New on Blu: AMERICAN GRAFFITI

J.C. De Leon

by: J.C. De Leon
May 31st, 2011

There is another Blu-ray release this week that also features a directorial debut, this time a retro release from George Lucas. Similar to those other movies he directs, AMERICAN GRAFFITI takes place a long time ago, just not in a galaxy far, far away. Instead it takes place in ‘60s America, where teenagers didn’t have the advanced communication technology they have today. Back then, they had to talk to each other face to face, and what made for a good night was simply cruising around town in cars. Guys chased chicks, and girls flirted with boys. It was a simpler time, and this film is a good reminder of how good kids had it, even in the ‘60s.

It’s a coming of age story that focuses on a group of high schoolers after graduation and before some of them are about to go off to college, and some of them are going to stay in their hometown. Featuring early performances from actors like Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Charles Martin Smith, and of course Harrison Ford, this isn’t going to be one that you will want to miss.

It’s a feature directorial debut so there are plenty of flaws here, but from the onset it’s apparent that George Lucas knows how to get the most out of a cast. Despite the rapidfire pace of the story switching, there is an adequate amount of time spent with each of the main characters and it’s kind of wonderful seeing the transformations these kids go through in one night. While still teenagers, it’s apparent the kind of men and women these people will grow up to be. Some of their stories will be tragic and some will be triumphant, but there is one thing that will remain true with each viewing of this Blu-ray, and that is how great, and terrible it was to be a teenager.

The Blu-ray is an outstanding one. It’s beautiful to look at and sounds absolutely great. Whenever a screencap can look as lovely as a shot of Mel’s Drive-In at night, surely something was done right in the filmmaking process. It's full of great extras that, despite how you feel about the man now, George Lucas fans will want to hear and see. There are some in-depth commentaries that highlight Lucas’ approach to the material and the rest of the overall filmmaking process. Overall this is definitely a set worth picking up, especially for Lucas fans.

Official list of extras:

U-Control Video Commentary: While this is an okay supplement to the making of documentary, this overall isn’t going to add anything to the experience of the film. What’s great about the making of documentary is how it enhances subsequent viewings after viewing. This doesn’t necessarily provide that same feeling.

The Music of American Graffiti: A second U-Control experience is also available. When engaged, pop-up windows reveal the titles, artist names, and original record information of the various songs that grace the film. Unfortunately, users can't turn on both U-Control features at the same time.

The Making of American Graffiti: The best and most informative extra of the bunch. It is a seven-part documentary that finds Lucas, screenwriting duo Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, and other key members of the cast and crew at their most open and  candid. Most of the cast appears in this feature including Harrison Ford and Richard Dreyfuss. It’s an incredibly engrossing feature that is overall just as good as the film itself. Segments include "Genesis of the Project," "A Personal Story," "Casting," "Production Begins," "Production Stories," "Post Production" and "Final Words."

Screen Tests: Now this is actually very cool. Here is a collection of original screen tests with actors Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Paul Le Mat, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, and Charles Martin Smith. It was kind of amazing seeing these actors, some legendary at such a young age having to really earn role to get their careers started.

Theatrical Trailer

BD-Live Functionality and News Ticker

My Scenes Bookmarking

 

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