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Fame

Blu Ray

  • Score
    47
    from 1 reviewers
    Review Date:
  • Original Fame: not kid-friendly but a real '80s gem for adults seeking nostalgia.

    Fame Blu-ray Front Cover

    Disc Release Date:

  • Video
    52
  • The Fame Blu-ray delivers a decent, true-to-era 1080p/VC-1 transfer with vibrant colors and solid blacks, though slight softness and heavy grain limit detail sharpness. No major digital flaws detected.

  • Audio
    52
  • In the 2009 Fame remake review, the Blu-ray's immersive audio, with its intricate sound design and clarity, outshines the original, yet its Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track impresses with clean, bold music and effective ambient sounds despite some dated elements and noticeable ADR.

  • Extra
    42
  • Alan Parker's engaging commentary, in-depth cast and crew interviews, behind-the-scenes and real-life school insights offer a rich dive into Fame's creation, along with a soundtrack teaser.

  • Movie
    47
  • Fame delves into the highs of youthful ambition and creativity but doesn't shy from its darker, gritty realities and broken dreams, downplaying the optimism seen in its spin-offs.

    Video: 52

    The Blu-ray release of the original "Fame" brings the early '80s atmosphere to the forefront with its 1080p/VC-1 encoded transfer. This transfer, while not groundbreaking, does an admirable job in showcasing the film's visual aesthetics. The color palette stands out, with bright and often pastel hues of clothing popping against the more subdued settings of school interiors. Specific colors such as reds and pinks are particularly vibrant, catching the eye in scenes featuring Ralph's bandana, a dance instructor’s sweater, and the neon glow from an exterior sign in Times Square. The transfer brings a richness to colors and black levels that add depth to the visuals, and while shadow detail is commendably preserved, there is a persistent softness throughout the film that slightly dims the potential for crisp detail.

    This softening of the image detail could be ascribed to several factors, including director Alan Parker's noted use of fine smoke to diffuse lighting during filming, possibly affecting sharpness alongside choices in lenses or the transfer process itself. However, it's essential to clarify that this does not detract significantly from the viewing experience. The film's presentation is relatively clean, with an analog grain that remains faithful to its source material, albeit with moments where grain intensity unexpectedly spikes. Noteworthy is the absence of digital noise reduction (DNR) smearing or overzealous edge enhancement, ensuring that the original filmic texture is preserved without artificial alterations. Despite minor issues with some blotchiness in bright highlights, the overall transfer lacks notable color, transfer, or compression errors, presenting a near immaculate print that nostalgically brings "Fame" into the high-definition era.

    Audio: 52

    The audio presentation of the Blu-ray release of "Fame" impresses with its clarity and detail, particularly given the limitations of the original film's audio components. The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track does a commendable job of delivering a clean, bold sound that brings the film's musical elements to life. From Bruno's synthesizers that deliver an electronic symphony to the iconic and catchy title song and the vibrant energy of the Hot Lunch Jam, the audio quality shines through. The mix handles both music and environmental sounds with aplomb, ensuring that each element, whether it be a full drum set emerging from table taps or the immersive city sounds of New York, contributes to a rich auditory experience. The sparing but effective use of rear channels adds depth to the soundscape, enveloping viewers in the movie's atmosphere.

    However, while music and environmental sounds are handled well, there are moments where the age of the source audio shows. Particularly, some automated dialogue replacement (ADR) can be noticeable, pulling attention away from the scene at hand. Yet, voices remain balanced across quieter dialogues and more robust vocal performances, preserving the integrity of performances amidst these minor flaws. This balance is crucial in maintaining immersion, ensuring that neither dialogue nor song ever feels out of place within the wider audio landscape.

    In summary, "Fame"'s Blu-ray audio presentation offers a robust and detailed experience that both honors and elevates the original material. Despite some signs of its age, particularly in ADR quality, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track succeeds in creating an engaging and immersive soundscape. From lively musical numbers to the subtle nuances of New York's backdrop, the audio makes "Fame" a pleasure to hear, balancing its elements with skill to bring forth a polished auditory experience.

