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Please review epic movie DVDs here, thanks. When reviewing, good things to keep in mind that people want to know: how good was the film quality, was the film itself any good, what were the extras and how good were they, was there a good commentary, etc. You know, stuff you would like to know if you were thinking about buying a particular DVD.

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  • 1 year later...

I had high hopes for the rerelease of "The Robe," especially since it was released recently under Fox's "Cinema Classics Collection." "The Robe" is a Biblical epic I've always enjoyed, even with its cheesy backdrops and the stiff acting of Richard Burton. The lush score by Alfred Newman is as powerful as ever.


Unfortunately, this current release has not been remastered, just enhanced for widescreen televisions. The print is very grainy and looks like this was just a quick vault release to tie into Easter. Hopefully, some day Fox will go back and do a decent remaster of this classic.

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  • 9 months later...

*Becket (Blu-ray)*


In actual fact, Becket may not be called an epic in the traditional sense, so let's say it a small epic. Dealing with the conflict betweenThomas Becket, head of the Church of England, and King Henry II (played by Peter O'Toole)(he would play Henry II again in The Lion in Winter). The film's acting is excellent, but O'Toole does occasionally go over the top in his wonderful Peter O'Toole way while Burton stays ever monotone.


The Blu-ray high definition picture is superb, with only an occasional softness on facial features. The colors are astonishly vivid and the audio quite excellent.


There are two short featurettes (both in standard definition) on the editong and the score, with trailers and a photo gallery.



There is also a commentary by Peter O'Toole, which I didn't get a chance to listen to before I sent it back to Netflix. I will be buying this title and will update this review when I have had a chance to listen to it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I guess my post will be sort of "after the fact" but I saw this thread and wanted to put in my two cents' worth about an "epic" film -- I guess it's considered epic, "Gone With the Wind." My daughter bought me the four-disc version, which I think is the latest: two discs for the movie and two of bonuses. It's a nice set and the best to date, I think. Anyone considering buying it, you won't be disappointed. If I have put this in the wrong thread, I apologize. Maybe "epic" is more in the vein of "The Ten Commandments" and "Ben-Hur." GWTW is definately "epic" in its length however. Wouldn't it be great to see what wound up on the cutting room floor? I doubt those cuts were saved. Anyone know?



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*Zulu (Blu-ray import) (UK)*


Those of you who remember this classic will be stunned at how absilutely gorgeous it looks on high-definition Blu-ray. It is hard to rememeber it ever looking this good in the theater. The print is super-rich with colors and clarity. For a very good look at comparisons of this Blu version to that of previous DVD releases, check out this link for screenshots.




Then wait until you see it on your own screen. Amazing! Highly recommended as one of the best-looking classics I have seen on Blu.


This is an import from the UK (you can get it from Amazon UK, if you like). It is region free, which means it will play on all North American Blu-ray players, too. And I was delightfully surprised to see that all pf the four feature shorts (in standard definition) also played without any problem. There is also a commentary by a historian, which I haven't played yet.


A must-have Blu title.

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  • 4 weeks later...

*Amadeus: The Director's Cut (Blu-ray)*


It's been more than two decades siince I have seen this Best Picture Oscar winner and in that time I had forgotten what a wonderful movie it is. It is surprising now to see Tom Hulce as Mozart get second billing (after F.Murray Abraham), as his is the showier role. and that Abraham won the Oscar for Best Actor over him.


The film looks absolutely stunning on Blu-ray high definition. The picture is sharp, the sound exceptional (as is befitting for a film dealing with music). The film also has a commentary track and an interesting documentary on the making of the movie (in standard definition).


This a digibook presentation and the Blu-ray disc (and a separate CD with about 60 minutes of selections of Mozart's music) are encased in a 36-page hardcover book.

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  • 3 weeks later...

*A Passage to India (Blu-ray)*


Oh, my heavens, this is a gorgeous film to own. The film was nominated for Best Picture (the year Amadeus won) and was David Lean's return to cinema after a passage of a number of years (he had been very hurt by the critical reviews of "Ryan's Daughter," fourteen years earlier).


The clarity is excellent, and the colors...well, let me tell you, the colors are breathtaking! Lean has arranged so many magnificent sights all in one film, all the while telling the story of a young woman (Judy Davis) on her first trip to India. The audio is Dolby TrueHD and shines throughout.


There are several excellent shorts that have actors and others discussing the making of the film, though I think they could easily have been edited all into one documentary (this is in standard definition, by the way). Commentary is produced by Richard Goodwin, one of the producers of the film, and while it is informative, it is also very dry because Goodwin speaks in a very unemotional, monotone droning voice.


