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Pleasantville

 (1,649)
7.51 h 59 min1998X-Ray12
Two modern day teenagers, brother and sister David and Jennifer, are transported by their TV repairman into the world of Pleasantville, a 1950s sitcom which David constantly watches. In Pleasantville the world is black and white, there is no sex or violence, the basketball team never loses and the library is full of blank books. But the presence of the two teens contaminates the dream-like atmo...
Directors
Gary Ross
Starring
William H. MacyMarissa RibisiPaul Walker
Genres
DramaFantasyComedy
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio Languages
English
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Supporting actors
Marley SheltonDon KnottsTobey MaguireJeff DanielsJ.T. WalshReese WitherspoonJoan AllenJane Kaczmarek
Studio
Warner Bros.
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

1649 global ratings

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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

J. L. SievertReviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 November 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Colourblind
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I have a friend who is colourblind, his grey world coloured by varying degrees of black and white. He’s never seen a rainbow, or not as you and I have done, so he doesn’t really know what he’s missing. He’ll just have to take our word for it that he’s missing a lot. Actually, he knows it subliminally, but he can’t colour such knowledge with brilliant reds, oranges, yellows, blues and greens. He doesn’t know what the fuss about Van Gogh and Gauguin is. The Fauves, Expressionists and Impressionists might as well be lumped together for all he knows and sees.

What does a world drained of colour look like for those who live in it? It looks like this — Pleasantville. Why is Pleasantville pleasant? Because it’s conservative, stable, unchanging, dependable, reliable. But the downside is dull, bland uniformity, a place without imagination. It’s a town but could also be a box or cage. Streets in Pleasantville don’t go far. They peter out at the edge of town. Beyond that, who knows? Beyond doesn’t exist either as a word or concept. There is only this — Pleasantville and its pleasantness.

David is a nostalgia buff. Canned American television is the fantasy world he lives in. He loves the supposed values of an earlier time: Mom in apron in the kitchen singing to herself; Dad home from work in suit and tie at 5:30 on the dot, briefcase in hand, honey on his tongue: “Honey, I’m home!” The family dog who never tears up the sofa or soils the rug. The helpful brothers and sisters who never bicker and screech. The friendly milkman and postman. The cheerful neighbours, all their smiling faces white. Make America Great Again!

Modern life is frenetic and angst ridden. Disaffection and cynicism reign. So does corruption and inequality. Greed runs the world. No one lives simply anymore.

But they do in Pleasantville, a world that has become Shangri-La to David. He’s about 16 now, his older sister Jennifer maybe 17 or 18. She’s cute and popular with the boys. More than popular, even. David by contrast is shy, introverted, geeky, virginal. Kissing is not something he’s done or is even on his to-do list. He prefers television, and not just any television. America in the ‘50s was a better place than now, a place where people never cursed and fornicated, where courtesy was acceptable and crime didn’t pay.

This weekend the local station is running a Pleasantville marathon. The TV show will air continuously for 24 hours. Junkies of the show will be glued to their sets throughout the night, living in vicarious, resplendent black & white glory. David will be one of them. Not Jennifer though. She’ll be out with the captain of the football team or some other macho guy. Geeks are for loser girls, for those in long skirts who wear glasses and have metal braces on their teeth. Not Jennifer. Sexy is the aim of her dolling herself up with make-up, heels and short skirts. David is embarrassed by her. Jennifer, in turn, is embarrassed by David. They exist chalk-and-cheese style side by side.

Something weird happens during the marathon. Something uncanny. An eccentric TV repairman appears at the house of David and Jennifer. Where their single mum is they don’t know. She’s often out running around, more interested in men and booze than her children. The marathon goes on without her.

The siblings are fighting over the TV remote controller when the repairman knocks at their door. David wants to watch “Pleasantville”, the 1950s sit-com. Jennifer prefers MTV. As they argue they accidentally break the remote and the TV goes dead. No matter. The elderly geeky repairman (Don Knotts) gives them a new remote controller that will take them through Alice’s looking glass (their TV). The world goes black and white. David is Bud, a teenager in the Parker family, circa 1957. Jennifer is Mary Sue. Their parents are George and Betty Parker, as dull and square as they come, loving and cheerful but utterly empty and boring. David tries to adapt as Bud, embracing the Pleasantville world. But Jennifer is not amused, Mary Sue the last sort of person she wants to be. She wants out of this bizarre black-and-white gulag.

But hold on there. Not so fast. This is David’s adamant advice. Besides, no escape route back to reality and contemporary times has yet emerged, so they will have to sit tight until one does.

This is the 20-year anniversary of the film, so the story is well known among many. However, just briefly now without revealing too much.

