I had owned the videotape of the Stand. Because of this, I had to ask myself why I should purchase the DVD. The sound was only Dolby 2.0, the scope was the original 1:1.33, fit to the dimensions of the tube. After watching this on DVD for only a few minutes, I was extremely glad I got the disc. While the aspect ratio and audio are not the super surround most DVD owners expect, the quality of this disc is beyond reproach. On all levels, direction, acting and script, this movie is one of the best adaptations of one of the best modern books around. The story is dramatic, the world is infected with a virus created in a government lab and winds up killing over 99% of the population. Two groups begin to form, both guided by strange dreams. The first is composed of basically good people. They are drawn to an elderly black woman in the middle of a cornfield. The second is made up of people ranging from those looking for the easy way out to those that are fundamentally evil. They are draw to Las Vegas and a sinister man.
First the acting. It would use up this entire review to list all the excellent actors in this film. Gary Sinise plays an every man hero, Stu Redman. Like most of the main characters in this movie Stu is naturally immune to the disease. Molly Ringwald as a girl from Maine brings great depth and humanity to the role. Far more range is seen in the acting presented here than in most large budget films. Add to this a wide range of talent including Ray Walston, Ruby Dee, Rob Lowe and Ossie Davis you have a cast that can go above and beyond the norm.
The script is based on Steven Kings novel and was penned by King himself. As mentioned in the commentary, King does not write about the monster in the closet, he writes about the family that owns the house that has the closet. His script that shows off the talent of the actors by giving them an opportunity to display those talents in portraying characters that present great depth and realism. His story is supernatural, a tale of human good versus pure evil. The characters have dimension that will allow you to identify with them. Kings actually states that only a TV mini series can provide the proper medium for a novel of such scope as the Stand.
The director, Mick Garris, fought with the network to do this film his way. He did not use major stars or known TV stars (although actors like Sinise have gone on to stardom). His use of music in the movie is masterful. Even the lack of music in some scenes is striking. A scene filmed for TV were two characters sit in silence, not even a sound track, creating a mood that will chill you. The cuts from scene to scene is well played and keeps the pace at just the right level.
The commentary of this film is the real reason to move up from the tape to the DVD. The commentary includes King speaking about how he wrote the book. Providing a rare insight into his creative process. Garris tells of not only the tribulations with the network but also the directorial techniques he employs to gain the feel he needed to present his masterpiece. Added to this are comments from many of the actors in the movie. They give a round robin forum discussing the bits and pieces necessary to bring such a large project together. Get this one to enjoy many, many times.