The Rose appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This was a good representation of the source.
Sharpness mostly looked fine. Some shots came across as a bit soft and ill defined, but those instances didn’t occur with any great frequency, and they occasionally seemed to reflect the original photography, as the movie sometimes opted for a gauzy look. While not the world’s most precise image, it appeared positive.
I saw no issues related to jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. With a good layer of grain, I sensed no digital noise reduction, and the movie came free from print flaws. From start to finish, this remained a clean presentation.
Rose featured a fairly natural palette, and most of the tones came across as accurate. While I couldn’t say the hues impressed, the colors seemed largely accurate.
Black levels were deep and dark, and low-light sequences followed along the same lines. Shadow detail seemed smooth and demonstrated good clarity within the restrictions of the source photography. Overall, the image showed some age-related drawbacks but still came across well.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of The Rose seemed mostly limited in scope, as the majority of the movie essentially offered monaural audio. Dialogue remained rooted in the center, and a lot of effects stayed there as well.
However, the mix did open up occasionally. Concerts allowed crowd noise to pop up from all five channels, and a few other sequences – like those with helicopters – also boasted nice movement and localization.
Music also broadened well. The songs spread across the front speakers in a satisfying stereo manner that presented them in a positive manner.
Audio quality appeared acceptable for the era. Speech was a little thin but always sounded clear and easily intelligible, and I noticed no problems with brittleness or other issues. Effects played a small role in the movie, but they seemed reasonably accurate and clean. I heard no concerns connected to distortion from those elements.
Music seemed full and rich for the most part; I would’ve liked a bit more low-end, but that’s a minor quibble. In the end, the movie offered a pretty positive soundtrack given its age and ambitions.
As we shift to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Mark Rydell. Recorded for a 2003 DVD, he offers a running, screen-specific look at the project’s path to the screen, story/character areas, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, editing and cinematography, and related topics.
At times, Rydell includes some decent details, but he makes enough factually incorrect remarks that I find it hard to trust his other memories. For instance, he believes that Frederic Forrest got work with Francis Coppola because of The Rose even though Forrest had already shot The Conversation and Apocalypse Now with Coppola before he appeared in Rose.
Even more bizarre, Rydell claims that he got offered The Rose 15 years before he made it but he insisted on the use of Bette Midler and the studio refused. This makes no sense, as Midler was still a teenager in Hawaii circa 1964 and Janis Joplin – the singer on whom the movie was based – was completely unknown at that time. Never mind that Rydell was still a TV actor/director in 1964 as well and not someone in a position to dictate terms to a movie studio.
Even if I ignore these mistaken memories, the commentary flops because Rydell gives us too little good information. He tends to simply praise the movie and boost his own status as a filmmaker. We don’t get nearly enough worthwhile material to overcome all the commentary’s flaws.
Three modern interviews appear next, and the first comes with actor Bette Midler. In this 17-minute, 10-second chat, Midler discusses how she came onto the film, influences and doing the movie’s songs, aspects of her performance, working with Rydell, her co-stars, costumes and some production areas. Midler doesn’t provide any revelations, but she offers an engaging enough little discussion.
From 2014, we hear more from director Mark Rydell. This reel lasts 16 minutes, eight seconds and includes Rydell’s remarks about his involvement in the project, cast and crew, the film’s look, shooting musical numbers, and other aspects of his life/career. This never becomes a great conversation, but it’s tighter and more interesting than Rydell’s commentary.
We also get an interview with director of photography Vilmos Szigmond. During this 30-minute, 28-second piece, Szigmond talks with fellow John Bailey about the script, locations and performances but he mostly focuses on photography-related areas. This tends to trot down the technical side of the street, but I enjoy the chance to hear two professionals discuss their trade.
Two vintage segments come next. A 1978 Today Show Excerpt fills four minutes, 52 seconds as it takes us to the movie’s set. Other than some quick comments from Rydell and Midler, the piece focuses on aspects of the shoot on New York. It becomes a decent like glimpse of the production.
We finish with a 1979 Gene Shalit Interview with Bette Midler. It goes for 14 minutes, eight seconds and looks at her performance and related aspects of the movie. Given its place as a TV chat, it doesn’t boast a ton of depth, but I like it due to its “period immediacy”; it’s good to hear thoughts from the period in which the movie debuted.
The package concludes with a 12-page booklet. It boasts photos, credits and an essay from critic Paula Mejia. The booklet complements the set well.
How could a movie about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll be boring? I don’t know, but The Rose fails to become anything interesting, even with some strong talent behind it. The Blu-ray provides good picture and audio as well as a decent set of supplements. I’m glad I finally saw The Rose after 35 years, but the film does little for me.