Bill Johnson is a soda jerk who runs the local malt shop, a place where teenagers congregate after school to drink soda pop, giggle and be confused by their raging hormones. No one kisses or even holds hands in Pleasantville. Going steady is the goal, landing a boyfriend or girlfriend, but what happens after this is virgin territory, so to speak. Pleasantville is chaste, pure, innocent. Babies come from somewhere, but no one in the soda shop is sure where.

Bill, the shop manager, has a problem. At heart he’s an artist, but in Pleasantville this means frustrated artist. He loves to sketch, draw, doodle. And when he does a strange sensation comes over him. That sensation is incipient passion, fired — or at least warmed — by the sparks of imagination. Bill is also venturing into unknown territory, a realm that has taken him to the brink of colour — colour made by passion.

Deep down Betty Parker, mother of Bud and Mary Sue, is an artist too, or at least one who appreciates art and what it can do. How she knows this we do not know, but she does. The times when Betty is in the malt shop are special for Bill. When she’s there he’s Vermeer with his enchanting pearl-earringed girl with wet lips. Or he could be Leonardo in the presence of Mona Lisa. Something like that. Something stirred by her in him. Something that wants to break free. A fearful but exhilarating feeling.

One day he finds the courage to ask her to pose for him. She’s astounded, even thrilled, but also confused, reticent, embarrassed. What would the town think? What would her husband do? But Bill, wholly enthralled, presses on: Who would need to know? Forbidden fruit is the tastiest, the juiciest.

And so it begins. The greys and blacks and whites begin to fade. Colour breaks the chains that bind, liberates the timid mind. It also brings beauty into the world, including the beauty of Betty’s naked body rendered in oils as a mural. Wow! Beauty that shocks, disturbs, rattles and confuses, but one that frees the world from its dependency on blandness and dullness.

Pleasantville of course is not where it’s at. David could handle the gig as Bud for a while, but even he — super geek back in the real world — becomes bored with the geekiness of Pleasantville. As for Jennifer, she has problems acting in character as Mary Sue. She’s frisky, flirty and knows what to do with zippers even if the boys of Pleasantville don’t in the presence of teenage girls. They’ve never heard of sex. So Jennifer, being Jennifer, initiates a scandal as Mary Sue. This rebellion seems to suddenly run in the Parker family somehow. At least with the females. George is left saying “Hi, Honey” to an empty room when returning home while Betty lies sprawled and naked in back room of the malt shop for Bill and his happy easel to admire in technicolor.

The message of the parable is clear. At least two options present themselves in life: (1) the safe, comfortable, quotidian one of predictable routine, or (2) the one of risk, exploration and potential discovery. We’re given colour for a reason, says the film. Beauty is worth knowing, having, experiencing. It comes in far more shades and hues than black and white. Some birds and insects have a colour range far wider than that of human beings. Imagine how beautiful the world looks to them. There are no birds and insects in Pleasantville. At least none were shown in the film. They belong to a far more beautiful world than Pleasantville, and luckily we do too.

Everyone is an artist. This is so because all have emotion and sensation. What is lacking in some is follow-through, the urge and need to express it.

Way to go Bill and Betty! They make this film a classic.
7 people found this helpful
AlbatrossReviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 December 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
More films should be like this
Verified purchase
There are some films which seem to come and go and no one ever really seems to notice. With all the big-budget movies out there which are predicable, laden with annoying CGI effects and follow a formula where you know exactly what will happen at all times, ‘Pleasantville’ is a real breath of fresh air. Yet, for some reason, no one really talks about it even though it’s held in high regard seemingly with everyone who’s seen it.

It’s rare that a film’s tagline sums it up so well, but you may see on any marketing ‘The Truman Show meets Back to the Future.’ And it’s hard to put it any better (although I saw a hint of ‘The Last Action Hero’ in the plot, but it’s barely noticeable!). Two of today’s American teens are – for reasons you’ll soon find out – ‘beamed’ into an old black and white TV show from yesteryear. It’s safe to say that things worked differently in the days before cell phones and Instagram. Back then firemen constantly rescued stranded cats from trees, teens holding hands was still a taboo and the most exciting thing the youth of the time could do was hand out the local milkshake bar. Therefore, our two young protagonists (played by Tobey Maguire and Reece Witherspoon) find it a challenge to blend in with the locals.

However, things really start to go wrong when their influence – literally – bring new life to the fictional telly town. Their modern influence slowly starts seeping into the people and environment and the black and white world they’ve found themselves in starts to become colour. Now, that wouldn’t be so bad, but the locals start engaging in – what they consider – to be ‘immoral’ behaviour (which you’d probably find on kids’ TV in today’s times). What follows is a tale about whether our two teens can actually escape their TV-prison and, what will happen to the residents they leave behind.