The Blu-ray also comes with a picture in picture capability where facts about the filming and British/East Indian differences in real life pop up at different moments in the film. However, instead if being a small box in the corner of the screen, the fctas pop as full screen and the picture of the movie is momentarily reduced to the box to the side. When the fact is finished playing, it automatically leaves the screen and the full movie image returns.


All in all, this is a Blu-ray worth owning and an excellent demo disc to show people coming over to see what your Blu-ray is really about.


P.S. -- When you pay this film, do not be surprised that the image does not reach to both edges of your HDTV. Lean deliberately shot it this way because he was thinking of the transition to TV.

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I watched *Amadeus* and *Gandhi* on blu-ray, and I think the latter one is still the better movie, imho, and also may have a slightly sharper transfer on blu-ray. I'm sure some might disagree, but I watched both on the same day so I was comparing it almost "side-by-side" in a way.


Still, no matter which one you like best, it's great to have these two Oscar-winning movies from the early 80s on blu-ray. Funny thing is, how sometimes you can't help but notice the actors who have become more famous years later. In *Amadeus*, it would be Cynthia Nixon, playing the chambermaid that Salieri hires to work for Amadeus. She looks really young, almost 20 years before she became a household name thanks to "Sex and the City".


And in *Gandhi*, Daniel Day-Lewis has a small part as one of the locals in South Africa who gives Gandhi a hard time for walking on the sidewalk.

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  • 3 weeks later...

*The Robe (Blu-ray)*


Watching "The Robe" is certainly an experience...or, at the least, several experiences in one. The film, beautifully restored, is a marvel to behold. This is so superior to the DVD issued a few years back.


(NOTE: The pictures in my review were done by me over a cellphone camera, so please excuse the quality, while the discs were in still frame mode. The player was the same, and the same settings were on the TV...all I did was change the discs in the player., same settings for each on TV and player)


These first two were done very close to the screen:


DVD from 2001:








The Blu-ray gives you a chance to view not only the widescreen film, but there is an option to click to a picture-in-picture of the standard size screen version that was shot just before or after each widescreen shot during the original filming, just in case CinemaScope wasn?t successful).





Widescreen with picture-in-picture of standard size film:




It is very interesting to compare the films to see slight differences in staging (you also get an idea of how much you miss seeing with the standard version:



Exclusive to the Blu-ray disc are several featurettes: ?The Cinemascope Story,? ?From Scripture to Script: The Bible and Hollywood,? and Fox Movietones and ads. Also the BonusView picture-in-picture feature mentioned above. You can also access a different picture-in-picture feature called ?A Seamless Faith: The Rea-Life Search for the Robe.?


Like the DVD, the Blu has an excellent isolated track of just the music by Alfred Newman, plus a commentary, and all the other items you will find on the DVD.


This is a must-have for any Blu-ray collection.

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  • 3 weeks later...

*Quo Vadis (Blu-ray)*


I just finished watching this and let me say right off that _this is a Blu-ray classic title to own_. Quo Vadis was one of the major Biblical-oriented films that came before The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, The Robe, and others. And it was done magnificently. I've seen it many years before and also liked it, especially the supporting performance by Leo Genn and the music by Miklos Rozsa. This time, for the first time, I was accepting of Robert Taylor as the Roman Legion comander who seeks, at first, to add beautiful Christian Deborah Kerr to his many conquests, but soon falls in love with her. Before I always thought of him as too American movie starish, but his is a strong presence when it is needed. There is much to be said about this epic but it should be experienced.


As to the picture quality, let me just say it has been beautifully restored and looks magnificent. The sound has a 1.0 audio track matching the original theatrical presentation, though it too has been restored. The original roadshow overture and exit music have been readded to the film for the first time in over 50 years.



Among the special features is an interesting full-length audio commentary by film historia F.X. Feeney. There is also an interesting 45-minute documentary on the making of the film, plus two trailers.


One of the things I'd like to mention about Blu-ray that is good for international viewers...with the extra room on these discs, this title has about 16 or so different language subtitle tracks (compared to only three on the DVD) and the Blu has audio tracks in English, French, Spanish (both Castillian and Latin), German, and Italian (while the DVD only has English and French).

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> {quote:title=filmlover wrote:}{quote}

> Among the special features is an interesting full-length audio commentary by film historia F.X. Feeney. There is also an interesting 45-minute documentary on the making of the film


I've a question about the documentary. Was it made around the time of the movie's release, or is it a recently-made documentary?

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  • 4 months later...

I recently had a chance to watch A Passage to India in blu-ray, and I was blown away by the amazing-looking picture (and the sound, too, to a slightly lesser extent).


