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  • Ironweed [Import]
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Ironweed [Import]

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Product Details

  • Actors: Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep, Carroll Baker, Michael O'Keefe, Diane Venora
  • Directors: Hector Babenco
  • Writers: William Kennedy
  • Producers: C.O. Erickson, David Weisman, Denis Blouin, Gene Kirkwood, Joseph H. Kanter
  • Format: Full Screen, NTSC, Import
  • Language: English
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • Release Date: Feb. 24 2009
  • Run Time: 143 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews

By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 8 2011
Format: DVD
No question this is a five star film. The docked star is for the DVD.

Given the weak print and media reviews, I was shocked at how moving and
poetic this portrait of street bums in the 30s was.

Streep and Nicholson are both magnificent, but the whole supporting
cast is very good.

It has flaws - it's a little overlong, there the occasional heavy
handed moment. But it's also a deeply moving portrait of lost souls
trying to find meaning in a very cold world.

The big frustration is the Region 1 DVD - for some reason it was released
full screen (4:3) and not in the original 1:85. That might have been
forgivable if the DVD had been released years ago, when that was a more
common practice, but 'Ironweed' - a visually stunning film - was
released in 2009! So there is no excuse for this inaccurate
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By Greg Dexter on April 21 2015
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 88 reviews
95 of 100 people found the following review helpful
To Comfort The Dead July 27 2000
By Mr. Cairene - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
In highschool I came across a poem called The Projectionist's Nightmare, I don't recall the name of the poet but the poem's message is still very much with me. It described a wayward bird inside a movie theatre, where an audience was watching two poeple "being nice to each other". The bird crashes into the screen, its blood slithering onto the image, the spell is broken, the fantasy dispelled and the audience screams. Hector Babenco had already made this poem in substance in 1985s Kiss Of A Spider Woman where his lead character, a prisoner, escaped his miserable surroundings through memories and fantasies of a propaganda film. Two years later Bebanco would make Ironweed, and his lead character Frances Phelan (Jack Nicholson) is well past the dreaming stage, the only fantasies he has are of ghosts from his past.
Ironweed is a film many people would find slow. Nothing much happens and the characters don't change. The stark grim atmosphere and the dead end conditions unrelenting. There is no hope in the story of Frances Phelan. He has abandoned his family 22 years ago after dropping his 13 year old baby to its death. The film starts with him visiting his dead baby's grave for the first time, and then follows him around as he joins his companion Helen Archer (Meryl Streep) and his friend of sorts Rudy (Tom Waits). All three of them are alcoholics, and we watch as they wade through the alleys of Albany 1938 looking for a place to sleep . They get robbed, they see a homeless prostitute from Alaska die of cold and they get into fights. But there is no emotional release in their anger or in their better moments. You'd expect there to be emancipated joy when Streep sings in a bar in front of a full house, or rage when a bunch of kids rob them of all their money. But Streep is quickly back to her depression, and Nicholson shrugs off the robbery. All the characters in Ironweed are infact dead, they live off their memories, do what they have to do to stay alive as they await their physical death. Meanwhile there are quietly affecting scenes of closure as Nicholson visits his abandoned family and Streep remember her "musical days". Nicholson's and Streep's Oscar nominated performance are among their best.
Babenco holds his camera on his characters for a long time, as if waiting for them to crack. They never do because Ironweed is not angry, it doesn't have an agenda, it is just mournful. As I watched it for the first time tonight I became aware that the episodic cyclic nature of the film develops in the end to a complete whole. When the end credits roll you feel like you were standing too close to a painting, and now for the first time you are far enough to see it for the sad beautiful image it is. The famed author John Fowles said that we are all poets but few of us can write it. From the rhetorical dialogue of these hobos, the ugly poverty they endure, the dark allyways they inhabit and the ghosts that haunt them, Ironweed emerges as a sad and deeply affecting poem.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
This Title Is NOT Pan And Scan Feb. 27 2009
By Butch Johnson - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Before everyone freaks out about the aspect ratio, be aware that this film was shot flat and hard matted at 1.85:1 for its theatrical run (I know because I was a projectionist who ran it back in '87). In a nutshell, this means that it was shot at 1.33:1 and then shown with an aperture plate cutting off the top and bottom so it fit the theatre screen.

The version on this DVD is full frame. There are doubtlessly small bits of the sides cut off, but much more is shown at the top and bottom. Is this the way the director intended it to be seen? I don't know (some directors such as Kubrick preferred full frame). I'd be happier knowing what Hector Babenco's thoughts were on the release, but at least the film's not a 2.35:1 pic that really IS pan and scan and missing lots of peripheral info.

And more importantly, I'm happy to have the damn film in ANY ratio on DVD finally.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Non-OAR Release! Product Details are Correct! Feb. 21 2009
By M. Orlando - Published on
Format: DVD
This film has been released for the first time on DVD in a horrid Full Screen only version. Not sure why, but I thought the days of non-original aspect ratio releases were over. Apparently not.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Fullscreen (NOT ANY MORE) Feb. 9 2009
By Steve Perlowski - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a great film. Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson were given a great story (by William Kennedy), and they responded with greatness. I've been waiting for it to come out in DVD, largely because my VHS copy is a pan-and-scan, fullscreen (1.33:1) version, and this film deserves to be seen in its glorious widescreen (1.85:1) theatrical version. Unfortunately, the "product details" indicate that this DVD is "fullscreen", and it has been confirmed (2-24-09) by two people (Neil and Brad) that it is the fullscreen version. [Brad even commented that it looked like a copy of the old VHS pan-and-scan tape].

August '09 EDIT: Butch Johnson, a projectionist, gave the film a 3 star rating (on Feb. 27, 2009); he commented that this film was originally filmed in a fullscreen (1.33 : 1) aspect ratio, and "cropped" on the top and bottom for commercial "widescreen" theatrical distribution. Comparing this fullscreen version with the widescreen version (which can be seen on youtube in installments, numbered: 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.) Mr. Johnson's claim appears quite valid. Consequently, although there's certainly something to be said for a film that fills our widescreen television screens, this DVD does not appear to be a pan-and-scan; it actually lets us see more of the "original" film, in--paradoxically--a smaller "blackboxed" 4X3 area.

UPDATE APRIL 2013: Hosanna! The Bluray widescreen (1:77:1) version of this film is vastly superior to the previously released fullscreen version. As mentioned in my two previous paragraphs, the top and the bottom of this newer version have been trimmed, but the film is now available the way the director intended, and it packs a much stronger wallop. The video quality of the bluray version is greatly improved, and it makes for a considerably richer movie experience. Enjoy!
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
A VERY GOOD MOVIE June 15 2005
By M. R. Sheffield - Published on
No, this is not a typical Nicholson project, but it's the better for that. I mean -- "About Schmidt" or "Ironweed" -- the former is good, the latter nearly great. The fact that Nicholson is playing so off-character makes this a role well worth seeing him in. Streep is good, Tom Waits is GREAT as Rudy. The film is not for depressives, however. PLEASE RELEASE THIS IMPORTANT FILM IN DVD FORMAT!! With all the toppings, please.

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