XenForo Template Lerner and Lowe’s musical treatment of the Arthurian Legend never quite worked on film like it did on the stage, but the Blu-ray release of “Camelot” comes together quite nicely, with a great audio and video presentation and a solid - if largely conventional - set of extras. Camelot Release Date: April 24, 2012 Studio: Warner Home Video Year: 1967 Rating: NR Running Time: 3:00:18 MSRP: $35.99 THE FEATURE EXTRAS Video AVC: 1080p high definition 2.40:1 Standard and high definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 Stereo and mono Subtitles English SDH, French, Spanish Same The Feature: 3.5/5 Like most kids, I first heard about King Arthur when I was in grade school, but it wasn’t until my teens that I developed an abiding fascination with the medieval British legend. My interest was piqued in large part because my closest friends were cast in our high school’s production of Lerner and Loewe’s stage musical, “Camelot” (which itself is based on T.H. White’s “The Once and Future King”). Though I was certainly familiar with the outline of the Arthurian Legend – of how a humble boy comes to great power, unites a kingdom, and then ultimately sees it come to ruin – it was the way the mythic tale was told in very human (and highly singable) terms that ultimately made the legend come to life. In an effort to keep the magic of that stage experience alive, I bought the 1960 original Broadway musical cast recording, which features Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet as Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, respectively. My heady high school nostalgia notwithstanding, it wasn’t long before the Broadway production became cemented in my mind as the definitive “Camelot,” even though I only had studio recorded musical numbers to go by. While I was aware of the 1967 film adaptation with Richard Harris as Arthur, Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere and Franco Nero as Lancelot, its ho-hum reputation far preceded it and I was reluctant to listen to musical numbers that could never outmatch those featuring Andrews. Eventually I did watch Director Joshua Logan’s film, and though its shortcomings didn’t prove so powerful as to undo my love for the original musical, it certainly was no contest when it came to the performances. While Harris made for an appropriately regal Arthur, and Redgrave’s beauty was breathtaking, the constant “talk-singing” style of performance, particularly from Redgrave, made for a difficult viewing (or rather listening) experience. Even without resorting to such unfair comparisons that pit a singer vs. a non-singer, the film has a notable lack of magic and charm that even its opulent production design and wardrobe can’t make up for. Criticisms around the too-stagy direction or tepid chemistry between Redgrave and Nero are merely symptoms of a greater problem – the failure to convey the mix of myth and humanity that made the stage play so compelling. I concede that after my high school experience and subsequent attachment to the cast recording, that my objectivity about “Camelot” has been horribly compromised. I actually went to see a touring production of the musical when I was in college, and that didn’t pass muster either, so ultimately Warner Brothers’ film never had a fighting chance. Consequently, the best advice I can offer for those who haven’t seen the movie, is to make sure, if at all possible, to watch it before anything else. To do otherwise is just an open invitation for disappointment. Video Quality: 4/5 Framed at an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, the AVC-encoded, 1080p transfer features strong black levels and the full range of contrast, though the image seems to struggle a bit during the film’s darkest scenes and settings. Colors have a bold and pleasing richness, and fine object detail impresses in both the film’s ornate costuming and panoramic wide shots. The picture can look a little soft on occasion (like in the opening titles), though generally speaking the image is nicely sharp and clear, with no evidence of excessive digital processing measures. Audio Quality: 4/5 Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is consistently clear, detailed and intelligible. Surround activity is mostly reserved for supporting the score, though the effect is nicely balanced, giving the presentation an enveloping sound stage. LFE is non-existent, but the track exhibits solid depth and fullness, particularly during the many musical sequences. Special Features: 3.5/5 The extras include the requisite historical pieces on the development and production of the film, vintage promotional artifacts, a somewhat useless CD soundtrack sampler, and the now-familiar Warner Brothers “DigiBook” collectible booklet. Overall there aren’t too many surprises to be found, with the value of the extras ultimately dependent on one’s appreciation for the film itself. Commentary by Stephen Farber: The film critic and author delivers a solid commentary filled with plentiful historical context and background, though he comes off as a little too complimentary at times and has a slight tendency to merely restate the plot. Given the length of the film, the track will likely be accessed by only the most devoted fans. Camelot: Falling Kingdoms (29:59, HD): The 2012 documentary traces the history of the production, describes how it coincided with the end of the studio system, and how its box office failure contributed to the resignation of Jack Warner as the head of Warner Brothers Studio. The Story of Camelot (9:45, SD): Vintage 1967 behind-the-scenes promotional piece. The World Premiere of Camelot (29:04, SD): Vintage 1967 TV special covering the film’s premiere. Trailers Theatrical Trailer #1 (2:06, SD) Theatrical Trailer #2 (1:04, SD) Theatrical Trailer #3 (3:10, SD) Theatrical Trailer #4 (3:17, SD) Theatrical Trailer #5 (:26, SD) Camelot Soundtrack CD Sampler: Includes four tracks – 1) I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight 2) Camelot and the Wedding Ceremony 3) How to Handle a Woman 4) If Ever I Would Leave You - Love Montage. It’s telling that the disc does not include any of Redgrave’s musical numbers. Collectible Book: The nicely produced book-that-is-the-packaging includes cast and crew biographies, background on the production, trivia, and numerous photographs. Recap The Feature: 3.5/5 Video Quality: 4/5 Audio Quality: 4/5 Special Features: 3.5/5 Overall Score (not an average): 3.5/5 Warner Home Video delivers a strong audio and video presentation for “Camelot,” the film adaptation of the popular Lerner and Loewe stage musical that retells the story of King Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot. The special features cover the requisite range of topics, from the historical to the promotional, making for a release that offers few surprises, but one that should please existing fans of the film.