Blu-ray Cover

Distributor: Paramount Pictures

Release Date: January 06, 2015

Region: Region A

Length: 165 min

Video: 1080P (MPEG-4, AVC)

Main Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Alternate Audio: Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital (640 kbps)

Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish

Ratio: 1.85:1

Notes: This release includes DVD and Ultraviolet copies of the film. A DVD only release is also available to own.

Boyhood Title

“I had been a dad for about seven or eight years, and I wanted to express something about childhood. You know this now: when you have a kid, it puts you so much in the present tense with their lives, but you can’t help but churn through your own life at that age. It’s such an interesting refraction. So I was thinking a lot about development and childhood. I wanted to do something from a kid’s point of view, but all the ideas that I wanted to express from my own life were so spread out. I couldn’t pick one year, one moment. I was going to maybe write a novel—some little weird, experimental novel. And it hit me, this film idea: What if I filmed a little bit every year and just saw everybody, this family, age? The kids would grow up, the parents would age. In a way, it’s a simple idea, but so damn impractical.” –Richard Linklater (Interview Magazine)

Boyhood isn’t simply a remarkable film; it is a miracle on celluloid. Having recently won the Golden Globe for Best Drama Film, it isn’t terribly surprising that the film received as many as six Academy Award nominations (Best Picture, Best Director – Richard Linklater, Best Original Screenplay – Richard Linklater, Best Supporting Actor – Ethan Hawke, Best Supporting Actress – Patricia Arquette, and Best Film Editing – Sandra Adair). What Richard Linklater has accomplished with this film is nothing short of extraordinary. A few reviewers have noted a similarity with Michael Apted’s series of Up documentaries, but Boyhood is something very different.

The cast of Boyhood had to commit to a film that would take twelve years to complete.

“I called up Patricia [Arquette], who I had only met once, and she jumped aboard. I sat down with Ethan and told him what I was thinking, and he wanted to do it. Then I started casting, looking for kids. Lorelei, my daughter, demanded to have the part. I had the luxury of, every year, just tapping in. I would hang out with her and Ellar, the boy, and just try to pick up where they were at their age, what I felt they could do that year, and then work stories around all that. But pretty soon Lorelei was the sullen teenager who did not want to do it anymore… She’s like the person on the TV series who wants off. ‘Can you kill my character?’ [laughs] I’m like, ‘No. That’s a little too dramatic for this movie.’” –Richard Linklater (Interview Magazine)

Instead of writing a screenplay for his project, Linklater made a detailed outline of the major events that he wanted to occur. A short script was written every year for each individual shoot. This allowed Linklater to incorporate the personality of the actors into the film in an organic manner.

“All the marriages, divorces, moves, big stuff—I knew he’d go to college and I knew the last shot of the movie from the beginning. The photographer thing? I knew by high school he’d be expressing himself. I thought he’d be a writer. Knowing Ellar [Coltrane] himself at that point—he’s living in a music town, his dad is a musician; I thought he might be in a band. I thought I’d be filming band practice. The film would go where he wanted to some degree. That’s not what happened. He ended up with an interest in photography. I thought, ‘Great.’ I like that more. That’s closer to who I was [at that age]. I was taking pictures. I was observational. It was more fitting. That’s a good example of us going in his direction.” –Richard Linklater (Interview with Brian Tallerico)

Of course, there were many logistical headaches involved with a twelve year production model.

“I didn’t know that heading in, but you can’t contract for more than seven years—which is a good thing, especially when working with children. This was all a wing and a prayer. It was a life project that everyone committed to. Certainly, a few people shifted around. But we all make our life commitments—whether it’s to a family or a partner or a career.” –Richard Linklater (A.V. Club)

The cast and crew would shoot for about three days every year during the twelve year period. This might sound easy, but each shoot required a lot of preparation.

“Logistically, things were just off the charts. Crazy… Each time you have to get a crew, you’ve got to rent just for a three-day shoot, you still have to do all of that stuff: Get production insurance, tech-scout, location-scout, cast the additional parts, get the crew together, make deals. So weeks and weeks each year… We had a cast and crew of over 450 people who came through in various capacities for various times. We had a core crew that was there the whole time, with quite a few people who put in nine years or more. And there are probably 10 or 12 [people] who did either 11 or 12 years.” –Richard Linklater (The Dissolve)

This allowed Linklater to edit the film in the same piecemeal fashion that the film was shot. The editing process could then inform what he would shoot the following year.