It’s truly one of the most clever – vaguely mainstream – films to come out of Hollywood in recent times and, if you’re in the mood for something that doesn’t involve superheroes flying around a destroyed U.S. city, then you should definitely watch this one.
3 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 January 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
PLEASANTVILLE [1998 / 2011] [Blu-ray]
Verified purchase
PLEASANTVILLE [1998 / 2011] [Blu-ray] [US Release] So Ambitious, So Clever and So Satisfying in So Many Ways! Nothing Is As Simple As Black and White!

In the black-and-white 1950s sitcom realm of PLEASANTVILLE, mom always has a yummy meatloaf in the oven, the home team never loses and romance is a shy peck on the cheek, until now. Because modern real-life teens David [Tobey Maguire] and Jennifer [Reese Witherspoon] are mysteriously zapped into that TV world. With them come ideas and passions that turn the town’s cosy perfection into something more challenging and colourful. From Gary Ross [‘Big’ and ‘Seabiscuit’] comes an imaginative fantasy that maintains its humour even as it reveals its own true colours about embracing life in all its messiness and unpredictability. Don’t touch that dial. Stay tuned to life in Pleasantville. The ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ film was dedicated to: Brent Lon Hershman [1961 – 1997], Gail Ross [1920 – 1997] and J.T. Walsh [1943 – 1997].

FILM FACT: Awards and Nominations: 1998 International Film Music Critics Award: Nominated: Best Original Score for a Drama Film for Randy Newman. Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Win: Best Supporting Actress for Joan Allen. Win: Best Production Design for Jeannine Oppewall. 1999 Academy Awards®: Nominated: Best Art Direction-Set Decoration for Jay Hart and Jeannine Oppewall. Nominated: Best Costume Design for Judianna Makovsky. Nominated: Best Music, Original Dramatic Score for Randy Newman. 1999 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films: Win: Best Supporting Actress for Joan Allen. Win: Best Performance by a Younger Actor or Actress for Tobey Maguire. Nominated: Best Fantasy Film. Nominated: Best Writer for Gary Ross. Nominated: Best Costumes for Judianna Makovsky. 1999 American Comedy Awards: Nominated: Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for William H. Macy. 1999 Art Directors Guild: Nominated: Best Feature Film for Dianne Wager (art director), Jeannine Oppewall (production designer) and William Arnold (supervising art director). 1999 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: Win: Best Supporting Actress for Joan Allen. Nominated: Best Picture. 1999 Costume Designers Guild Awards: Win: Excellence in Costume Design for Film for Judianna Makovsky. 1999 Hugo Awards: Nominated: Best Dramatic Presentation for Gary Ross (Director/Screenwriter).

Cast: Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Joan Allen, Jeff Daniels, J.T. Walsh, Don Knotts, Marley Shelton, Jane Kaczmarek, Giuseppe Andrews, Jenny Lewis, Marissa Ribisi, Denise Dowse, McNally Sagal, Paul Morgan Stetler, Heather McGill, Kevin Connors, Natalie Ramsey, Justin Nimmo, Kai Lennox, Jason Behr, Robin Bissell, Harry Singleton, John Ganun, Paul Walker, Dawn Cody, Maggie Lawson, Andrea Baker, Lela Ivey, Jim Patric, Marc Blucas, Stanton Rutledge, Jason Maves, Gerald Emerick, Charles C. Stevenson Jr., Nancy Lenehan, Weston Blakesley, Patrick Thomas O'Brien, Jim Antonio, Danny Strong, Kristin Rudrüd, Laura Carney, Dan Gillies, Erik MacArthur, Adam Carter, David Tom, Johnny Moran, Jeanine Jackson, J. Patrick Lawlor, James Keane, Luke Burnyeat (uncredited), John F. McCormick (uncredited), Randy Springer (uncredited), Joseph Benjamin Stewart (uncredited), Ty Taylor (uncredited), Meredith Thomas (uncredited) and Jennifer Tolkachev (uncredited)

Director: Gary Ross

Producers: Allen Alsobrook, Allison Thomas, Andy Borowitz, Bob Degus, Edward Lynn, Gary Ross, Jon Kilik, Mary Parent, Michael De Luca, Robin Bissell, Steven Soderbergh and Susan Borowitz

Screenplay: Gary Ross

Composer: Randy Newman

Cinematography: John Lindley

Video Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish [Latin] 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, Spanish [Castilian]: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo, Português: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo

Subtitles: English SDH, Português, Spanish [Latin], Cantonese, Spanish [Castilian], Português, Danish, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Norwegian, Português Brazilian] and Swedish

Running Time: 124 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: New Line Cinema

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: With ‘PLEASANTVILLE,’ Director/Writer Gary Ross plays out the tale of forbidden knowledge and the expulsion from the “Garden of Eden” synopsis, especially in a rather unique way. The plot of this comic-fantasy centres on two 1990's teenagers who find themselves sucked into the universe of a 1950’s sitcom called PLEASANTVILLE and is the idealised vision of 1950’s America, a place where everyone is white and lives in the suburbs, and the father comes home from work every day at exactly 6:00pm, and the mother stays at home, where she cooks and cleans in her high heels and pearls.

