A Few Words About A few words about...™ The Great Escape -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, May 8, 2013.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,346
    Likes Received:
    5,275
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    XenForo Template

    "I don't think it matters what his motives were. It was a brilliant bit of soldiering."The Great Escape has always been a sort of "event" film. Overflowing with the faces of some of the greatest British cinematic talent. Faces for which one may not be able to attach a name, but faces that you will see again and again through decades of British productions.Add to that a few recognizable faces from The Colonies -- Steve McQueen, James Garner, James Coburn -- and you're in for a treat.With top drawer production values as wrangled by Walter Mirisch, an amazingly intelligent screenplay, great direction from John Sturges, Daniel Fapp's cinematography, and that score by the incomparable Elmer Bernstein, and the end result is not only an extraordinary piece of entertainment, but one of the finest films about WWII.I've just spent some quality time with MGM's new Blu-ray. For the record, I have no inside information as to what was done. I can only relate what my eyes are telling me.There is no doubt that this is a digital presentation, but so are many other catalog titles as they're prepped for Blu-ray and DCPs. It's a safe bet that The Great Escape was photographed on Eastman 5250, the first color negative stock to have a decent lifespan, as if kept well, it doesn't have horrible fade characteristics. Some of the most important films ever created have been shot on 5250.Dupes, for both opticals as well as built-in printer functions are a problem, but they are what they are. I would love to have seen this film built for A / B roll printing, but apparently that wasn't the case printing to Eastman color direct positive in 1963.The Great Escape is 172 minutes long, and I was troubled by a single shot that I might have tried to massage just a bit.Other than that, understanding the age of the elements, wear and tear, and obvious digital work performed, I'm thrilled with MGM's presentation. "Grain" levels are acceptable, color looks correct, contrast and black levels, inclusive of those for dupes, are within a comfortable range for a 5250-based production.Audio, provided in DTS-HD MA 5.1 beautifully, and fully, reproduces the rich tones of the original.I'll make the point again. I have no idea what digital tools were used to create this new version of The Great Escape, but I'm seeing nothing untoward, nothing distressful, and nothing with an obvious overzealous digital bent.As an aside, I cannot see James Donald in anything without thinking of this quote which came just before the intermission of a film with similar story lines:"By the way, sir, I meant to tell you, there are trees in this forest very similar to elm. And the elm piles of London Bridge lasted six hundred years."This is a terrific presentation of a classic film that beautifully stands the test of time, as presented by MGM on a beautifully crafted Blu-ray disc.Note: I was contacted after this posting by Mr. Koster, who feels that another appropriate quote would be "Madness! Madness!" I concur, although his quote may tie in toward the use of that wonderful marketing term, "restoration."After digesting everything that I've seen, I come away with the overall thoughts, "pretty," and to use a golfing term, MGM-"handicap." But whatever it is that's on screen, enlarged in projection, works in the overall, and no doubt represents a fine achievement for the studio, and the best that we are apt to ever see.There are multiple ways of considering this Blu-ray. None are incorrect.Image - 4.5Audio - 5Highly Recommended.RAH

     
    Rob_Ray likes this.
  2. Rob_Ray

    Rob_Ray Screenwriter
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2004
    Messages:
    1,821
    Likes Received:
    1,122
    Location:
    Southern California
    Real Name:
    Rob Ray
    Terrific news! At the price Amazon was charging, I bought without hesitation, and am glad that the results will be worth the price and more. It arrived last night and I hope to watch it this weekend. However, I must say I do miss the "special edition" packaging films such as this received on laserdisc (color gatefold jackets and then the full Criterion treatment) and even the earlier DVD. You'd never know from the bluray packaging that this was something that stands head and shoulders above most films. It looks like something that belongs in the clearance bins at WalMart.
     
  3. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 1997
    Messages:
    5,547
    Likes Received:
    214
    Location:
    DFW
    Real Name:
    Steve Tannehill
    And for a street price of $9.99, a true no-brainer. Thanks for the review!
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    29,428
    Likes Received:
    4,787
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    RAH,

    If cost wasn't a concern, could they have done more to improve the video presentation?
     
  5. Doctorossi

    Doctorossi Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2012
    Messages:
    841
    Likes Received:
    37
    Thanks, Robert! I can't wait to watch my copy. :)
     
  6. Richard V

    Richard V Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    2,108
    Likes Received:
    532
    Real Name:
    Richard
    Excellent news, my copy should arrive very soon, can't wait to watch it. One of my all time favorites.
     
  7. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    46,613
    Likes Received:
    4,486
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    Very happy to hear this news. I wrongfully overreacted to those
    that read other reviews on other sites that spouted very negative
    remarks concerning the transfer. I value Robert's opinion and
    appreciate reading the many other positive remarks coming from
    members just receiving their copy.

    Speaking of which...

    If you preordered your copy from Amazon at $14.99, I am certain
    you are aware the price dropped to $9.99 on the day of release.

    Amazon may have charged you $14.99, as they did me. I actually
    had to send an email to their CONTACT address to notify them of
    the price drop. As is always the case in these instances, Amazon
    acknowledged they should have charged me the lower price and
    I am being credited. Please be certain you were not overcharged.
     
