16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Excellent documentary, but...,
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This review is from: In From the Cold? - The World of Richard Burton [DVD]  [NTSC] (DVD)
Tony Palmer is like Marmite. You either love him or hate him. He's been called many things, many of them not terribly nice, but on the few occassions I conversed with him via e-mail about aspects of his 'Wagner' film, he came across as being a genuinely nice chap and more than happy to share a few stories regarding his time on 'Wagner' and how his mistress at the time was, in fact, a KGB spy!
His documentary on Burton is superb. An abundance (almost 2 hours!) of archive footage and interviews that paints Burton in a light that is not exactly flattering, but illuminating and understandable. Burton the man who became a lifeless husk ruined by love/lust and the riciculous circus of THAT relationship, before finding some sort of repose in the twilight of his career. It's a sad moment when Burton, in the make-up chair for 'Wagner', basically tells the cameraman that he hates everything about himself: looks, voice, everything. It is self-loathing to the bone. A man sucked dry, unable to converse in anything but oft repeated stories, as his daughter relates in a later interview. Burton detested acting and pretty much detested himself. The drink, once fun, had now become a refuge, a crutch, a barrier to deal with shyness and the non-sense of his life. And yet, what amazing talent the man had. And what enormous generosity to people around him. Burton was the archetypal paradox - a real sinner/saint.
The same could be said of this DVD. Brilliant documentary ruined by - presumably - Tony Palmer's attempt to make it 'widescreen'. It should be in 4:3 aspect ratio, but the DVD shifts uncomfortably in between various ratios! It's annoying when the 'correct' ratio is suddenly replaced by squashed faces and heads. Try as you might, there is no surefire solution to this technical screw-up. If you purchase the DVD you'll just have to endure, unless Tony Palmer corrects this puzzling error.
That aside, and if you can put up with it, the DVD is worth buying.