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June 2006 Film Music DVD Review

Film Music Editor: Michael McLennan
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings/ June/


Book Review

Halliwells Film & Video Guide 2006 
  Edited by John Walker
1,336 pp
£22:50
  Harper Collins Entertainment - ISBN 0-00-720550-3

The new 2006 edition of Halliwell, is heavier and bulkier than ever!  Yes, I know you can get virtually all its information on the web these days but I, for one, find it comforting to have the solidity of this treasure of a reference book. I am delighted to report that my many compliments about earlier editions still remain valid. Moreover the price has not gone up so very much since the 2000 edition.

I am always relieved when a new version of Halliwell's Film and Video Guide arrives because the one that it supersedes is invariably tattered and falling apart from constant use. I guess I must refer to it, at least, to the equivalent of once per day.

It is amazing to think that this is the 20th edition of the Guide. The bulk of the present edition makes it a large, hefty tone (but it has a strong paperback cover). Some 23,000 movies are covered including hundreds of new ones. Films are reviewed from as far afield as Iran and Korea.<

The good news is that there is a new ‘rapid-guide-to-reviews’ feature.  The vertical edges of the book now have alphabetised, orange tabs so that you can get to the appropriate pages that much faster. Moreover this orange feature is incorporated as coloured film titles (and is used for certain icons) for each of the films reviewed.

John Walker writes: “Some films in this edition have been re-evaluated, mainly as a consequence of work on a recently published companion volume, Halliwell’s  Top 1,000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown, on the thousand greatest films of the past 100 years. That provided an opportunity to watch again many classic movies and discover which still stood the test of time and which had faded a little. A few have lost a star from their ratings and some have gained one.”

As usual the entries carry very helpful annotations in the form of small graphic icons. The persistent precedence of the VHS video-cassette icon over into this edition especially in this DVD age, does look a little quaint and anachronistic. But then Halliwell is still pretty thorough.

The icons cover:-:
Film suitable for family viewing
VHS video-cassette for the British PAL system
VHS video-cassette for the British PAL system in wide screen-format
Video-cassette in a computer-coloured version
American NTSC video-cassette (not compatible with the British PAL system)
Laser Disc
Soundtrack released on compact disc
DVD Digital Video Disc (Regions 1 and 2)
Cast in approximate order of importance
Points of interest
Notable songs
Academy Award
Academy Award Nomination
BAFTA Awards

Moreover, and intelligently, all these symbols are shown in the context of a typical page, printed on the inside cover of the volume for quick, easy, fail-safe reference. The main symbols are also carried across the bottom of each page spread. 

As in previous editions there are lists of four-star and three-star films by title and year. It is salutary to note that there are not too many four-star film entries for the years 2000 to 2004 --  they include: Gosford Park (2001) and all three of The Lord of the Rings films (2001-03)  The number of three-star films through this period was more impressive. The 2003 three-star list includes: Dogville, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and Touching the Void; while the 2004 list includes: The Aviator, Finding Neverland The Incredibles and Sideways.  The 2005 list has only two:Batman Begins and Million Dollar Baby  Neither of these 2005 three-star films had scores that impressed Halliwell.

There is a useful list of Academy Award Winners (but not, alas, including any music awards)  There is also an index of Leading Directors. The former inclusion of remarkable film web sites (including our own) is not in evidence either.

Nevertheless, for every film and film music fan this book continues to be essential.

Ian Lace

Rating: N/A

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