Yentl appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.66:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. While usually reasonably attractive, the transfer wasn’t as consistent as I’d like.
Sharpness generally seemed good, but I thought the movie could become a little iffy at times. Though I suspect some of the mild softness was intentional to suit the movie’s period roots, I still felt the image was a little too ill-defined on occasion, especially in wide shots. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement seemed to be mild.
I noticed only a few source defects, at least during the shots from the theatrical version. Scenes added to the director’s cut tended to be notably dirtier. However, these only constituted a small portion of the film’s running time, so they weren’t a substantial distraction. The shots from the theatrical edition usually looked fine; I noticed a handful of specks and marks, but nothing major.
As for the colors of Yentl, the flick went with a golden, sun-dappled look. I felt the hues offered fairly good delineation. They could seem a little flat at times, but they usually came across with positive clarity. Blacks were reasonably dense, but shadows seemed lackluster. Low-light shots tended to appear somewhat thick and tough to discern. Overall, the image was good enough for a “B-“, but it could’ve been more consistent.
Don’t expect much from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Yentl, as it provided the kind of low-key material that made sense for a period drama. The soundfield remained pretty subdued. The score and songs showed good stereo delineation, while effects emphasized general ambience. This wasn’t a movie with any slam-bang sequences, so environmental elements carried the day. These occasionally added some minor life to the flick, but not much.
No issues with audio quality materialized. Speech always remained natural and concise, as the lines were easily intelligible and free from edginess. Effects were quite subdued but they seemed fine. Since Yentl was a musical, the songs and score became more important, and they sounded quite good. Those elements provided nice clarity and range. The music became the main reason I thought Yentl deserved an age-adjusted “B”; it wasn’t memorable, but it worked fine.
This two-disc edition of Yentl includes a fair number of extras. On DVD One, we start with an introduction by Barbra Streisand. In this one-minute and 50-second clip, Streisand discusses the DVD as well as what it was like to direct and act at the same time. She tells us little in the way of insight, but she offers a decent launch to the flick.
For more info about the film, we get an audio commentary from actor/director/co-writer Streisand and co-producer Rusty Lemorande. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the source story and its adaptation, story and character issues, musical elements, production design and costumes, sets and locations, cast and performances, lighting and cinematography, and a few other topics.
My only prior experience with a Streisand commentary came from A Star Is Born, and it was an erratic affair; Streisand provided some good insights but also tended to whine a lot about the pressures of fame. It was a decent commentary but it became awfully frustrating.
Happily, her discussion of Yentl proves to be more consistently satisfying. And I do mean her discussion; while Lemorande chimes in occasionally, Streisand dominates. And that’s fine, as she gives us a nice glimpse of the production. The track occasionally sags just a bit, but overall the commentary provides an enjoyable and informative chat.
11 Deleted Scenes run a total of 16 minutes, 44 seconds. That total includes a one-minute, 32-second introduction from Streisand during which she tells us a little about shooting the sequences as well as editing. As for the scenes themselves, they flesh out various character elements but they don’t provide anything noteworthy.
DVD Two opens with another Introduction by Barbra Streisand. This one lasts three minutes, three seconds. The co-writer/director/actor talks about aspects of the production and symbolism in the movie. She offers some interesting thoughts, though she mostly repeats notes from the commentary.
DVD Two provides The Director’s Reel. In this six-minute and 55-second piece, we see raw footage from the set. It gives us minor insights to how Streisand acted and directed at the same time, so it’s fun to see.
For the disc’s longest component, we find the 29-minute and 33-second The Rehearsal Process. After another intro from Streisand, we see footage of the film’s rehearsals; these emphasize musical numbers. In addition to the raw material, we can compare the rehearsals to the final film shots. I like this feature, as it lets us get a nice feel for the pre-shoot work put into the sequences.
Two Deleted Songs – Storyboard Sequences appear next. These include “The Moon and I” (3:49) and “Several Sins a Day” (3:43). We see storyboards and hear the songs on top of the visuals. Fans will enjoy the chance to check out planned but unused songs and sequences.
During the commentary, Streisand alludes to Barbra’s 8mm Concept Film, and we get to see it here. It runs eight minutes, 36 seconds and can be viewed with or without narration from Streisand. She tells us that she created the reel to tout her potential as a director. (Yentl was her first flick behind the camera.) “Concept” shows various locations scouted for Yentl and also occasionally features Streisand in costume.
If you choose to watch “Concept”, it makes sense to stick with the narration version. Without it, you get no audio other than film score, so there’s nothing you lose if you select the one with narration. The reel itself isn’t particularly fascinating, but Streisand’s comments add value, and it’s good to get “Concept” as a historical artifact.
My Wonderful Cast and Crew goes for seven minutes, 29 seconds and provides a video look at the film’s participants. It shows behind the scenes footage and identifies the various folks by name. Oddly, it doesn’t explain their jobs on the film, which seems like a strange omission.
In addition to the movie’s teaser and theatrical trailers, DVD Two ends with some Still Galleries. These cover “Production” (63 shots), “Portraits” (38), “Behind the Scenes” (72) and “The Recording Studio” (19). These offer a mix of decent images.
Finally, the DVD’s case includes a four-page booklet. Two of the pages offer praise from the movie critics, while another shows a letter signed by cast and crew to laud Streisand. Frankly, the booklet feels like another ego boost for Streisand.
I won’t state that I feel Yentl exists solely in that self-inflating vein, as I think Streisand had something she really wanted to say with the project. Unfortunately, it still comes across like an ode to her own greatness, and it proves to be rather dull and silly affair. The DVD offers generally good picture and audio as well as a fairly nice roster of extras. Fans will enjoy this release, but I can’t recommend it to new viewers.