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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Gay > Art > Politics > Civil Rights > Before Stonewall/After Stonewall (1985/1999/First Run DVD Set) + David Hockney – A Bigger Picture (2009/First Run DVD) + Word Is Out (1977/Milliarium Zero DVD)

Before Stonewall/After Stonewall (1985/1999/First Run DVD Set) + David Hockney – A Bigger Picture (2009/First Run DVD) + Word Is Out (1977/Milliarium Zero DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+ (Before: C)     Extras: C/C+/B/B    Documentaries: B/B-/B/B



A new wave of DVDs on Gay subject matter has arrived recently, including a reissue of two documentaries First Run issued separately, which we covered as such at these links:


Before Stonewall



After Stonewall




Then we have a sequel of sorts to Jack Hazan’s David Hockney documentary A Bigger Splash (1975), the original of which we reviewed a while ago as well:





Long after his love affair has ended, Hockney is still painting classic canvases and trying to apply his talents and unique form of visual representation to other visual medium when he is joined by Director/Narrator Bruno Wollheim for three years in what turned into the new documentary David Hockney - A Bigger Picture (2009) and though it only lasts an hour, it is very good, though it should have been longer and the deleted footage included in the extras proves this, but this marks Hockney’s return to England and his paintings go from simple canvases to some of the most ambitious works of his career.  It is amazing to see the man at work and to see a true auteur in his element in worth going out of your way for.


That leaves us going back again to what is the oldest work here, the 1977 gay documentary Word Is Out, a multiple-director project by the Mariposa Film Group in a film that brings together the testimony of many gay men and women to discuss what it is like to live in a society that was especially hateful of them before the breakthroughs (and unfortunate AIDS epidemic) changed gay life forever for the better and worst.  Before, it was easier to ignore gays, but now it is not.  What results is a key record (and rare one at that) of lives that battled to have respect and dignity in a world of uncertainty despite the gains of Stonewall.


Little did any of them know the 1980s backlash that was to come, but no one here is exactly naďve and we meet 26 people in all.  Ironic and important, the film was only restored in 2008 and could have been lost like so many orphan films of all kinds, but UCLA and others intervened and this key film has been saved and is definitely worth seeing.  Whether contrasted to today or not, it is an enduring work meant to last and the makers have succeeded.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Hockney and 1.33 X 1 image on Word are even with the Stonewall installments and all are shot on film except Hockney, which is an HD shoot with some film and video footage from other sources.  That includes imperfections on analog video, flaws on film and motion blur from the HD, but it is fine for a documentary.  Word is all shot in 16mm and thanks to the restoration, looks good for its age.  A Blu-ray might bring out even more good qualities.


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo on Hockney has its share of location sound issues and older audio, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on Word is not bad, especially for its age, but some location audio issues also exist.  Only Before Stonewall has audio problems and as compared to Word, needs a restoration of its own.


Extras on Hockney include two featurette on Hockney at work, a Making Of featurette and Leading Art Figures on Bigger Trees Near Warter, while Word adds a 2008 trailer, Afterthoughts, DVD Executive Producer David Bonnett on the film, Mariposa Film Group Remembers Peter Adair piece, Outfest PSA, Word Is Out: Then & Now Thirty Years Later documentary and restoration & DVD credits.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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