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Kramer vs. Kramer(1979)
Joanna Kramer, a Manhattan housewife, can no longer face life with her husband Ted. She walks out leaving her son Billy in Ted's charge. Ted has to adjust his life and face up to his new found responsibilities. Just as he starts to find his feet, Joanna returns, intent on fighting for custody of her son. Based on the best-selling novel by Avery Coleman.
For more about Kramer vs. Kramer and the Kramer vs. Kramer Blu-ray release, see Kramer vs. Kramer Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on February 12, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Meryl Streep, Justin Henry, Jane Alexander, Howard Duff, JoBeth Williams
Director: Robert Benton
» See full cast & crew
Kramer vs. Kramer Blu-ray Review
Celebrated in the 70s; at home on Blu-ray
Reviewed by Ben Williams, February 12, 2009
Many consider the 1970s to be a seminal decade in the history and development of film. Personal films from writer-directors dominated the early part of the decade and fostered the careers of a new era of talented visionaries like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Roman Polanski. Of course, nothing lasts forever and, before you can say Jaws, the summer blockbuster was accidentally created. Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and a handful of other directors, transformed Hollywood and fascinated audiences with spectacle over emotion, leaving smaller, heartfelt films in the dust. Perhaps the last hurrah of the writer-director era occurred in 1979, when Robert Benton's Kramer vs. Kramer became the critical and commercial darling of the year. The film broke new ground by focusing on the relationship between an estranged Father and Son, while turning heads as wake-up-call for Fathers' rights. Kramer vs. Kramer is, in every way, a true film classic.
Ted Kramer (Dustin Hoffman) is a family man; not the kind who spends countless hours with his son, Billy (Justin Henry), but the kind who thinks his high-powered job in advertising provides all that the family needs from him. Ted's wife Joanna (Meryl Streep), on the other hand, has had enough of his late night business meetings and workaholic nature. As Ted returns home from work one fateful night, he discovers Joanna in the process of leaving him and their young son. With little or no fanfare, Joanna is gone and Ted and Billy, Father and Son, are faced with the reality that neither of them really knows the other. Under the most painful circumstances imaginable, Billy having been abandoned by his loving mother and Ted left betrayed and deceived; their truncated family must learn to trust and rely on each other, while coping with their mutual losses as only a Father and Son can. Both of them struggle with the life they've been forced to live; Ted's career stalls due to his fatherly responsibilities and Billy resents his Dad for never being there for him. In spite of the challenges, pain and awkward moments, their Father and Son bonds grow and the two become inseparable. But just as they fall into a comfortable routine, Joanna reappears and files for sole custody of Billy. Faced with the reality of losing his son, Ted realizes that without Billy, his life is meaningless.
Kramer vs. Kramer is an overwhelmingly emotional movie that is bound to effect viewers in a variety of different ways. Some will identify with Billy and the abandonment he experiences from his mother, while others will find Ted's struggles to be the film's primary theme. Heck, I'm sure some will even identify with Joanna's reasons for leaving the family and her eventual reappearance. I saw Kramer vs. Kramer theatrically with my parents back in 1979 and have vivid memories of the experience. I'd be lying if I claimed to recall much about the movie at the age of five, but the emotional impact it had on my parents was something that I was acutely aware of at the time and haven't forgotten since.
What touched my parents, audiences and critics so deeply those 30 long years ago, was the sudden, shocking realization of the devastating emotional impact that they would experience when faced with the reality of losing a child. This theme is just as powerful and heartbreaking today as it was as the time of the film's release. I don't have children and I can't claim to have experienced the film as a parent would, but Kramer vs. Kramer remains amongst the most deeply felt and emotionally honest films I've ever seen. The movie doesn't exist to teach lessons or caution against any particular behavior. Instead, it serves to highlight the tragedy that occurs within any family experiencing divorce. Regardless of who you might be rooting for in the film or whoever ends up with custody, no one will walk away from these events a winner; everyone loses. Kramer vs. Kramer is a movie that I'll never forget, nor will I ever want to.
Kramer vs. Kramer was the recipient of nine Academy Award nominations in 1979. Among them, young actor Justin Henry became, at that time and to this day, the youngest actor ever nominated for an Oscar. While Mr. Henry didn't win, Robert Benton did, twice, for his screenplay and direction along with Meryl Streep for her supporting performance; Dustin Hoffman took home a statuette for his stunning performance and the film won for best picture. Given that, just how has it transpired that Kramer vs. Kramer is a relatively forgotten film these days? Perhaps it is too hard to watch for some; perhaps its appeal is purely seventies in nature. Whatever the excuse, Kramer vs. Kramer is a powerful film that has the ability to remind viewers of the effectiveness of simple storytelling and emotional honesty. Kramer vs. Kramer is a must own title.
