Review by Michael Jacobson
Alexis Bledel, Ben Kingsley, Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, Jonathan Jackson,
Scott Bairstow, William Hurt
Director: Jay Russell
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Walt Disney
Features: See Review
Length: 90 Minutes
Release Date: February 25, 2003
be afraid of death, Winnie…be afraid of the unlived life.”
you could live forever, would you chose to do it? It’s been an obsession of man ever since he first became
aware of his mortality, from the crux of every major religion to the Fountain of
Youth, to even the myths and legends of vampires.
But we seldom think about it beyond the instant fantasy of it all…in
truth, the answer may not be as simple as one’s first instinct.
a pretty and sweetly disarming film that examines that subject from two points
of view: those for whom immortality
is no longer a choice, and one for whom it is the biggest decision she will ever
make. It is a love story, but one
that coaxes us to think about the one subject we’d most rather not:
how finite our time is in this world.
Foster (Bledel) is a teenage girl living in the early 20th century
who is struggling with the traditions and expectations of her well-off family.
One day in the woods, she meets Jesse Tuck (Jackson), which leads to a
rather strange encounter with the rest of his family, who take her away to their
cabin in the woods, treat her well, but remain mysteriously aloof about their
romance blossoms between Winnie and Jesse, he tells her the truth that his
family has kept hidden for more than a century: the Tucks are immortal.
A mysterious bubbling spring in the heart of the forest unknowingly
granted eternal life to Jesse, his brother Miles (Bairstow), his father Angus
(Hurt) and his mother Mae (Spacek).
life without pain, or growing old, or dying?
It seems every human’s dream. But
brother Miles has a heartbreaking story to tell.
Being immortal has its own price, and never having a broken bone
doesn’t mean never having a broken heart.
Tucks have kept their secret for a hundred years, but they worry more and more
that they can’t keep it forever. A
mysterious man (Kingsley) has been tracking them for some time now, and coming
closer to uncovering the truth about the Tucks and revealing the secret that
could alter the course of all humanity.
the heart of all the emotion conflict is Winnie…does she sip from the spring
and enjoy everlasting love with Jesse? Or
will losing the pain of death cost her much more in the eternal run?
“What we Tucks do, you can’t call it living,” warns Angus.
“We just are.” They
weren’t given the choice, but she will be.
is a solid family film offering from Disney with a surprisingly serious tone.
There’s not much laughter in the movie despite moments of joy.
A mood of serious contemplation buoys the romance.
It’s not the wrong choice—in fact, just the opposite; it’s a
picture that deals with its issues as much with the head as with the heart.
it works rather beautifully. I felt
a little distant at first, but by the time the credits rolled, I realized that
this was the first movie in a VERY long time that brought me to tears.
The original book by Natalie Babbitt has been translated wonderfully for
the screen by writers Jeffery Lieber and James V. Hart, with a warm stillness
from director Jay Russell and a terrific cast.
There is a sweet chemistry between the young stars Bledel and Jackson,
who bring their characters to life with tremendous heart and make the stakes
that much higher as the tale unfolds.
resulting movie is perfect for older children and their families.
Tuck Everlasting is a solemnly thoughtful fantasy, a lilting
romance, and a philosophical drama all in one.
is a warm and beautiful anamorphic transfer from Disney, with lots of outdoor
settings, natural lighting, and few modern gimmicks to disrupt the period piece
feel. Colors are natural, fluent
and well-contained, and detail level is good throughout. Only a very few minor instances of edge enhancement are
apparent, but these are light and not distracting.
Cinematographer James L. Carter did a wonderful job in creating the
real-yet-fantastic world of the Tucks, and this disc preserves his vision
a mostly simple romantic tale, this 5.1 soundtrack offers the goods and then
some! The sounds of nature are
always around to create ambience, be they the simple wind in the trees or a
babbling brook, or the harsher and stronger vibrations of thunder or horses’
hooves. All of these give the audio
dynamic range and a nice open, natural feel.
The rear channels accentuate the action frequently, and surprisingly, the
.1 channel stays in almost constant use. This
is mostly because of the soundtrack’s coup de grace, the beautiful and potent
score by William Ross, which benefits from digital surround’s capabilities for
open orchestration. High marks.
a bad extras package here, starting with two commentaries featuring director Jay
Russell. The first, along with
screenwriter James Hart, is the more serious and studious, dealing with the
actual filming, the adaptation process, and the themes of the film.
The second, with cast members Alexis Bledel, Jonathan Jackson and Scott
Bairstow, is a little more relaxed, and frequently in Q&A form as Russell
guides his young stars through their thoughts and stories.
might appreciate the “Lessons of Tuck” feature, which, when activated, gives
you a brief introduction by Jonathan Jackson.
Then, while the film plays, it occasionally cuts back to him, as he
discusses the movie’s philosophical questions with other cast and crew
members, and some other young people who share their ideas as well.
out is a featurette with the book’s author Natalie Babbitt, which both young
and adult readers should like.