The Outsiders - The Complete Novel is a brilliant new realization of Francis Ford Coppola’s earlier film. When the original came out in the early 1980s, Warner Bros. felt the film was too long and they asked Francis to basically “solve the problem.” So Coppola decamped to the editing room and cut out a lot of the early and ending story of this movie. Basically, instead of focusing on the gang who makes up the cover of this DVD box set, the film simply focused more on the characters of Ponyboy, Johnny and Dallas. Over the years, Coppola had received many requests that he restore the film and with the advent of DVD, this idea suddenly became plausible.
This new version of the film isn’t just an extended cut. It is a different movie. It will satisfy old fans of the movie and those who are also fans of the book. It is so complete in it’s reimagining that it plays with the same weightiness as Coppola’s other reworking, Apocalypse Now Redux. While truthfully, I prefer the original version of that film, I find that I like both versions of The Outsiders equally. I think that they both serve different purposes, but at the end of the day the films are rich explorations of teenagers. The emotions and issues they deal with are a cut above a lot of today’s teen fare, and there is such an honest, truthful portrayal of emotions.
I have been waiting a long time to own The Outsiders - The Complete Novel on DVD. I can emphatically say that after all this time, the wait to add this 2 disc collection to my DVD rack has been well worth it.
Coppola disappointed me a little bit. I expected more stories and more personal accounts, but he just seemed to rehash a lot of things I already knew. Granted, I have gone out of my way to gain information on this film (and the DVD itself), so it’s probably my fault. As for the other commentary track which features Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio and Patrick Swayze this is great. Hearing all these actors recount these times is something that I think is truly special. Sure, some of the actors ham it up at times (namely Swayze and Howell), but I really enjoyed listening to this.
Staying Gold: Making of Documentary; The Casting of The Outsiders ion in Tulsa
“Staying Gold” and “The Casting of The Outsiders” are “must views” for anybody who is a fan of this movie, or even just those people who know some of the lore and myth behind it. When you consider the merging of the old and new Hollywood that took place to bring this film to life, it really is amazing how this movie came together. Truthfully, these are segments that I could watch again and again simply because they are so rich and interesting. The “S.E. Hinton” piece is also something I enjoyed, mainly because this women has been a mystery to me my entire life. I first saw this movie when I was 10 and then a few years later I started reading her books. The impact she has had on me as young writer is incredible, and truthfully, I am still revisiting her work now as I have made my own “Outsider’s inspired” film, 1985-1986.
10 Minutes of Additional Scenes; Readings; NBC News Segment
These additional scenes, which have been cleaned up as best as they possibly could, are also something that longtime fans of this film will appreciate. While some people may wonder why they are on here (and they seem to repeat themselves in spots), overall I really am happy that Zoetrope has included as much as they have. The “Readings” are some of the actors reading select passages from the book, and the NBC News Segment focuses on the kids (a few years later) who wrote the initial petition to get Coppola to make the book into a movie. This 2 disk set is honestly as comprehensive as they possibly could have made it, so maybe I can’t fault Francis too much for being repetitive on the commentary track.
Widescreen Version. Presented in a “Letterbox” Widescreen Format preserving the “scope” aspect ratio of it’s original theatrical exhibition. Enhanced for widescreen TVs. I positively love the Cinemascope look of this movie. I have often told people that why this movie works so well is because it actually looks like it is a movie from the time of which it is based. I never really noticed the depth and scope of the film until I really started examining the earlier version. Everything about this movie is big even though the locations and subject matter is smaller and personal. We aren’t dealing with sweeping vistas, but rather vacant lots and run down homes. Still, everything looks lush and real as if Coppola is showing us that these characters may not have money, yet they still have their nobility and will fight for what is theirs.
Dolby Digital. English: Dolby Surround 5.1. Sadly, I think some of the bigness of the original version is lost with the addition of the new soundtrack. I know what Coppola was going for, and while I can understand it, so much of the movie really seemed to hang on the melodramatic score. I know that at times it may have seemed a tad too big or weighty, but I really feel that the score was something that shouldn’t have been separated from the film. However, with both versions of this movie still in existence, it is my hope that people that see this new version, will want to see the older version so that they can compare the two. Honestly, both of these DVDs can happily reside in anybody’s collection and there won’t be any need to feel like a consumer is being redundant of they own them. I know I don’t.
The original picture of the cast has remained on the front cover. They even explain the story behind this. The DVD case is housed in a cardboard cover which has a picture on the back (before the rumble at the end), a description of the movie, an extensive extras listing, cast list and technical specs. The case has some different pictures on the back cover and the two discs that make up this set are housed neatly inside. This set has the literary feel of the novel. It isn’t too big or daunting but it’s important. It feels special and this alone is what will help set this movie apart from the other options on the DVD shelf.
In this new version, I really think that Ralph Macchio’s turn as Johnny Cade is the one that stands out the most. There has been a lot of talk of Rob Lowe really getting his moment to shine, and while I think his new scenes are good, I just feel that Macchio really showed his acting chops. Everyone in this movie is very good, and the added scenes really do add a lot more weight and gravity to this film, but from a purely acting standpoint, I think Macchio’s performance is clearly the breakthrough. This isn’t to say that Matt Dillon as Dallas Winston isn’t something to marvel at. Or who can forget Emilio Estevez’s humorous/serious portrayal of Two Bit? I just think that of the added footage, Johnny Cade’s characterization was brought to a whole other level.
Some people are going to have problems with this film. Mainly, I think, with Coppola’s insistence on taking out his fathers “Gone With The Wind” score, and putting in music that he thought the boys in the movie would be listening to. While I am sure that in theory this seemed like a good idea, at the end of the day, I think he may have been better served leaving the music as is. However, this new soundtrack, mixed in with the new scenes (and the overall body of the movie) really does create a wholly different yet complete film viewing experience.