Kramer vs. Kramer Blu-ray, Video Quality
One of the great joys I experience in watching Blu-ray movies, lies in seeing great pictures projected in my home; looking like film. Kramer vs. Kramer is exactly that kind of experience for me. Sony has done a tremendous job in translating the intricate details of grainy, seventies-style film into a 1080p, AVC Mpeg-4 digital picture that mimics what filmgoers experienced in 1979. I can't imagine anyone who appreciates the unique qualities of film grain not being thrilled with how Kramer vs. Kramer turned out.
Many films from the seventies had a specific look to them that was bought about by a number of particular film stock choices; producing heightened grain in favor of razor-sharp detail. That's not to say that Kramer vs. Kramer doesn't contain its fair share of fine detail; it has plenty of moments where skin, fabric and landscape details are well defined. However, given the picture's dramatic plot and character-driven focus, this grainier style manages to convey a more natural and thoughtful visual tone that reflects the film's complex subject matter. Sony's new Blu-ray version maintains this look while avoiding the pitfalls of over-compression, sharpening or smoothing. I'm more than pleased with the results and am thrilled to offer Kramer vs. Kramer my highest recommendation.
Kramer vs. Kramer Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Unsurprisingly, Kramer vs. Kramer finds its way to Blu-ray sounding every bit like the late seventies film that it is. As a character-driven drama, there's very little to the movie aside from dialogue and music. On a few occasions, notably in the film's numerous park and street scenes, this newly remastered 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack adds in a touch of ambient city noise to the rear channels. It's a nice effect, but is about as far as this track goes in attempting any kind of surround presentation. For the remainder of the film, dialogue is well presented; in a stable, intelligible and articulate manner, while the film's musical score takes root in the front stereo channels. Kramer vs. Kramer doubtlessly sounds better than it ever has and is recommended.
Kramer vs. Kramer Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
There's not much to talk about where special features are concerned; Kramer vs. Kramer includes a single, solitary extra in the form of a documentary entitled: "Finding the Truth – The Making of Kramer vs. Kramer." It's an interesting feature with its fair share of worthwhile talking points and behind the scenes information. In the long run, however, this single featurette reinforces the reality that Kramer vs. Kramer is too limited in appeal to warrant the expense of extensive extras while being just old enough of a film to create problems in finding usable production material. Considering this, I'm more than willing to forgo an extra or two in order to experience a remarkable, Academy Award- winning film in glorious Blu-ray high definition.
Kramer vs. Kramer Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Kramer vs. Kramer is a heartbreaking film that broke new ground in Hollywood by braving the topic of Fathers' rights in divorce cases. The film doesn't have an agenda, per se, though it never shies away from highlighting certain realities within the family courts of the United States. Ultimately, the film is an exploration of the difficult role that Fathers play in their children's lives and how, when forced to take a more active role, any loving Father would respond. Kramer vs. Kramer cleaned up at the 1979 Academy Awards by winning Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress. Strangely, despite having such a profound effect on the movie landscape back in 1979, the film has fallen off the radar as of late. This stunning Blu-ray from Sony does the movie proud with a beautiful, film-like video presentation and capable audio. It's my sincere hope that, given this exceptional new Blu-ray, Kramer vs. Kramer will experience a reemergence; reminding old fans of the film's power while enticing new viewers. Highly recommended.
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Kramer vs. Kramer Blu-ray, News and Updates
• 30th Anniversary Screening of Kramer vs Kramer - February 5, 2009
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced that they will hold a "Hollywood's Finest – LIVE" Screening and Q&A for 'Kramer vs Kramer' on Tuesday February 17th at the Fine Arts Theater in Beverly Hills, CA. The event is timed to celebrate the 30th Anniversary ...
• Sony Details Kramer vs Kramer - December 22, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the technical specs and special features for the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'Kramer vs Kramer', which is due to hit store shelves February 17th. Video will be presented in 1.85:1 1080p AVC accompanied by a 5.1 Dolby ...
• Sony Announces Gandhi, Quarantine for Blu-ray - December 8, 2008
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced four new release and catalog titles coming soon to Blu-ray. For all four releases, video will be presented in 1080p AVC accompanied by a 5.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Additionally, all titles will be BD-Live ready so ...
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