  8. Richard V

    Richard V Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 14, 2009
    Messages:
    2,108
    Likes Received:
    532
    Real Name:
    Richard
    Ron, glad you mentioned this. I went to my account page, and they too charged me the 14.99 price, but when I scrolled down, I saw they had already caught their error and were in the process of giving me my overcharge credit. Classy company.
     
  9. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,346
    Likes Received:
    5,275
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    Robert,

    I can't answer that without examining the elements, but my gut reaction is possibly, but not a great deal. This is a nice effort.

    RAH
     
  10. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Messages:
    2,133
    Likes Received:
    680
    Location:
    London
    Real Name:
    Alan
    Well that's a turn up for the books after all the internet buzz. I did post a couple of months ago that I wanted this to look good, just good, not stunning. It didn't look stunning at the pictures, it looked...good, like all films did in those days. My fear was that it would get a revisionist grade, you know, in a bleak POW camp & a tragic ending, let's take half the colour out & make it nice & cool. It doesn't look like that's happend.
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
    Owner

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 1997
    Messages:
    46,613
    Likes Received:
    4,486
    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein
    I rarely buy any Blu-ray/DVD product from anyone
    except Amazon. They always back up what they sell
    and in cases like these, they will always make certain
    you get charged the lowest price from the day you
    preorder to the day it ships.
    Now back to discussing The Great Escape...
     
  12. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
    Moderator

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 1998
    Messages:
    29,428
    Likes Received:
    4,787
    Location:
    Michigan
    Real Name:
    Robert
    Thank you for the quick reply.

    Three different sites poo poo this release, but the HTF is the one that started to say hold up now. It's not that bad and is better than what some were saying about it.
     
    Chad Erickson, Steve...O and ahollis like this.
  13. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2002
    Messages:
    3,481
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    NJ
    Real Name:
    Ray
    When I saw all the negative reviews and compared the words to the screenshots, I could tell everyone was overreacting. I received my copy early and sampled some scenes over the weekend. It looked just fine to me. Good to know it has your approval, Robert!

    I hope reason will be enough to quell the angry mobs on the other forums!
     
  14. haineshisway

    haineshisway Producer

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Messages:
    3,191
    Likes Received:
    2,264
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Real Name:
    Bruce
    Glad to see this - as you know I wrote similar things yesterday in the other thread and a lengthy piece about it in my daily blog today.
     
  15. jsteed

    jsteed Extra

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2013
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    2
    Just finished watching the movie and am very impressed with the Bluray as well. I thought it was a major step up from the SE DVD. The DVD had a lot of digital noise while the Bluray has more detail and nice grain structure. Completely agree with RAH review.
     
  16. Reggie W

    Reggie W Cinematographer

    Joined:
    May 31, 2004
    Messages:
    2,364
    Likes Received:
    1,046
    Location:
    Pallookaville, USA
    Real Name:
    Gregory Arkadin
    I watched it last night and I have to admit with a film like this it is sometimes hard for me to nitpick the image when I am so caught up in the story. That said I had no complaints, could see grain present, did not think it looked overly manipulated but did recognize the "softness" of some shots. I chalked that up to the fact that is how the film always looked.

    Add all this to the fact that this blu-ray of a classic "event" film can be had for $5.00 at Best Buy right now and less than $10.00 most everywhere else and I would think people would have no problem snapping this up.
     
  17. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
    Reviewer

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 1999
    Messages:
    9,346
    Likes Received:
    5,275
    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    Great minds...
     
  18. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2009
    Messages:
    5,236
    Likes Received:
    1,614
    Location:
    Scotland
    Real Name:
    Malcolm
    So my question is this;

    I was reading the "other" site about Torsten Kaiser receiving the same master for his TV broadcast work in 2011 as of course reported at the "other" site, so did the master he receive which was apparently de-noised by an outside vendor, that's according to Torsten and it seems also contrast boosted among other things, well back on point and to my basic question, does this blu ray release come from a different master to the one Torsten Kaiser used for broadcast or is this the basis for this blu ray release. ?

    The review worries me, especially the remarks about it looking like a digital presentation, why can't it look more film like than digital, other releases do.
     
  19. Torsten Kaiser

    Torsten Kaiser Film Restoration & Preservation
    Insider

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2002
    Messages:
    100
    Likes Received:
    48
    Real Name:
    Film Restoration & Preservation
    AGAIN - one more time:

    [*]The author of the article in question used an interview (with another reviewer) which by now is almost 2 years old, and has ABSOLUTELY NO RELATION to the master of the Blu-ray WHATSOEVER.
    [*]I was never asked whether my (old) comments could be used.
    What is highly inapproriate, is that my comments were used despite that fact that these were solely regarding a completely different, High Definition master but were made to appear in the 2013 review of the new BD that they prove the point by the reviewer - i.e. that the product is bad. The catch is: I have never seen that BD or the new master, and my (old) comments were suggestively (mis)used by the author to "confirm" his arguments, something I utterly reject in both the way it was done and with regard to the content.

    [*]The master used by MGM for the new Blu-ray is a new one, based on a 4K scan. Again, I have yet to see it.
    [/list]
     
  20. Lromero1396

    Lromero1396 Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2012
    Messages:
    640
    Likes Received:
    33
    Thank you, sir!
     

Share This Page