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The Committee (with Pink Floyd soundtrack) Print E-mail

The Committee DVD

Released by Basho Records, July 2005

With the DVD cover referring to it as "the mystery film of the 1960s", the Pink Floyd-scored movie The Committee has long been unavailable, until now, thanks to Basho Records.

Given a near-mythical status amongst Floyd fans for its soundtrack, specially recorded by the band (in one morning, no less!) the film in its entirety has been unavailable since the late 60s. Audio snippets of the Floyd score have appeared but the film itself never has - except maybe in one or two private collections. With strange dialog over the music, taken completely out of context, it makes little sense. Does the film itself fare better?

The film itself is in black and white, and runs for 55 minutes. The DVD includes an interview by Oscar winning director Jon Blair with Max Steuer (writer and producer) and Peter Sykes (director) that lasts for 50 minutes, and the package also includes a CD of the song The Committee arranged by Tim Whitehead for the Homemade Orchestra, plus two tracks from earlier Homemade Orchestra CDs.

The musical score, written and performed by the Pink Floyd, is some of the most intellectual music the Pink Floyd have produced, according to music writer David King (who reviewed The Committee for Brain Damage).

In his review of the movie David covers intricacies of both the story, and the Floyd's music, in great detail, so this review won't cover the same ground. We will, instead, look at the DVD itself - the quality of the transfer, and the nature of the contents.

It is a frankly bizarre movie. Very artistically shot, there are many meaningful looks, comments and actions, although at times it is nigh on impossible to fathom out what these are supposed to mean! It is very close to some of playwriter Harold Pinter's work, and there are some distinctly Kafkaesque elements to the storyline. Despite their best efforts, even some of the actors appear lost or confused at times!

With the start of the film showing the original BBFC (British Board of Film Censorship) certificate a nice touch, to set the scene, it is immediately evident that this is an excellent transfer. A crisp, detailed black and white picture from a good quality negative, that shows nice rich blacks, good shadows and contrast.

The Committee DVDThere's very little sign of damage to the negative that they've used - very rarely do you see any marks or scratches on the screen. There is the odd lateral judder but most people will probably not notice this or be looking at the DVD in as much detail as us!

The mono soundtrack is clear if slightly suffering from slightly agressive noise reduction, or possibly poor recording techniques during the making of the film - but this is typical for movies of this era. Dialog and music both come through well.

The only extra on the DVD is a present-day interview with Max Steuer and Peter Sykes, lasting around 50 minutes and covering the creation and background of the film.

Those excited by the thought of the bonus CD included, hoping that it would have the Floyd's music complete and unedited, will be disappointed to hear that it consists of three tracks, none of which have anything to do with the band.

The CD kicks off with star of the movie Paul Jones (Manfred Mann's singer) presenting a very stilted song called "The Committee", which at best could be described as a dated curio. Things improve greatly with the second track, a beautiful reading of Peter Gabriel's "Here Comes The Flood", performed by The Homemade Orchestra, that includes a lovely female vocal. The CD concludes with "Bird", an extended jazz workout that has Charlie Parker-esque roots.

Despite its complex and confusing storyline, this is a worthy release. Most of the sales will of course be to Floyd fans, getting hold (legitimately) of otherwise unreleased music recorded in May 1968. A shame that the CD couldn't include the music complete and without dialog over, but we guess that the tapes are now long gone. Until earlier this year, it was assumed that this film would remain lost, so top marks to Basho Records for finding the negative and arranging the release!


The DVD (which is in NTSC format, with no region coding), can be ordered using these special links: Amazon.com (USA/International), Amazon Canada, Amazon UK/Elsewhere, or Amazon Germany. It can also be obtained through www.JazzCDs.co.uk for the UK and Europe.

 
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