The movie may have been released in 1984, but you wouldn't know it from watching it on blu-ray. This is one of those movies that, in spite of being decades old, looks very much as if it had been filmed just a few months ago.


There are relatively few titles from the 80s that have managed this feat - most of them look less than crystal-sharp, and it's sad when one considers the detail that blu-ray is capable of showing.


I watched the movie in complete darkness, so if there was even the slightest pillar-boxing, I didn't notice it one bit. As far as I could tell, the movie seemed to fill the entire screen of my HDTV.


I just wish that WHV might some day give Ryan's Daughter the same treatment, and release it on blu-ray. It may not be one of Lean's best, but I think it deserves a blu-ray release all the same.

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  • 2 months later...

I am still working on my reviews for the two Olivier titles, but I noticed that the dvdbeaver.com review is up for Hamlet, and the review is excellent. There is even some screen captures that compare the Criterion DVD to the new Blu-ray. Here are two images from their review that I think nicely show off the improvement of the blu-ray high def disc (which is locked to region 2, and will play in the UK, but not here in the U.S.)




_Criterion DVD:_








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  • 3 weeks later...

*Gone With The Wind Ultimate Collector's Edition (Blu-ray)*


Wow, I am impressed. From the first moment when you unwrap the plastic surrounding this box set, you know you are in for a treat. The (red) velvet feel of the box in your fingers is unlike any I have experienced with any DVD or Blu-ray set before now...and why not, this movie has been considered the greatest film ever made. Does it deserve any less than the best packaging there has ever been? With its "70th Anniversary Gone With the Wind" in gold letters on all four sides set against the red velvet...aw, sheer ecstacy.


But then, a moment of panic...what if the interior doesn't match up to such a buildup (much the same worry the audience probably had in 1939 prior to geting to see GWTW after such a massive buildup)? But there is absolutely nothing to fear. When you open it up, you are greeted with a picture of Scarlet O'Hara on the inner lid. If upon opening the lid, had I heard the Tara theme suddenly playing (you don't), I would not have been surprised. This truly looks and feels like a woman's beautiful treasure box.


Inside, you find a 52-page hardcover photo and production art book. While not filled with the detailed behind-the-scenes writing of the similar Wizard of Oz book, the photos and artwork will please any GWTW fan.


Next is the reproduction of the original 40-page souvenir program (there were two versions issued, one with Hattie McDaniel pictured on the backcover with the other stars and one for the South without her. This is the one with her). Unlike the repro issued with the 2005 DVD set, this program is almost the same size as the original program (this one measures approx. 7.5 x 10 inches).


After this you get several pages of David O. Selznick memos and other correspondence. Nice touch.


What's that, you want more? Okay, how about 10 5x7 color cards showing production drawings in a nice folder called "The Art of Gone With the Wind"? How about a CD with approximately 35 minutes of music from the soundtrack?


There is a four page booklet that serves a directory of what are on the three discs in the set. Then some promotional flyers for TCM DVDs and other items. (I thought there was going to be a promotional offer for the GWTW poster but either it is missing from my set or they changed their mind about that as there is no mention anywhere on the outer listing of items about any such offer.)


Now, all that wasn't enough, we now get to the heart of the box, the very lovely (and STURDY) foldout containing the Blu-ray disc containing the movie, the Blu disc with the extras, and the double-sided DVD that has the fabulous 6-hour documentary, "MGM: When the Lion Roars." (This latter item is exclusive to the Blu-ray sets of GWTW and Wizard of Oz, not available in the standard sets.)


I've done a selective scene perusal of the movie and, rest assured, the high definition print is beautiful. The work done on this really shows. The scenes may not jump out at you screaming how much it has been restored, but when you look at the sharpness, the clean clarity of the picture, you know that unless you have seen it in the theatre you have never seen it looking so good.


One weakness is in the audio. Though it has a Dolby True HD track, I found myself having to crank up the volume to be heard normally.


The movie comes with the commentary by Rudy Behlmer form the previous DVD release.


The movie is alone on the first disc. The goodies are all on the second one...


From what I can see, the bulk of them have been ported over from the DVD prior edition, but now we also get to enjoy the wonderful documentary, "1939: Hollywood's Greatest Year" and the made-for-TV drama of "Moviola: The Scarlett O'Hara War." I haven't seen the latter since the Moviola mini-series first aired those decades ago, and I groaned inwardly as I watched the opening credits and saw who was cast in some of the most important roles (Tony Curtis as Selznick, Sharon Gless as Carole Lombard, to name two), but upon starting to view it, I found myself enjoying it for what it was. (And, happily, the video quality is far superior to that of The Dreamer of Oz, the John Ritter TV-movie in the Oz set.)


Be happy, this box set is all you could hope it would be.



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