Brassed Off on PAL Laserdisc

Dom Robinson reviews

Brassed Off
Distributed by


  • VCLD 3609
  • Cert: 15
  • Running time: 103 minutes
  • Sides: 2 (CLV)
  • Year: 1996
  • Pressing: 1997
  • Chapters: 27 (16/11)
  • Sound: Dolby Surround
  • Widescreen: 1.85:1
  • Price: £24.99
  • Extras : None


      Mark Herman

    (Blame It On The Bellboy)


    Steve Abbott


    Mark Herman


    Trevor Jones (with Brass Band Music by the Grimethorpe Colliery Band)


    Danny: Pete Postlethwaite (The Usual Suspects, The Lost World – Jurassic Park, Crimetime, Dragonheart, Romeo and Juliet (1996), Suite 16, When Saturday Comes, TV appearances: “Sharpe’s Company”, “Sharpe’s Enemy”)
    Gloria Mullins: Tara Fitzgerald (Sirens, Hear My Song, TV appearances: “The Tenant Of Wildfell Hall”, “The Camomile Lawn”)
    Andy: Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, Shallow Grave, The Pillow Book, TV appearances: “E.R.”)
    Phil: Stephen Tompkinson (TV appearances: “Drop The Dead Donkey”, “Ballykissangel”)
    Harry: Jim Carter (A Private Function, Blame It On The Bellboy, The Madness Of King George, Richard III)
    Sandra: Melanie Hill (TV appearances: “Bread”)
    Vera: Sue Johnston (Face, TV appearances: “Brookside”)
    McKenzie: Stephen Moore (Clockwise, Under Suspicion, TV appearances: “Middlemarch”, “Sharpe’s Sword”, “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13 3/4”)

Setin 1992, Brassed Off tells the story of the impending closure of theGrimley Colliery pit, and the fact that the Grimley Colliery Band is on theverge of breaking up.

Enter Gloria, who becomes the only female member of the band and manages torekindle their enthusiasm for the forthcoming National Championships, as well asrekindling a childhood romance with Andy.

The show must go on, and despite everyone’s troubles, the band have to keep ittogether as the National Finals at the Royal Albert Hall are looming…

Seasoned British actor Pete Postlethwaite is one of the most prolificaround to date, and his performance in this film certainly rates as one of hisbest. While his character hides a serious medical condition, he also gets somechoice dialogue, such as that when the band does badly in a contest while theyre-establish their band in the community. In the local community hall he tellsoff the rest of the band by pointing to black-and-white photos of previousband members with :

“If some of these were alive today, they’d be turning in their bloody graves”

The two young leads in the film are also well-known in cinema circles. EwanMcGregor has followed British triumphs such as Trainspotting andShallow Grave by making an assault on the American market with anappearance as a gunman in hit series E.R. and with the director of theabove two British films in A Life Less Ordinary. The gorgeous TaraFitzgerald, playing the daughter of Arthur Mullins, one time a member ofthe band, hasn’t made it to Hollywood yet, concentrating more on homegrowndrama, plays the band’s new arrival, and as they realise they’re meant for oneanother, Gloria leads the conversation in which the words of love speak theirname…

        “Do you want to come up for a coffee?”
        “I don’t drink coffee”
        “I haven’t got any…”

The rest of the cast is filled out with British regulars such as StephenTompkinson whose love of the brass band raises his hopes when everythingelse in life is falling apart including his marriage as he fails to keep up withthe repayments despite also keeping a job as Mr. Chuckles the clown.

Jim Carter‘s character’s marriage is in equal dire straits as they workcompletely opposite hours and the only time they see each other is as theycross the doorstep. Sue Johnston, recently seen in the British crimethriller Face as the mother of Robert Carlyle, and Melanie Hillare the best of friends, while the always-welcome Stephen Moore plays alocal council official.

The picture quality of the disc is near-perfect, bringing life to the town ofGrimley making even the mostly drab-looking look attractive. In fact it wouldhave received a perfect score had it not been for a few pressing defects earlyon in the film and again at the start of side two. This is certainly not abig enough problem to deter anyone from buying the disc.

The sound is nothing short of excellent, with the best use made by the rousingperformance of the Grimethorpe Colliery Band, the real talent behind the GrimleyColliery Band’s performance.

The chaptering is very good too, although it is annoying that the film doesn’tstart at the beginning of its own chapter. Chapter 1 opens with the VCI logoand an advert for The Guardian, sponsors of Film on Four, and then goes intothe film. An extra chapter should have been inserted there as the second oneis placed at the end of the opening credits. Similarly, an extra chaptershould have been placed at the start of the closing credits as they comealmost 90 seconds into the final one, A Night On The Town.

Overall, you can’t beat a fine film lead by a class cast, and despite theobvious political elements of Conservative Party-bashing, this is exactly whatyou have here. This is the one of three discs released by VCI in theirfirst foray into the PAL Laserdisc market, a move to be congratulated as morecompanies are getting in on the act. The other currently released titlesareFever Pitch andSecrets And Lies.Cover

Film: 5/5
Picture: 4/5
Sound: 5/5

Review copyright © Dominic Robinson, 1997.

Check outVCI‘s Web site.

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