XIV rules France, debauching young women and waging war while the people of Paris starve in the streets. Only one of the Musketeers that served his father so faithfully remains: D'Artagnan, the captain of the guards, while Aramis, Athos and Porthos have retired some time ago. During a social gathering Louis sets his eye upon Christine, the fiancee of Athos’s son, Raoul. In order to guarantee her successful conquest, the king sends Raoul to the front lines of the war, even though he has already served his time. Raoul is killed and his father begins to formulate a plan to take revenge on the king. Aramis confesses that there is a man, hidden deep in the Bastille, who wears a mask of iron. He could solve their troubles. And so they set out to free the mysterious prisoner, whose face no one has laid eyes on in six years. Leonardo DiCaprio plays dual roles in this remarkably lively drama, as both King Louis and the man in the mask.

I’ve always been pleased with MGM releases and this one is no exception, providing a gorgeous 1.85:1 widescreen anamorphic transfer that impresses in so many ways. Not only is it clean and sharp, but the picture is pleasantly bright while still managing to maintain proper black levels throughout. Grain, compression artifacts and other imperfections are simply non-existent. The lush backgrounds and costumes come across with rich, powerful colors and impressive detail. Also included is a Pan & Scan version that nonchalantly crops the sides of the original theatrical presentation, removing much of the majesty in the period sets and locations. Both formats are contained on separate sides of a dual-sided disc, each featuring 36 chapter stops and 4.4 gigabytes of data. English, French and Spanish subtitles are available, as is English Closed Captioning.

The 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack is simply fantastic with exceptional usage of the rear channels. The marvelous orchestral score by Nick Glennie-Smith surrounds one from all sides, creating a full and vivid soundstage. Rich Bass is accompanied by a crystalline dialogue track. Also included is a French 2.0 surround track.

MGM could almost have made this a Special Edition with the addition of a few more supplements. What did make its way onto this otherwise packed disc is a full-length audio commentary by writer/director Randall Wallace, a short video of alternate mask prototypes, conceptual drawing screens and the original theatrical trailer in 1.85:1 video and 2.0 sound. What is normally included on the disc as text Production Notes have instead been packaged in a separate 8-page booklet.

I quite enjoyed this movie. MGM’s great video and audio mastering along with modest supplements make this a highly recommended disc.

- Reviewed by Daniel Tonks on September 12, 1999.

Video Quality:
Audio Quality:
1-Poor 2-Fair 3-Good 4-Excellent
System Equipment
Sony DVP-S500D DVD Player
Sony STR-GA8ES 5.1 Receiver
Sony KV-27V65 27" Television using S-Video
Nuance Spatial & Star Series Speakers

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