‘PLEASANTVILLE’ stars Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon as David and Jennifer, a pair of siblings who are the victims of the ever-growing divorce rate. With an absentee father and a mother looking to go AWOL, David and Jennifer have found their own ways of dealing with the situation. David has withdrawn and become the typical high school geek, while Jennifer has joined the "cool" crowd- seeking the affection of every high school hunk that happens her way. On a particular Friday night, when mom leaves town with her new boyfriend, David and Jennifer find themselves at odds over the remote control to their new big screen television. She has a date coming over to watch a concert on the music channel, while he intends to stay up for the twenty-four-hour PLEASANTVILLE marathon on the classic TV channel. The remote control becomes a casualty of their tug of war, leaving them with no way of turning on the television set. Seconds after their remote control is smashed to pieces, a Television Repairman [Don Knotts] magically shows up at their door, offering to solve their problem. The repairman gives David and Jennifer a new heavy-duty remote with some extra oomph that is guaranteed to put them right in the show.

With the new remote control in hand, the tug of war resumes, however the consequences of pushing all the buttons on the new device results in the siblings being zapped into the black-and-white world of PLEASANTVILLE. Much to their mutual shock, David has become PLEASANTVILLE’s own Bud Parker [Tobey Maguire] and Jennifer [Reese Witherspoon] assumes the identity of Bud Parker’s sister Mary Sue. At first, David decides to play along, assuming the role of Bud Parker with all the ease of someone who has watched the show religiously; however Jennifer cannot stand Mary Sue’s dull existence and rebels against it. Soon after Jennifer introduces a bit of forbidden knowledge to the denizens of this all too perfect slice of Americana, the town and its people begin to change. Like the domino effect, a single action sets in motion a chain reaction that no force in PLEASANTVILLE can ever stop. Real colours shockingly appear in the monochrome universe and the residents of PLEASANTVILLE start to question the meaning of their existence. Then, other, even more starling changes start to overtake the town. As the citizens themselves gradually turn to Bud Parker, the once harmonious community suddenly finds itself suddenly divided and experiencing all the growing pains of the real world.

The ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ film is filled with marvellous performances that exceed the technical brilliance of its black-and-white world that gradually turns to colour. Both Tobey Maguire and Reese Witherspoon are wonderful in the central roles of the film, especially Tobey Maguire who truly makes one believe in the magic of the film ‘PLEASANTVILLE.’ Jeff Daniels brings a naïve charm to his portrayal of Bill Johnson, the soda shop proprietor who discovers a love for art. Joan Allen is simply amazing as Betty Parker, the perfect sitcom wife and mother, who suddenly finds herself unfulfilled by her role in the universe. Joan Allen’s performance is really something special in the film ‘PLEASANTVILLE,’ and was definitely more deserving and recognition than it received at the time of the nominations. George Parker [William H. Macy[ delivers a performance that is both humorous and touching, especially as the idealised sitcom husband and father. Finally, there is the late, great J.T. Walsh who portrays Big Bob as PLEASANTVILLE’s smiling mayor who tries to hold on to his way of life with a fascist zeal. Like the film’s cinematography, J.T. Walsh’s final performance is a perfect study in contrast and not to be missed. First time director Gary Ross certainly got the best from his cast, but then again his terrific screenplay made it easy for his cast to inhabit his sharply drawn characters. Ross has also beautifully staged PLEASANTVILLE, creating compositions that effectively places colour into a black-and-white frame, all too good effect.

Director Gary Ross has assembled an incredible cast of actors, who were at the time of the film’s release were not so well-known but are all now immensely talented, and everyone gives an incredible performance, but there are some real standouts. Tobey Maguire is effortlessly lovable in the lead, as he always is, and Reese Witherspoon is hysterical as the cynic who learns about real passion from a D.H. Lawrence book. William H. Macy brings real emotion and depth to his character, especially in the final moments of the film, and Jeff Daniels, as the local soda jerk, comes off as sweet and charmingly innocent. In his final performance, J.T. Walsh demonstrates exactly why he was great: because he was eerily prickly the only he could be. Joan Allen, though, looks like the one who would get the Oscar nomination out of the lot. She brings true emotion and creativity to her role of the housewife who learns about passion early on, and tries her best to deal with it, demonstrating that she may possibly be the greatest actress in her age demographic working today. And my favourite moment is when David and his new girlfriend drive from the black-and-white road into Lover's Lane, where everything is in vibrant colours, and then later it rains for the first time and that is what movie magic are all about and especially this very unique film.