“We would edit every year, attach it to whatever had gone before and then edit the whole thing again if we had the extra time. Then I could kind of hang out with that for a year, watch it, think about it, how to incorporate my incrementally aging cast, work that into my ideas and—it was just a fine life project. But that gestation time was incredible. Most movies, if you think about it, you put all your thoughts up front, and then you’re shooting, you’re on your toes, you’re making adjustments and dealing with reality, but you’re rendering what you conceived and then you’re editing that. This was in a much different order. I could edit, [and] then think, then I’m writing and shooting and editing again. So it was unlike any film ever.” –Richard Linklater (Indiewire)

It seems incredible that Linklater was able to find financing for such a project, and many studios passed without giving the project any real consideration. Fortunately, the director had worked on previous productions with IFC, and they agreed to finance the project. Their faith in the director has certainly paid off.

Boyhood defies articulate description. It isn’t quite like anything that has preceded it, and yet it seems vaguely familiar. It is difficult to account for the familiarity. Are we somehow reliving something in our own lives through the characters on the screen? The answer to this question is impossible to answer.

Those expecting the typical ‘coming of age’ melodrama might become irritated to some extent. Linklater shows the audience the small moments that make up a life. We are shown the little moments that people cherish in their mind, but that carry little to no importance to anyone besides the person who holds that particular memory. This is the film’s greatest achievement in many ways, because the viewer adopts these moments as he invests in the film. All of these things somehow become personal. We understand these little moments, even if they are different from our own memories. Somehow, we find ourselves adopting these moments (at least for the duration of the film). Perhaps this is due to the dreamlike nature of the film.

One might think that Boyhood would be rather episodic (perhaps with chapter headings that indicate each year). Instead, the film flows without interruption like memories played out in a dream. It is a dream that I plan to have again and again.

ET Coverage

The Presentation:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Paramount protects the disc in a standard Blu-ray case with film related artwork, and a slip sleeve with the same artwork protects the case.

Paramount Menu.jpg

The disc’s animated menu is attractive and includes musical accompaniment.

Picture Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

The filmmakers were able to maintain the continuity of the image’s texture throughout the twelve year production, and this 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encoded transfer accurately showcases this achievement. The 35mm source print must have remained in excellent condition; with only the occasional specks appearing towards the beginning of the film (none of these are distracting). There is a light layer of grain that one expects from any film shot on celluloid, and it is refreshing to see a film that looks like a film. Clarity is always excellent, and color is vivid while remaining natural. There are no discernable digital artifacts to distract the viewer either. Certain viewers will probably feel that the transfer is a bit soft. This seems to be the aesthetic of the film, and not an issue with the transfer. Black levels aren’t always precise, but few viewers will even register this flaw. It certainly isn’t distracting.

Sound Quality:

4 of 5 Stars

Paramount’s lossless 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track should please viewers, but it certainly won’t give their sound system a workout. Boyhood is an epic drama, with a very simple sound design that is appropriate for the film. The track favors dialogue in a pleasing way, and is always focused clearly in the center speakers. Certain listeners may prefer that the music be mixed in a more immersive manner, but it was probably wise to keep the music focused at the front end. The track is always clear and well spaced. Ambience is always subtly distributed, and this keeps the viewer locked into Mason’s world.

Special Features:

3.5 of 5 Stars

Q&A with Richard Linklater and the Cast – (1080p) – (52:38)

This program is from the post-screening Q&A with the director and cast held at Cinefamily in LA on June 15, 2014. The twelve year production is candidly discussed by the Linklater and his cast as they share interesting anecdotes, and other items of interest. At almost an hour in length, the viewer is given all sorts of interesting information. It is wonderful to have this included on the disc.

The 12 Year Project – (1080P) – (19:11)

This ‘behind the scenes’ featurette isn’t particularly comprehensive, but it is much better than the standard promotional EPK garbage usually included on more recent Blu-ray releases. Since the interviews are culled from throughout the 12 year production period, the viewer is given glimpses into the participants shifting perceptions about the production. Most aspects of the production are briefly covered here, and it is well worth nineteen minutes of the viewer’s time.

12 Years In A Life

Final Words:

Boyhood is essential viewing and will probably become a classic of American cinema. There were rumors that Criterion would release the film on Blu-ray, but Paramount would not play ball. It isn’t clear if the Criterion disc will ever happen, but it seems unlikely at this point. However, Paramount’s release should certainly satisfy most fans. It comes highly recommended.

Review by: Devon Powell

Fans of the film might also want to check out the following book review:

https://cinemaliterate.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/book-review-boyhood-12-years-on-film/

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