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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: Battle of Britain

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 16 Michael Osadciw

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Posted May 19 2008 - 02:36 AM



Blu-ray Disc Review




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BATTLE OF BRITAIN

Posted Image
Distributor: 20th Century Fox/MGM
Original Release: 1969
Length: 132 min
Genre: War/Action/Historical
Film Rating: G

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Colour/B&W: Colour

BD Specifications:
Resolution: 1080/24p
Video Codec: MPEG-2 @ 18MBPS
Disc Size: BD-25

Audio:
  • English DTS-Master Audio 5.1 Surround
  • English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
  • English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround with full Sir William Walton Score Mix
  • French Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround

    Subtitles: English, Spanish, Cantonese, Korean

    Posted Image





  • Release Date: June 03, 2008.


    Film Rating: Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image


    Starring: Michael Caine (Squadron Leader Canfield), Laurence Olivier (Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding), Christopher Plummer (Squadron Leader Colin Harvey), Susannah York (Section Officer Maggie Harvey)

    Written by: Wilfred Greatorex & James Kennaway
    Directed by: Guy Hamilton



    A World War II period film, Battle of Britain tells the courageous story of the R.A.F.: the British pilots who faced the continuous bombing of the Germans in their quest to conquer Europe. The Germans believed that to take on Britain they must clear the skies first. The British were outnumbered with 2500 German planes to 650 of their own, but despite these damaging odds they were determined to protect their homeland and take out the Heinkel 111 bombers with their Spitfires. The all-star cast lead the pilots against the experienced German fighters who, despite having tactic, never quite manage to create the destruction they were hoping for. With Freddie Young as director of photography, he delivers edge-of-your seat fight sequences that would never be shot in a film today. It’s a film that is absolutely worth the watch.


    Posted Image
    VIDEO QUALITY: 4/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    I think it’s a bit of a treasure to watch older films in HD. Since the market is flooded with newer films with actors and actresses we see quite regularly, I liken watching older films as looking through a time tunnel. It’s a chance to look back at past filmmaking and legendary actors and actresses with little obstruction to the view. That obstruction, of course, is the delivery technology. Since HD now provides a much clearer window into the past, I can feel transported back to that time. I also consider it to be a true addition to my library of film archives, on Blu-ray disc of course. Battle of Britain is one such example. The level of clarity is remarkable and I think Fox has done a great job in delivering this product. The three dimensional image will blow you away whether you are in a Spitfire shooting away at the Germans or pushing buttons in the control room. Image contrast is very good; the picture is bright without appearing clipped and the black levels are deep and appear accurate. Deep in the night when the fire trucks speed around in London’s streets putting out fires from the German bombers, the shimmer of the streetlights and their reflections on the ground contrast nicely with the blackness of the night, all the while not loosing a sense of depth, colour, and detail. Skin tones are amazingly wonderful and don’t have a pasty look I was sort of expecting to see. Susannah York’s wide-eye gazes have never looked so beautiful to me and her skin is fairer than that of the gentlest angels (ok, I stretched that one, but you get the idea.) This is a wonderful image that you will be drawn into. Grain structure is revealing and perfect, most noticeably against the blue skies. Whatever nitpicks one may have against this image is in the film source itself. While extremely clean and void of major artefacts, there is a slight glowing around objects when contrasted with the sky. It’s not the dreaded video-related edge enhancement. It varies in size as it depends on the size of the object it surrounds, but it can be mostly seen in scenes at the airfield and in the sky. Of course, the picture quality of the opening and closing credits does not match that of the rest of the film because they are third generation dupes and normal for the era. You’ll notice a dimmer and murkier image with its colour a bit out of whack. Subtitles are not burned in on the screen; they are created electronically by the player.

    It’s great to see a film with real men in parachutes falling, and with real airplanes flying and crashing rather than the fake and unrealistic CGI we see too often. This must have been a tough shoot. The aspect ratio of this magic is 2.35:1.


