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Blu-ray Reviews

The Robe Blu-Ray Special Edition



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#1 of 30 Michael Osadciw

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Posted March 30 2009 - 04:05 PM



Blu-ray Disc Review





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THE ROBE
SPECIAL EDITION


Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Film Year: 1953
Film Length: 134 minutes
Genre: Drama

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
Colour/B&W: Colour

BD Specifications:
Resolution: 1080/24p
Video Codec: AVC @ 21MBPS
Disc Size: BD-50

Audio:
  • English DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio
  • English Dolby Digital 4.0 Surround
  • French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • Portuguese Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono

    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean
    Film Rating: Unrated







  • Release Date: March 17, 2009.


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

    Starring: Richard Burton (Marcellus Gallio), Jean Simmons (Diana), Victor Mature (Demetrius)

    Screenplay by: Albert Maltz & Philip Dunne
    Directed by: Henry Koster



    The Robe is a fictional story about a Roman Centurion whose life changed after he crucified Christ and won his robe in a gambling game at the foot of the cross. His guilt overcomes him as he is sent on a mission to investigate Christ’s followers as a merchant and search for to destroy the robe that cursed him. In his journey he learns about peace and forgiveness that contradict the views of the Roman Empire and the evil Emperor Caligula. Many people to this day wonder what happened to the robe Christ wore when he died. This film is based on the novel of what the author thought of could be a good story as to what happened to the robe.

    The film was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor, Costume Design in colour, Art Direction in colour) and won the last two.


    Posted ImageVIDEO QUALITY: 3.5/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    Much effort has been placed in the restoration of The Robe. Past editions of the film have not looked too good, and now that good restoration tools are available, The Robe received the treatment it needed. The result is an image that is respectable. The conditions of elements vary and the very good surviving pieces tend to show the known technical limitations of the anamorphic lens used for this film. Based on the featurettes on this BD, The Robe didn’t get one of the sharpest anamorphic lenses. While resolution is good, it wasn’t as sharp as the second Cinemascope feature How to Marry a Millionaire. Image contrast and colour check out ok with these elements but dupes appear dimmer and not as naturally saturated. What is also noticeable about the lens is the distortion at the far edges and in the middle; the image gets skinny to the sides and fatter in the middle. When viewing the 4:3 full screen version as a comparison, one can see that Richard Burton’s face is probably more accurate, but of course you lose the scope of the widescreen presentation (the 4:3 version with mono audio can only be viewed in the smaller BonusView window and not separately). Note that this is the original photography for the film, and a great amount of effort has been placed in restoring The Robe and one will appreciate the work completed here.


    Posted ImageAUDIO QUALITY: 3/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image

    At one time the sound has been repurposed for 5.1. My guess is that this had to have been a 6-channel recording in its day: five channels across the front, one in the rear. Dialogue is very directional and is placed with the actors on screen. The effect works wonders for those with large screens and a wide speaker spread, or even better – with speakers behind the screen (in my opinion too much video resolution is lost with the latter because of perforation). I like this technique because it’s much better than restricting dialogue to the center channel only. The directional dialogue of The Robe, it’s not always stable; every now and then dialogue wavers back and forth in a floating space, say, between center and 75% left. Its movement doesn’t always correspond with movement on screen. It sort of takes me out of the moment. At other times imaging is good, although my center speaker is placed below the tweeters of my mains, the phantom image was shifted down slightly.

    Another strange effect is how dialogue at 100% left and 100% right isn’t always exactly “hard” left and right. Its phase is different…rather than coming from the precise speaker location, the voice seems to float in front of me on that axis, exactly half the distance between the speaker and I (about 5 feet from me). It’s like a third dimension in sound but rather being placed far back into the soundstage, it’s forward and almost in my face. The music and sound effects don’t appear to be affected by this oddity.

    The original sound design sounds fairly good in terms of design, but the soundtrack does not have the warm, thick sound we hear more and more as soundtracks continue to evolve. Lacking a nice round bottom end makes The Robe feel thin, weak, and in need of a little fattening. Listening to The Robe can be a bit sibilant at high volumes. Alfred Newman’s score has some directionality with channels, but I found it based too much in the center channel. If my center speaker was placed behind the screen, it may have been a bit better, but I prefer music from left and right channels only with 100% phantom imaging.

