The Departed appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Across the board, the transfer looked good.
Only minor issues affected sharpness. A little light edge enhancement resulted in some mild softness during wide shots. Otherwise the flick was consistently crisp and well-defined. I noticed no shimmering or jagged edges, and source flaws caused no distractions.
Departed went with a fairly subdued palette. The colors appeared accurate and full within the movie’s design, as the tones were always tight and clear. Blacks also seemed deep and firm, while shadows demonstrated good clarity and definition. Without the mild softness, this would have been an “A”-level transfer.
Though the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Departed never excelled, it filled out the action reasonably well. Despite the many crime-related sequences, the soundfield remained pretty chatty and music-oriented. These used the front channels well, and ambience also added to the proceedings. A smattering of louder sequences brought out nice involvement from the surrounds, but don’t expect them to dazzle. They worked as fairly minor participants most of the time.
Audio quality was positive. Speech occasionally sounded a little metallic, but the lines were always intelligible and usually appeared natural. Music depended on the source. Scores was vivid and full, and most of the songs followed suit, though they had some ups and downs. Effects seemed accurate and distinctive. While nothing about the audio stood out as particularly memorable, the mix succeeded for the film.
DVD One opens with some Previews. We find ads for The Painted Veil, The Reaping and Blood Diamond. It also includes the trailer for Departed.
This leaves most of the extras on DVD Two. Stranger Than Fiction: The True Story of Whitey Bulger, Southie and The Departed runs 21 minutes and five seconds. It includes interviews with director Martin Scorsese, Massachusetts State Police Major (Rtd.) Tom Duffy, Boston Globe reporters Shelley Murphy, Emily Sweeney and Kevin Cullen, state representative/author Brian Wallace, screenwriter William Monahan, Whitey Bulger’s former top lieutenant Kevin Weeks, A Criminal and an Irishman author Patrick Nee, former pastor of St Augustine’s Church Msgr. Thomas McDonnell, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg.
“Fiction” looks at the tale of Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger and its parallels with The Departed’s Frank Costello. We get notes about the story’s adaptation and the South Boston setting, performances, and a few other filmmaking elements.
However, “Fiction” mostly concentrates on Bulger’s exploits. It provides a reasonably informative and concise look at the person behind the Costello character, all of which prove quite interesting for viewers of the film. I’d have preferred a documentary with a little greater length and depth, but this one offers some stimulating elements.
Next comes the TCM documentary Scorsese on Scorsese. Created in 2004, the show runs one hour, 25 minutes and 42 seconds. It offers clips from Scorsese films along with archival materials and the director’s comments about his work and life. We start with some memories of his childhood and his family before we move through his early love of movies and their influence on him. The majority of the show follows Scorsese’s films through 2004’s The Aviator, though it omits a few of them; we hear nothing about 1977’s New York New York, 1985’s After Hours, 1986’s The Color of Money, and 1999’s Bringing Out the Dead, and the piece offers only a glancing reference to 1995’s Casino. The director discusses the flicks in a variety of ways such as themes and personal importance as well as nuts and bolts like cast, performances and staging.
I like the simple format of the program and think that this allows the piece to prosper. Scorsese knows his work well and offers nice insights into his career. The show acts both as an interesting overview as well as a rich examination of important issues connected to Scorsese’s life and work.
Crossing Criminal Cultures goes for 24 minutes and features remarks from Scorsese, DiCaprio, Damon, Duffy, Nee, Cullen, John Jay College of Criminal Justice forensic psychologist Dr. Louis B. Schlesinger, actor Alec Baldwin, and Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers. “Cultures” looks at Scorsese’s “Little Italy” upbringing and its impact on his viewpoint. We also hear a little about the gangster flicks that influenced him as a kid. Scorsese discusses how references to those movies appeared in his later work, and we learn about the evolution of gangster flicks over the years. We find some coverage of violence in Scorsese’s films and various themes.
I really enjoyed many parts of “Cultures”. It’s fascinating to see the shots from the old films and watch their echoes in Scorsese’s own efforts. The parts about Scorsese’s upbringing mostly repeat notes from “Scorsese on Scorsese”, so they’re less valuable, but they still make sure we grasp the basics. Overall, “Cultures” proves to be quite interesting.
Nine Additional Scenes fill a total of 19 minutes, 12 seconds; that running time includes non-optional introductions by Scorsese. The DVD presents the scenes as one long piece with no chapter markers, so you can’t easily skip from one to another. That’s awkward and somewhat frustrating.
As for the content itself, the scenes are largely insubstantial. We see a little more of Alec Baldwin, which is a good thing, and a few sequences go on a bit longer. This means extra character depth in some ways, and I like the flashback to young Billy and his dad. Still, the scenes don’t add much in general. Scorsese’s intros are useful, as he sets up the segments and lets us know why he left them out of the flick.
While it forms an interesting picture, The Departed doesn’t match up with director Martin Scorsese’s best. It entertains and acts as a worthwhile experience, but it doesn’t leave a substantial impression like Scorsese’s more memorable material. The DVD presents strong picture, good audio and a mix of reasonably informative extras. Departed gets my recommendation but I can’t give it a strong endorsement.