One of the things I liked best about PLEASANTVILLE is that while it entertains with its quirky plot and stunning visuals, it also made me think. Too few movies manage to be both thought-provoking and thoroughly entertaining. PLEASANTVILLE is a tour-de-force and it's a magical, modern-day fairy tale that invites us to explore who we are, and, like ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and ‘It's a Wonderful Life,’ and it trumpets the messages that the individual can make a difference, and that life in an alternate reality isn't necessarily better, just different. There's even room for a parable about racism, when it especially states "No coloreds allowed!" Not only is the film ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ a good ironic satire, a fantasy, and a visual marvel, but it's the best kind of feel-good movie ever released in 1998.

PLEASANTVILLE MUSIC TRACK LISTING

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE [Performed by Fiona Apple]

CACHITA [Performed by Juan García Esquivel and Juan Carlos Esquivel]

THE WASTE LAND [Performed by Diamond Slim]

DREAM GIRL [Performed by Robert & Johnny]

THE GANG THAT SANG HEART OF MY HEART [Performed by Four Aces]

SPARKLE OF LOVE [Performed by Robin Bissell, Bourgeois and Bruno Coon]

BE-BOP-A-LULA [Performed by Gene Vincent]

TAKE FIVE [Performed by the Dave Brubeck Quartet]

[LET ME BE YOUR] TEDDY BEAR [Performed by Elvis Presley]

RAVE ON [Performed by Buddy Holly]

MY BLUE HEAVEN [Performed by Juan García Esquivel and Juan Carlos Esquivel]

DONNA REED SHOW THEME [Written by John Seely and William Loose]

DESTINY [Performed by Mister Jones]

MR. BLUE [Performed by Pat Boone]

LAWDY MISS CLAWDY [Performed by Larry Williams]

SIXTY THOUSAND CLAMS [Performed by Talkback]

SO WHAT [Performed and Written by Miles Davis]

AT LAST [Performed by Etta James]

Blu-ray Video Quality – New Line Cinema Blu-ray disc brings us a brilliant stunning Black-and-White and eventually Colour 1080p encoded image that looks amazing. As anyone who has seen the film can attest to, colour or lack thereof plays a significant part in the film. The black-and-white sequences really show off the power of this beautiful Blu-ray disc and with the colour combination, which is so very rare these days, that it’s easy to forget how unique the Black-and-White images can really look. Naturally this goes hand in hand with the contrast as well as with the overall black levels. Reese Witherspoon’s character says it best “I’m pasty!” But as the colour starts to emerge, we get to see and of course notice the difference in the hues and especially the shades of red, yellow, green and brown. It’s a transition that really makes the film work, and is visually-speaking and totally breath-taking all at the same time.

Blu-ray Audio Quality – New Line Cinema brings us this wonderful Blu-ray disc in giving us an audio experience in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio that is clean, crisp sonic ambience that gives lots of speaker specific action, but the back channels offer little in the way of outward audio ambience, and the music film score often seems settled somewhere in the middle of the room. There are directional audio elements here, and especially during the last act with the courtroom sequence, where we get the impression of being in a place surrounded by spectators and participants. The dialogue is delivered in a very easy to understand manner, with little of the muddle we sometimes here in such expanded format ranges. All in all this is a brilliant audio experience and full marks to New Line Cinema and Warner Home Video presentation. It is still certainly the best this film has sounded, than it was hard to detect anything notable from the original 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack found on the standard inferior DVD.

Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Audio Commentary by Writer/Director Gary Ross: Here we are introduced to Gary Ross and welcomes us to viewing the film ‘PLEASANTVILLE,’ especially with his very personal audio commentary. This was Gary Ross’s first film as a Director, and his background as a Screenwriter are strongly reflected in his attention to detail to the theme and characters in the film. We find out that ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ was a very demanding film technically, and Gary Ross makes numerous interesting observations on the film’s mixing of black-and-white and colour with cinematography. Gary Ross is also insightful in pointing out the added dimensions that the talented cast brought to his words and he also felt that the start of the film was to represent a “Video Wasteland” of a high end TV cable desert that is out there in America, until we come onto the nostalgic TV channel, which he feels is like finding something totally homely and comforting, especially for the younger generation of today whose interest only lasts a few seconds of concentration time and where everything has to be instant gratification. With the film ‘PLEASANTVILLE,’ writer/director Gary Ross says, “This is my third movie, of finding a high concept premise, which maybe obvious, even more familiar and sort of seeing where it goes in a deeper way.” Gary Ross also comments that the TV programme Tobey Maguire is watching, he wanted it to look staged and camp at the same time to be on the extreme side of not looking like real life. When you see Joan Allen look straight at the camera and say, “What’s a Mother to do,” was suggested by Joan to say those prophetic words, which Gary felt was so right and was also on par with his love of French Farce comedy. When you see the TV Repair Man appear out of the blue, Gary felt Don Knotts was so ideal and also feels he is a phenomenal actor and is extremely funny and was a thrill to work with him, because he felt he was a very professional and was also great to work with. Gary also points out that he originally wanted to shoot the TV programme PLEASANTVILLE as a sitcom, but decided to abandon that idea, but instead wanted to show us what it was actually like to be in an actual black-and-white sitcom for real, but with a modern filming technique, to give it a more realistic look. Also we are told there is a great deal of cultural references throughout the film, because Gary feels it is about ones memory of the past, and especially the look of Rees Witherspoon when she first glimpses the basket Ball Team leader in his car, which is exactly the sort of thing you would see in Teenager Films in the 1950s, and so Rees Witherspoon soon forgets it is not all “Nerds Ville” and also feels this is not a bad place to live in. Something I found very interesting is that Gary points out that whenever we see the Test Card on the TV screen that is behind the TV Repair Man talking each time to Tobey, because if you look carefully there is a Native American at the top left hand of the screen and also at the bottom right hand of the screen, over time you see him with different expressions and near the end of the film you will see he is crying, which sort of reflects the TV repair man’s attitude in getting more and more angry in messing up his project, which Gary feels is a very clever subtle observation in how things are progressing throughout the film. When we are in the court room scene and Tobey wins the case, a young man comes through the door and asks people to come and look outside where it is now in full colour and Gary points out that this was a very tough technical challenge and informs us they went from digitized images to full colour negative, which has slightly higher degree of resolution, and they had to make sure the saturation levels were ramped up slowly to give greater clarity, which was kind of a very tough thing to do. Near the end of the film we see Tobey says goodbye to his sister who is going off to University and a new life, and Gary Ross the director thought this was her new future, especially when the door of the bus opens for her, and allows us to end her story in the film, especially when the doors of the bus close behind her and her new life begins. Then we see Tobey back in the house in saying goodbye to Margaret, his new young lady who gives him some goodies to take back to his original home, and here it now shows us that Tobey has really grown up to be someone so much better before when he was zapped into PLEASANTVILLE. Then we see Joan Allen saying a sad emotional goodbye to her new son who has altered her life for good and showing her new beginning and Gary Ross informs us that choosing Joan Allen was the best choice he made to have this brilliant actress in the film, as he thinks Joan Allen is one of the best actress around and gave her best performance in this film and I agree with Gary 100%. But when we see Tobey with his real Mother, who is in an emotional state and where we see Tobey reassures his Mother he really likes her in who she is and tells Tobey that he really has grown up, and I feel that is the most pivotal moment in the film and is also a very special emotional point in the film and a really great end to a brilliant tour-de-force film. As we finally get to the end of the film and the credits start to roll up the screen and we hear the song ACROSS THE UNIVERSE in the background, we finally get Gary Ross to sum up his audio commentary by saying, “I think it is an inspired kind of cosmic cacophony going on that song, it is about being open to so many beautiful wild and conflicting things in the Universe,” Gary then says, “Restless wind inside a letterbox, you know that tumble blindly as they make their way across the Universe. It is about this big windy kind of cosmic entity and that is a great thing and yet the chorus stands in stark juxtaposition of that and nothing is going to change my world, the verses are saying pools of sorrow, waves of joy, and that’s just I think is the tension of the movie in a fantastic way, that there is a big huge wide open contradictory, confusing, wonderful world out there, and at the same time we are very scared to engage it, and that is the central tension of the piece and we do a whole lots of things we don’t engage it, we make rules and we make cultures and we make stereo types and we make morals and we make all sorts of things to make ourselves feel better or safer, when in fact we are only making ourselves less alive and if the movie is about anything, it is ultimately about taking a risk to tear those things down, and how scary that might be, and how unsettling it might be, and to open up to random nature of things, and to get past our fear, which I don’t judge, which I think is understandable, because we all have that fear, and I also have that fear, but, it is something we have to work through, or try to, in order to live as satisfying life as possibly can.” As we get to the finale, Gary says, “Thank you very much, I hope I passed the audition (laughs out loud). But in the words of Warner Bros. “That’s All Folks!” Despite some verbose rambling from Gary Ross the director, some of his words of wisdom were very profound and poignant in reflection towards the film he directed, which I felt was beautiful presented and very thought provoking audio commentary, well done Gary Ross and don’t take any notice of all those people who have criticised this audio commentary.

