Footloose (1984) Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1
- Subtitles:English, Spanish, French, Portuguese
- Region: A (B? C?)
- Rating: PG
- Discs: 1
- Studio: Paramount
- Blu-ray Release Date: September 27, 2011
- List Price: $24.99
Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures
(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
Footloose was one of those 1980’s movies, like St. Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club, Reality Bites, that epitomized the Generation Xers. As a cinematic allegory depicting the cultural conflict between young people’s pop music and the conservative church mandates against public dancing, it delivers a mostly successful message that there are no societal absolutes. The soundtrack is peppered with top 40 hits, and the cast features some of the fresh new film faces of the era.
The story line is disarmingly simple. New kid from Chicago (Kevin Bacon) winds up at “Bomont” Texas, the proverbial edge of the flat earth. He quickly finds out that there is a proscription against dancing to popular music. In short order, he is befriended by Willard (the late Chris Penn), and falls hard for Ariel (Lori Singer), the daughter of the local minister (John Lithgow) and his wife (Diane Wiest). Coming-of-age films are often undermined by lackluster direction or scripts. In this case, the potential triteness of the plot is minimized by Dean Pitchford’s script, and Herbert Ross’ spot on direction. By the way, the fabulous dance sequences don’t hurt either.
While1984, the issue date of this film, is not exactly an antediluvian movie epoch, some prints age better than others. The 2004 DVD anniversary issue was a pretty good effort in recreating the atmosphere of a small town and the physiognomies of beautiful young people. This Blu-ray reissue is an obvious improvement over the original. The BD remastering is unfortunately a bit uneven with patches of graininess and some close-ups lacking the visual pop of other restorations of this era.
With the exception of the musical tracks which are vibrant and evocative, the DTS-HD Master Audio 6.1 soundtrack is somewhat flat. It is the audio analogue of what happens when The Wizard of Oz goes from black-and-white to Technicolor. When the pop music starts, the music is gonna get you and does it ever! Perhaps this was the intent of the sound engineers and, if so, I would buy it. There is little ambient information in the surround channels but Footloose does not suffer in this respect.
There are carry over interviews in standard definition from the 2004 DVD. These are ably augmented by HD interviews with Kevin Bacon, Sarah Jessica Parker, and a touching reminiscence of costar Chris Penn.
The Definitive Word
Of the youth-oriented films of this era, Footloose stands up quite well on repeated viewings. One tends to forget that star Kevin Bacon was already an accomplished veteran of nine movies, although this was his first really major role.The rest of the cast does not disappoint either with outstanding contributions by co-stars Lori Singer, a native Texan who does not have to fake an accent, and the redoubtable John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest. The story is painted in fairly broad strokes but this does not detour the essence of generational conflict, in this case, well scripted, directed, and acted. Dancing has been used as a metaphor for a wide range of human behavior. Whether it be religious, celebratory, mourning, procreational, or sheerly physical, dance remains a unique element of our humanity. Footloose does as good a job as any in relating the exuberance of the new generation, the strict concern of the preceding generation, and crafting a resolution that will resonate well after the end titles are over.
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