Everyone Stares: The Police Inside Out appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. I expected weak visuals from Stares and that’s what I got.
In no way did I regard that as a fault with the transfer. Since the vast majority of Stares came from decades-old Super 8 footage, it became inevitable that it wouldn’t look good. Sharpness was passable at best. The lower-resolution of the format meant that the shots usually seemed loose and not terribly distinctive. Jagged edges and shimmering weren’t an issue, and I noticed no edge enhancement.
Source flaws were a greater – and more inevitable – distraction. Grain was very heavy, and I also noticed examples of specks, marks and other debris. The grain was especially unavoidable, and it’s not a surprise to find such old footage with the other defects.
Colors tended to be bland and mushy. The heavy grain submerged them to a degree, but I don’t think they’d look good in any case. Though the hues were fine given the restrictions, they’re no better than that. Blacks were similarly flat, and shadows seemed dense and opaque. Again, since the footage came from older material shot on Super 8, I didn’t anticipate attractive visuals. However, I want to make sure the viewer knows that this will be an ugly presentation.
On the other hand, the audio of Everyone Stares proved more successful. The DVD included both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Other than the fact the DTS one seemed a little louder, I thought both were virtually identical.
Stares mixed audio recorded by Copeland’s Super 8 camera and studio music recordings. As one might expect, the former sounded the worst. They tended to be thin and shrill, with some definite distortion at times. This was most noticeable during some of the live performances; those could be really rough. For the most part, though, the Super 8 audio was feeble but clear.
At least the studio music compensated, and since that material made up much of the track, the audio worked well. The songs sounded bright and lively. They showed good clarity along with nice depth and concision. Copeland’s narration also was warm and natural.
As for the soundfield, it heavily promoted the music. The songs usually focused on the front channels, though they spread reasonably efficiently to the surrounds. While these didn’t give us a wild five-channel soundfield, they showed good imaging and delineation throughout the program. The mix of good and bad left the tracks with “B” grades.
Three kinds of extras appear here. First we discover an audio commentary from band members Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They tend to stick very closely to the action on-screen. This means much of the time we hear little more than identification of various locations. In addition, we get some information about performances, band and crew, the atmosphere of the different eras, and musical details.
Frankly, I can’t say that I remember a whole lot of interesting notes. Copeland dominates the piece, and he also relates some issues connected to the film’s assembly. Otherwise, the info tends to remain pretty lackluster. We don’t get a good feel for creating the music or being in such a hit band, as we usually just hear comments like “that was in Vancouver”. When Copeland and Summers actually let us know what it was like to be in the Police, I enjoyed the track. Unfortunately, since those moments occur infrequently, it didn’t leave me with a satisfied feeling.
Next we get some outtakes under the banner of Behind Andy’s Camel. This area includes 10 segments that fill a total of 14 minutes, 18 seconds of footage. These clips really fall into the category of odds and ends. None of them last very long, and they don’t present anything more than nutty moments such as manager Miles Copeland’s vocal for “Every Breath You Take”. Actually, that bit’s pretty funny, and we get some interesting shots of Sting when he reacts to various chart positions. Most of the material seems pretty forgettable, though.
Finally, Live “Shards” offers shots from the stage over the years. We get 10 song pieces here, usually from the earlier days. These include “So Lonely”, “Roxanne” (Spain), “Can’t Stand Losing You”, “Roxanne” (Federal Correction Institution Terminal Island), “Fall Out”, “Landlord”, “Truth Hits Everybody” (Pink Pop Festival), “Truth Hits Everybody” (Belgium), “Walking on the Moon” and “Message in a Bottle”.
Don’t expect extensive footage here, as all together, the “shards” only last 10 minutes, 21 seconds. The quality equals what we see in the full movie, which means the material looks and sounds terrible. Nonetheless, the footage is fun to see, as it gives us glimpses of the band at various stages in their evolution, though we don’t see much of the later years.
That’s a criticism I’d level at Everyone Stares as a whole: it covers the early era of the Police in a satisfying way but skimps on the band’s last few years. I also can’t call it an especially tight little documentary, but I think it satisfies nonetheless. As a Police fan, it’s simply really cool to see the band’s development from the inside via all the home movie footage. Picture quality stinks, but that’s to be expected, and audio is usually pretty good. Extras are pretty ordinary, especially since the commentary with two-thirds of the Police proves surprisingly uninformative. This is a good pick-up for serious Police fans but probably won’t do much for others.