Special Feature: Isolated Music Score with Audio Commentary by Composer Randy Newman: Here the composer Randy Newman introduces himself and informs us that he composed the film music score for the film ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ because he really like the script and also liked the director Gary Ross and classes him as a really good friend. This is one of the most memorable and distinctive audio commentary tracks I have ever heard, because Randy Newman is one of a kind. Except for music, Randy Newman takes nothing and nobody seriously, especially not himself and he is very cynical about directors, though not about Gary Ross, but sadly dubious about the state of contemporary film music and never entirely certain whether his music is actually contributing anything, no matter how hard he’s worked on it, and constantly second-guesses himself, but still says he would rather write a film music score than any other kind of music and after all, it is the family business, which of course includes Cousin Thomas Newman’s film music scores included ‘WALL-E,’ ‘American Beauty’ and ‘The Shawshank Redemption,’ and his Cousin David Newman’s music film scores which includes ‘Serenity’ and ‘Galaxy Quest.’ Uncle Alfred Newman (1901 – 1970) gained a considerable amount of Oscar statues to his collection, which included for films like ‘The King and I,’ ‘Camelot,’ ‘Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing’ and ‘The Song of Bernadette.’ Randy Newman talks about the concept music used at the start of the film which he did not score that is played when we see all the old black-and-white TV programmes flash onto the screen and felt they were very bland and lacking in any emotions. Also Randy informs us that at the time of composing the music for the film ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ he was also composing the music film score for the animated film ‘A BUG’S LIFE,’ and always hope the director would give him ten weeks to come up with the finished film score, but luckily most times he is given an eight weeks grace, which with all his works is very pleased with the results. With the Randy Newman audio commentary he speaks during pauses between the music cues, but when the ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ composed music comes in, you hear in the background an unidentified voice is heard, which I suspect is the technicians informing Randy Newman when the composed music should come in for that part of the film. Throughout the film Randy Newman explains in great detail why he composed the certain types of the music for specific scenes in the film and it really makes you appreciate the work of the composer of film music scores and Randy Newman really makes you appreciate the music he composed for the film ‘PLEASNTVILLE.’ Also Randy Newman talks extensively about all other different composers that he is a massive fan of who also composes for different genres and it is fascinating hearing him praise for the different composers that he informs us of and a lot of them are brilliant heroes to Randy Newman and to find who they are you will have to listen to this particular audio commentary. On top of all that Randy Newman also praises some of his favourite films he has enjoyed composing for, especially like ‘A BUG’S LIFE’ and the ‘TOY STORY’ animated films. As the credits appear on the screen informing us that the end of the film is near, Randy Newman makes a few poignant comments by saying, “Quite a few composers have had their film scores thrown out, like jerry Goldsmith had two or three film scores thrown out, Elmer Bernstein had here in a row thrown out, and that makes me feel better, and jobs and life and death is for me and more important than my family or when I am doing it, doing my best by the movie is important thing in my life, to the exclusion of anything else, and nothing gets in my way of my putting in as many hours as I think I got to put in. Same is true of whatever work I do, you know, and people always talking about first comes God, then my family, then me, then my work. Thank you very much and thank you for putting up with whatever pedantry and bragging I might of done with general statements about music that I have made, and I leave you with a suite of music from ‘PLEASANTVILLE,’ which was a pleasure to do because it was a pleasure to do because it was a very decent movie.” And I of course second this as well 100%, in fact I think it is the most brilliant and thought provoking film I have seen in a very long time. Also hearing this audio commentary by Randy Newman was quit fascinating hearing his views in general, especially hearing his views on composing film scores, as well as other composers he admires as his heroes, but unfortunately Randy Newman is very verbose and does tend to ramble on a bit with lots of titbits of information in general that is sometime not towards the film, but overall it was really nice to hear Randy Newman talking in a very natural way and it was like if Randy Newman was talking to me face to face and it would be really great to meet Randy Newman in person. So all in all, this is quite a fascinating audio commentary. This audio commentary track by Randy Newman is a significant massive improvement over the inferior DVD audio track.

Special Feature: The Art of PLEASANTVILLE: Behind the Story [1999] [480i] [1.33:1] [32:37] Here we get interviews with various people responsible for the look of the film, as well as the Cinematographer. It primarily focuses on PLEASANTVILLE's brilliant visual effects; this fairly engaging documentary covers everything from The Special Effects; Shooting The Film; Printing The Film; The Storyboards and we also get to hear what the actors saw with the Make-up Off, and hear how the team used technology to bring the film to life and what the public saw on the silver screen. We also find out that there were well over 1700 digital effects and also the highest number of visual effects shots more than any other movie that had been made at the time and it took the well over a year in producing all the special visual effects and took up to 7,000 gigabytes of information. We also find out that the lighting for the Black-and-White scenes is so totally different for the Colour scenes. Also we find out there were loads of technical challenges at the Laboratory, especially to get the right balance of the Black-and-White and Colour images, and also the printing of the film was a very difficult challenge. Frank Romero was the artist who created the brilliant mural on the wall, which we actually see in his studio. Near the end of this special feature we see the mural in Black-and-White and gradually Colour starts to appear and with the composed music in the background building up, I can tell you it is a very emotional moment and a fitting end to this very nice documentary.

