Review by Chastity Campbell
Starring: William Devane, Jane Alexander, Ross Harris,
Roxana Zal, Lukas Haas, Philip Anglim
Director: Lynne Littman
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen
Audio: Dolby Digital Mono
Features: See Review
Length: 89 Minutes
Release Date: December 7, 2004
When I saw this DVD for the first time, I couldn’t
imagine it being anything other than biblical.
Boy, was I wrong!
Testament is a very unsettling and unnerving film.
Close your eyes and imagine it’s an ordinary day, like any other.
There’s laundry to be done, the kids are screaming and dinner has yet
to be cooked. You stop for a moment
to check the message on your answering machine.
All of the sudden there is breaking news on TV.
America’s east coast has been hit with nuclear bombs.
A bright flash outside your windows momentarily blinds you. You hit the
ground and cover your head, hoping against hope it wasn’t a nuclear
bomb…unfortunately it was.
What follows is the day to day life of a post nuclear war
family. A wife and mother of three
must find a way to save herself and her children, while waiting to see if her
husband made it out of San Francisco before the bomb fell.
Okay, I don’t like death and destruction, but I do like
films that have that real to life feeling when you watch them.
This movie was filmed with a very free flowing camera style.
Some of the shooting was done off the shoulder, and really got you right
up into each characters personal space.
The film was very well written for its time period and
style. I liked the way each
character stood out on their own. It
gave each person a three dimensional feel that some other films from the same
time period always seem to lack.
Having said all that, this film really disturbed me.
Even in modern day films there is always some glimmer of hope to cling
to, whether it be figuratively or literally!
This movie was depressing and scary. However, in the same breath I can
say that this film opened my eyes and mind to the way people worried about this
type of scenario through the 60’s, 70’s, and early 80’s.
William Devane, better known for his sneaky and conniving
Greg Sumner on Knots Landing, didn’t really have a big role in this
film. He was the always-on-the-run
dad for the first fifteen to twenty minutes, then he was MIA when the bomb fell.
The stand out performance in this film was Jane
Alexander’s portrayal of Carol Wetherly.
As the wife to a missing husband, and mother to three teen/pre-teen
children, she really went through just about every high and low a character can
experience…the rage and frustration of not knowing what happened to her
husband, and the pain and suffering of watching all the people around her die
one by one from disease, starvation, and radiation poisoning.
Jane did a wonderful job bringing all of these emotions
forward in a way that didn’t require words for you to empathize with her
character. You could see the pain
etched on her face as the days stretched into weeks, then months.
While this isn’t a movie I would pop in and watch over
and over again, it was interesting from a historical point of view.
This film’s transfer to the digital realm was okay.
The 1.85:1 widescreen format was nice, but the colors seemed a bit dull
and flat throughout. Shading and lighting was part of the problem, but you can’t
discount the age of the print before its transfer.
I realize the types of special effects available at the
time this movie was made were limited. However,
this film has a very low budget look to it from start to finish, and nothing but
a remake can change that.
When I review a DVD’s audio, there are a few things that always stand out for me: the soundtrack,and whether or not the levels remain consistent throughout. The Dolby Digital Mono mix on this DVD was neither spectacular, nor was it horrifying. The average dialogue was accompanied by average audio levels, and an average soundtrack.
There was a little bit of low end hiss in the background,
but nothing that is unbearable.
The extra features on this DVD were mind blowing…well
okay, not mind blowing, but they really packed a punch!
There is a “Testament: 20 years later,”
featurette that brings together some of the actors and the director to discuss
the film itself, and the message it contained.
“Testament: Nuclear Thoughts,” is a very
interesting featurette. You get to
take a look at an instructional film called Duck & Cover.
This film was put together back in the 50’s in order to demonstrate
what to do in the event of a nuclear attack.
Various people share their opinions on how things were, and still are.
“Timeline Of The Nuclear Age,” is a Star Wars-esque
screen scroll taking you through the history of nuclear evolution.
This DVD wasn’t exploding with extras, but I doubt there
will be any fallout over the ones it does contain!