    Posted Image
    AUDIO QUALITY: 4/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    There are three soundtrack options to choose from: the original mono, the 5.1 repurposing, and the same 5.1 presentation, sound effects and all with the original Sir William Walton score (not isolated). The Ron Goodman score with the theatrical soundtrack is a lossless DTS-HDMA encode while the Walton score is lossy Dolby Digital. It would have been nice if Fox had presented the Walton score with lossless audio as well. Let me tell you why: I prefer the Walton Score. Even though it’s not as long as the Goodman score and there are many scenes with silence, the silence makes the scenes much more effective. The Goodman score is very busy, loud, and almost in your face with horns and the like. It appears in the background of dialogue scenes when it would have been best left silent. I also don’t think the cheery, patriotic themed score fit during those scenes.

    I feel it’s safe to say that the soundtrack of this film has been repurposed very nicely for a 5.1 presentation. The lossless encode presents a stellar music mix with wide dynamics and very good phantom imaging of the orchestral arrangement. Bass is respectable, the midrange flourishes, and the high frequencies don’t sound dated. I could close my eyes and think that this music mix was recorded for a modern film, with the only exceptions being the instruments chosen and how they are used…even film scores “date themselves” like pop music.

    Contrasted with the music, the sound effects are a bit dated sounding, but not objectionably so. While a bit thin, I’d still say they are fairly balanced in frequency; dynamics are their limitation. Sound effects are spread across the front three channels and are used effectively to create ambience and a wide soundstage. Some of those sounds are used in the surround channel as well – and I’ll mention the effects in the rear are discrete from each other rather than monaural. They aren’t mixed as loud as the front, but they do provide that subtle ambience during action scenes and even during the long, quiet, waiting moments of pilots waiting at their posts. The wind and the insects can be heard swirling around.

    TACTILE FUN!! Posted Image / Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image
    TACTILE TRANSDUCER ON/ON?: OFF

    Just a little bit.


    Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES: ZERO/5

    Nothing here. Not even a theatrical trailer.


    IN THE END...

    You will not be disappointed with Battle for Britain. In fact I can’t wait to check out the other four war titles Fox is releasing the same day: A Bridge Too Far, The Longest Day, Patton, and The Sand Pebbles. I’m sure Fox has put in the same effort for those titles as well. Great picture, great sound, I must recommend Battle of Britain.

    Michael Osadciw
    May 19, 2008.

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    #2 of 16 Robert Harris

    Robert Harris

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    Posted May 19 2008 - 04:37 AM

    Michael...

    Actually, quite a number of model aircraft used in the shoot.

    And it should look terrific, as it was photographed by the incomparable Freddie Young, BSC.

    Can't wait to see this one.

    "All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


    #3 of 16 Aaron Silverman

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    Posted May 19 2008 - 04:47 AM

    Is Fox asking me to pay $40 to upgrade a 2-disc special edition with perfectly good PQ to a BD with no extras whatsoever?

    (Yes, that's a rhetorical question. Posted Image )
    "How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

    #4 of 16 Jari K

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    Posted May 19 2008 - 05:50 AM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aaron Silverman
    Is Fox asking me to pay $40 to upgrade a 2-disc special edition with perfectly good PQ to a BD with no extras whatsoever?

    Here we go again!

    Aaron, my advice is to buy this from e.g. Amazon.com, where it´s $27.95. So no, Fox is not asking you to "pay $40".

    #5 of 16 Edwin-S

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    Posted May 19 2008 - 06:01 AM

    He did say it was rhetorical. It looked like a tongue-in-cheek question, posted in advance of the complaints about FOX's pricing strategy that are sure to follow.
    "You bring a horse for me?" "Looks like......looks like we're shy of one horse." "No.......You brought two too many."

    #6 of 16 Michael Osadciw

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    Posted May 19 2008 - 09:21 AM

    Robert

    I saw some model aircraft, but there was probably more than I caught. Models fool my eye, CGI doesn't! Great integration of the models.

    Mike

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    #7 of 16 Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford

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    Posted May 19 2008 - 09:25 AM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jari K
    Here we go again!