Special Feature: ACROSS THE UNIVERSE: Fiona Apple McAfee-Maggart [Music Video] [1998] [1080p] [1.37:1] [4:30] This Music Video is a cover version of The Beatle's hit song, and was directed by Paul Thomas Anderson in the diner used in the film ‘PLEASANTVILLE.’ The video is in Black-and-White and shows a gang of young people demolishing a restaurant, while we see Fiona Apple McAfee-Maggart singing around the destructive carnage. Fiona Apple McAfee-Maggart is an American singer-songwriter, pianist and record producer.

Theatrical Trailer [1998] [1080p] [1.78:1] [2:31] This is the original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ and is a great presentation in showing off the Black-and-White images with scenes from the film, which of course the images eventually changes to Colour, and definitely gives the flavour of what to expect when you get to see the actual film.

Finally, ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ [1998] is one of the few recent Hollywood films out there that has used new digital technology to truly engage the viewer, and make possible a thoughtful story. Not only do you find yourself eagerly examining every scene for new traces of colour within a previously monochrome palette, but there's excitement too in watching each character's reaction to the changes. Ingeniously conceived and impressively executed, ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ is a provocative, complex and surprisingly anti-nostalgic parable wrapped in the beguiling guise of a commercial high-concept comedy. ‘PLEASANTVILLE’ is an amazing film, but be sure to have your Kleenex tissues handy near the end of the film, as I know you will shed a few emotional tears. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado
Le Cinema Paradiso
United Kingdom
3 people found this helpful
Simon ButlerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 October 2018
5.0 out of 5 stars
Can be played on a Region B player
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I’ll assume that those looking at this have made up their own minds about the film itself, and just reassure anyone who’s in any doubt that yes, this Blu-ray disc can be played on a UK player. Though for some reason it is not stated anywhere on the disc or the box, it appears to be region free, despite being intended for sale in the US.

The technical quality is good. An excellent transfer.
One person found this helpful
ElleReviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 January 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Highly underrated!
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When people ask me to name some underrated films, this always comes to mind. Even though it's rather early on in both Maguire and Witherspoon's careers, they are absolutely fantastic. Macy is absolutely superb and the rest of the cast are all good as well. The story is powerful. At the start of the film it could of gone either of two ways. A simple I got stuck in the TV/different world film or something much deeper, and to my delight it took the deeper path. The morals in this story are brilliant - be free and be happy is a lesson everyone needs to remember. I thoroughly enjoyed the return to colour, as a metaphor and as a photographic tool. It really made the film stand out as a true gem.

I highly recommend this film to anyone and I implore you to give it a chance even if you find the basic premise a little far fetched. The second half of the film is fantastic and well worth it.
6 people found this helpful
M. WilsonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 03 December 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Arty without being pretentious
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This film for some reason has been overlooked and lost.I only found out about it by accident,1999 brought some great movies, American Beauty, Castaway, the 6th sense, magnolia etc. This was completely overlooked the premise is simple,
two 90's teenagers are transported back to the 1950's via a remote control. They enter a world that is black and white and restricted. Bit by bit it is transformed it into a colourful and vibrant place. It is visually stunning and well acted by all.
Featuring a small role by the now late Paul Walker. It would have been easy to have taken the teenagers back to the fifties and portrayed it as a bed of roses, but they really didn't patronise the viewer by saying it was all better back then without the 'evils' of modern day. My favourite parts are when Pleasantville is half black and white, half colour, it is really quite impressive how they managed to achieve the effects. I don't often give a movie 5 stars, but this is worth all of them.
P. H. BurtonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 November 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A truly wonderful movie
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Pleasantville is classed as a comedy personally I would class it as a light drama with humour ,though in parts a tissue would be handy.
The special effects are wonderful and really adds to the atmosphere ,all the cast without exception are first class and it's just a wonderful story (which I wont spoil by telling you) to me it's a classic movie which could be watched by future generations and enjoy.
Service was quick and the price was almost giving it away ,more than happy with the movie and service
Dr David BellamyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 May 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
A thoroughly enjoyable film
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A funny, clever and thoughtful film that has a message; one which the film makers let the audience work out themselves. My only tiny quibble is that, in films that involve people going to strange places via unbelievable machines, it is usual for those involved to "return" with just them changed and so that only they (and the audience) know it wasn't a dream. This rule is broken. I am sort of glad that it was but I would hate to be Toby's character when his mother asks; "Oh and by the way; where is your sister?" (I can guess why they did this - the 2 main characters had to show they had changed and both needed to do something life-affirming and new at the end of the film - and Reese's character had to do hers before her brothers - his story arc began the film and so had to end it, but it still sort of felt good but wrong)
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