    Extra: 42

    The Blu-ray extras for "Fame" offer an eclectic and immersive dive into both the film's creation and its legacy. From director Alan Parker's detailed commentary to the nostalgic on-location footage, these additional materials enrich the viewing experience, providing context and celebrating the film’s cultural impact. Particularly compelling are the candid interviews with the cast and crew, which, when watched in tandem with the film, offer a layered understanding of the creative process. The inclusion of a soundtrack sampler CD is a delightful bonus, appealing directly to fans of the movie's iconic music. These extras, ranging from technical behind-the-scenes insights to heartfelt reflections on the film’s influence, make this Blu-ray a must-have for enthusiasts of both the film and the era it encapsulates.

    Extras included in this disc:

    • Commentary by Director Alan Parker: A detailed commentary with insights into the film's production.
    • Interviews with Cast and Crew: An interactive feature allowing viewers to access video interviews during the movie.
    • On Location with Fame: A vintage featurette providing a behind-the-scenes look at the making of "Fame".
    • Fame Field Trip: A documentary exploring the real-life school that inspired the movie.
    • Soundtrack Sampler CD: A CD included with the Blu-ray featuring four tracks from the film's soundtrack.
    • Theatrical Trailer: The original promotional trailer for "Fame".

    Movie: 47

    Fame," directed by Alan Parker, stands as a testament to the gritty reality of aspiring artists, distinguishing itself from its more sanitized successors and spin-offs. Unlike the TV series or the 2009 remake, which gloss over the hardships in favor of a more palatable narrative, this 1980 film delves deeply into the vicissitudes of talent, ambition, and the stark realities faced by students at a New York City high school for performing arts. From the auditions to graduation, we witness not just the evolution of their craft but also their encounters with life's harsher truths—be it through Ralph Garci's comedic aspirations shadowed by personal demons, or Montgomery's courageous acceptance of his sexuality amidst societal stigma. The portrayal of these nuanced journeys captures a slice of life far removed from the glittering facade of show business.

    The ensemble cast's varied arcs reflect the film's core message: talent alone does not guarantee success. Coco's harrowing experience on a fake casting couch, a dancer's contemplation of suicide following critical rebuke, and Leroy's progression from a tumultuous youth to artistic recognition, underscore the perilous path to fame. These storylines are woven together with authentic performances and compelling dance numbers that epitomize the era's vibrancy while exposing the industry's exploitative tendencies. Alan Parker's direction ensures that each character's story, though individually significant, collectively portrays a broader narrative of resilience, vulnerability, and the pursuit of artistic validation.

    Despite its occasional descent into early 80s clichés—highlighted by a distinctive fashion sense and an eclectic soundtrack—"Fame" distinguishes itself with its willingness to confront the darker aspects of fame and ambition. The film’s critical examination of the entertainment industry’s allure and the inevitable disillusionment that accompanies it is balanced with moments of exuberance and artistic triumph. However, its ambition to cover extensive ground with multiple characters sometimes leaves the viewer craving a deeper exploration of each storyline. Yet, "Fame" remains an iconic piece of cinema that resonates for its raw depiction of the trials and triumphs of aspiring artists, enduring as a poignant reminder of the chasm between dreams and reality in the unforgiving landscape of show business.

    Total: 47

    The Blu-ray presentation of Alan Parker's original "Fame" captures the gritty realism and raw energy that defined the film upon its initial release. Unlike its sanitized, remake counterpart, this version does not shy away from the more mature themes that it's known for; including cursing, nudity, sexual situations, and the stark portrayal of failure. This authenticity provides a sharp contrast to modern "bubblegum pop" productions, making it a compelling watch for those seeking a nostalgic trip back to the '80s or for newcomers interested in a more unvarnished depiction of the pursuit of stardom.

    Technical aspects of this Blu-ray release have been meticulously handled to ensure that the movie’s visual and auditory elements are faithfully reproduced. Viewers can expect an audio-visual experience that honors the original cinematography and soundtrack, which are essential components of the film's immersive atmosphere. However, potential buyers should be informed about the film's mature content, which might not be suitable for younger audiences. The inclusion of these elements serves to underscore the film's commitment to portraying the struggles and successes of its characters with unflinching honesty.

    In conclusion, the Blu-ray release of "Fame" offers an evocative and engaging viewing experience that stands in stark contrast to its more contemporary counterparts. Its preservation of the film's original integrity, both in content and quality, makes it an invaluable addition to the collection of those who appreciate cinema that dares to depict the complexities of life and ambition without censorship. While it may not be the right choice for all audiences, for fans of the era or those seeking a grittier narrative, this version of "Fame" is certainly worth the investment.