    Aaron, my advice is to buy this from e.g. Amazon.com, where it´s $27.95. So no, Fox is not asking you to "pay $40".
    I'll take the bait.Posted Image That's still $10 too high! This title will have to wait for a sale due to principle of the matter. The same applies to "A Bridge Too Far".





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    #8 of 16 Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw

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    Posted May 19 2008 - 12:28 PM

    ohhh man... :S

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    #9 of 16 Douglas Monce

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    Posted May 19 2008 - 12:48 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Robert Crawford
    I'll take the bait.Posted Image That's still $10 too high! This title will have to wait for a sale due to principle of the matter. The same applies to "A Bridge Too Far".





    Crawdaddy


    Agreed.

    Doug
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    #10 of 16 Jari K

    Jari K

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    Posted May 19 2008 - 05:36 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Robert Crawford
    I'll take the bait.Posted Image That's still $10 too high!

    Posted Image

    Yes, I would say, that they should sell these at "max 20$", at least those that have no extras. Again, I feel that this is one of their "older titles" (I believe announced long time ago? - May, 2007 if I´m not mistaken) like "Commando" and "Predator" and all these are missing extras for some reason. It´s sad, of course.

    #11 of 16 GJN

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    Posted May 20 2008 - 01:03 AM

    Great film. Can hardly wait for my copy.

    #12 of 16 Jeff Swindoll

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    Posted May 20 2008 - 02:12 AM

    At least with Patton and the Longest Day they include the SE stuff on a standard disc (aka a DVD). They dropped everything on Battle and Bridge, sigh. I wonder if this has to do with those two titles being MGM and the rest being Fox?? You'd think if they bought MGM they bought the SE stuff too right? Perhaps it's just laziness on the Fox Blu division.

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    #13 of 16 Aaron Silverman

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    Posted May 20 2008 - 06:58 AM

    $40, $27, it's still WAY too much for my taste. $15 is about my limit these days. It's not like I don't have 1000 DVDs I never got around to watching.

    I am pretty much not upgrading anything unless it's an all-time favorite (in, say, my top 20) anyway.
    "How wonderful it will be to have a leader unburdened by the twin horrors of knowledge and experience." -- Mr. Wick

    #14 of 16 Brandon Conway

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    Posted May 20 2008 - 07:50 AM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Aaron Silverman
    Is Fox asking me to pay $40 to upgrade a 2-disc special edition with perfectly good PQ to a BD with no extras whatsoever?

    (Yes, that's a rhetorical question. Posted Image )
    No. MGM is asking you. Posted Image

    "And now the reprimand, from an American critic. He reproaches me for using film as a sacred & lasting medium, like a painting or a book. He does not believe that filmmaking is an inferior art, but he believes, and quite rightly, that a reel goes quickly, that the public are looking above all for relaxation, that film is fragile and that it is pretentious to express the power of one's soul by such ephemeral and delicate means, that Charlie Chaplin's or Buster Keaton's first films can only be seen on very rare and badly spoiled prints. I add that the cinema is making daily progress and that eventually films that we consider marvelous today will soon be forgotten because of new dimensions & colour. This is true. But for 4 weeks this film [The Blood of a Poet] has been shown to audiences that have been so attentive, so eager & so warm, that I wonder after all there is not an anonymous public who are looking for more than relaxation in the cinema." - Jean Cocteau, 1932


    #15 of 16 MatthewA

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    Posted May 20 2008 - 12:56 PM

    Fox did not buy MGM. They own no part of MGM. MGM just switched its distribution deal away from Sony.

    Enough is enough, Disney. No more evasions or excuses. We DEMAND the release Song of the South on Blu-ray along with the uncut version of Bedknobs and Broomsticks on Blu-ray. I will not support anything your company produces until then.


    #16 of 16 Jari K

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    Posted July 05 2011 - 06:43 PM

    This has been re-released (like several others, I guess): http://www.amazon.co.../dp/B003ZD9DU2/ My question is, that does this 2-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo include any extras? My apologies, if there's a thread about these re-releases already..





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