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Charro - Scandinavian Edition

By Henryk MatraszekMar 8, 2003
A couple of weeks ago Danish Salut Audio & Video released “Charro!” on DVD. This marks the first region 2 release of the movie (it was released in the US in 2002). At last the European fans should be able to enjoy Elvis’ 29th movie in the superior audio and video quality that the digital video discs offer. But is there really anything superior and enjoyable about the release?

The artwork of the DVD leaves a lot to be desired. There are two pictures used on the front cover (there are none on the back) one from the actual movie, the other from “Love Me Tender”. The last one was also a western starring Elvis, but that is where the similarities between the two end. The disc itself is a picture one reflecting the cover’s image.

The back offers a short summary of Elvis’ film career as well as a few sentences about the movie itself (comparing it to Clint Eastwood/Sergio Leone spaghetti-westerns) plus some technical information i.e.: running time (1h 38min.), certificate (‘U’ although in my opinion PG would have been a better choice), subtitles (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian and Finnish), screen ratio (4:3), audio (Dolby digital, mono) and the usual copyrights warning.

When we put the disc into our player we are presented with a very important piece of information that reads, “picture and sound scratch – dropouts can happen during scanning from the best original material available”. “Isn’t this piece of information given too late? Haven’t we already bought the product? Shall I start to worry now? Isn’t the mediocre artwork the worst part of this release?” you may ask yourself. No, unfortunately it is not…
The DVD menu is not of a good quality either as we can only choose to play the movie, select the chapters (there are three, yes three (!) of them to choose from, despite the fact that the movie itself is divided into 31 units), and the subtitles. The funny, or rather very annoying, thing is that in after having chosen the “no subtitles” option we are still to follow (or bear) the Danish ones!?

But as long as the movie itself is why we have purchased the DVD, let us forget the bad and wait for the good…hopefully…
For the DVD-quality freaks pressing the PLAY button on your remote may equal with a heart attack. What we are about to experience is a breath-holding mixture of scratches, dropouts and hisses that immediately make us suffer. You cannot even enjoy the title song, as there are several mysterious “jumps” in the main titles as if somebody wanted to x-ray parts of the lyrics. Fortunately, when Elvis appears on the screen, the “jumps” end. On the sad note only the “jumps” end, as all the other quality defects are present until the last minute of the picture. Sometimes they are less annoying, sometimes more, but what does not change is that they do annoy you for all 98 minutes of the presentation. Even if you manage to get used to the picture quality after some time, the sound still bothers you as it is sometimes real hard to understand the dialogues unless you are the native speaker of English or any of the Scandinavian languages (then the subtitles are of an invaluable help).

To conclude, I must confess I have mixed feelings concerning the release. On one hand it is great to have another Elvis’ movie on DVD (one of his better 60’s roles, at least in my opinion), on the other, both picture and (especially) sound quality made you hate it. As one of the very few advantages of this DVD is its price, that circulates at about $10, you have to make your own decision whether to acquire a copy of it or not, however if you own a decent video copy of the movie I would suggest you stick to it and wait for a proper DVD release of it. But “will you live to see tomorrow”? …
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