The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Read Keith Hennessey Brown's film review of The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner
The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner

This Region 2 DVD from BFI presents the film in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. While the print shows the inevitable scratches and damage that one would expect from a 40-year-old feature, these never overshadow the overall quality of the transfer, which copes very well with the range of tones, film stocks and lighting levels deployed by Lassally.

The cinematographer's contribution is spotlighted in the first of the extras, an 18 minute masterclass featurette, in which he dissects a number of scenes from the film, explaining how and why a particular look was achieved. I appreciated especially the ironies of how the scenes showing the evil television were put together - in the days before video, the only way they could synch the image on the TV screen was to project film onto a dummy TV - along with the use of exclusively London and Home Counties locations, instead of authentic Northern English locales, with Camber Sands doubling for Skegness.

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The commentary, featuring contributions from film historian Robert Murphy, along with writer Alan Sillitoe and star Tom Courtenay, is clearly made up of separate pieces, edited together afterwards. As such, it lacks the repartee element of the fireside chat style, tending instead towards a dry, more academic approach. Then again, this is perhaps the appropriate format for a BFI disc, given the organisation's educational remit. Dryness aside, the commentary is illuminating on almost all aspects of the production, with the contrast between personal reminiscences of those involved and the outside expert a welcome one.

The quality package is neatly wrapped with short profiles of Richardson, Sillitoe and the Free Cinema movement, a picture gallery (albeit only four images) and a link to relevant pages on the BFI's web site.

Reviewed on: 11 Apr 2003
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The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner packshot
A rebellious teen gets preferential treatment in borstal after they discover he has a talent for running.
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Product Code: BFIVD511

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.66:1

Sound: Dolby Digital

Extras: Feature commentary by Robert Murphy, Alan Sillitoe and Tom Courtenay; video essay by cinematographer Walter Lassally; biographies of Alan Sillitoe and Tony Richardson, stills gallery.

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