    TACTILE FUN!!: 0/5 ZERO

    TRANSDUCER ON/OFF?: OFF

    I didn’t notice anything in the LFE channel. If there was it was too subtle. Use of a bass shaker is unnecessary.


    Posted ImageSPECIAL FEATURES: 4/5 Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image


    Many of the features here are about Fox’s use of Cinemascope for this film. Since it was the first Cinemascope film, devoting time to this topic is not a mistake. I found the features well organized and very informing and worth the watch. It was sometimes tough to skip through these educational spots. My only complaint is the menu to navigate these features; it’s hard to read on the film when overlaid. I also found using the left and right arrows a bit bothersome when going into submenus, I sometimes hit the wrong arrow key repeatedly based on how I thought the key should have functioned.

  • Introduction by Martin Scorsese - about the use of Cinemascope
  • Commentary with film composer David Newman and Film Historian Jon Burlingame, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
  • Isolated Score: The Music of the Robe – Alfred Newman’s Score in 5.1 (most music, some absent)
  • The Making of the Robe featurette (HD, 31:23)
  • The Cinemascope Story featurette (HD, 18:39)
  • From Scripture to Script: The Bible and Hollywood featurette (HD, 24:39)
  • Audio Interview with Screenwriter Philip Dunne (1969) (audio only, 22:33)

  • BONUSView Picture in Picture - a comparison of widescreen and standard version. It is introduced as a different version of the film, with different takes and different lines, and I caught this while watching it before even knowing the full frame version was a different version. For example in Chapter 15, 1:37:37 face Marcipor is seen less and the folds on Diana’s dress are different. A little more image can be seen on the top and bottom of frame too.

  • BONUSView Picture in Picture - A Seamless Faith: The Real-Life Search for The Robe interactive featurette (SD 1.78:1, 38:08) – the ten segments of this feature can be played through the film or independently. With various historians, scholars, and linguists, they discuss the real life search of the robe and who claims to have it today.

  • Advertising the Robe includes vintage celebrity introductions (SD 4:3 1m35), five Fox Movietonewes spots (SD 4:3), Trailers and TV spots (SD widescreen), interactive press book, poster gallery, lobby cards, publicity stills (all in HD).


    IN THE END...

    The Robe is not one of my favourite films in the history of cinema, but it is a pivotal success for Fox’s continued success, the fight against television, and the continuation of widescreen films in the years to come. Fox’s work on this film is good and the result is a large step above what was available in the past. The film did have its technical limitations at the time and inconsistencies can be seen on this disc, but the final result is a good job that is a pleasure to view.

    Michael Osadciw
    March 30, 2009.

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    #2 of 30 Virgoan

    Virgoan

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    Posted April 01 2009 - 03:25 AM

    "How to Marry A Millionaire" was shot with the same CinemaScope lenses as "The Robe". The sharpness differences were not due to any learning curve, I'm pretty certain, since the former was shot before the latter. Possibly, the studio lights in a modern setting did the trick toward the sharpness you note. Leon Shamroy's photography on "The Robe" tended to strive toward "source" lighting for an effect that lends an authenticity to the antiquity of the story, IMO.

    #3 of 30 RolandL

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    Posted April 01 2009 - 11:32 AM

    "My guess is that this had to have been a 6-channel recording in its day: five channels across the front, one in the rear. "

    I don't think The Robe was ever released in 70mm. 35mm CinemaScope was 4-channel, three across the front and one in the rear.

    Roland Lataille
    Cinerama web site

     


    #4 of 30 Stephen_J_H

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    Posted April 01 2009 - 12:16 PM

    Hence the 4.0 track included as a feature.
    "My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

    #5 of 30 john a hunter

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    Posted April 01 2009 - 12:20 PM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by RolandL
    ". 35mm CinemaScope was 4-channel, three across the front and one in the rear.

    So it was, although you will never know it from this otherwise excellent release.Where is the 4th rear or effects track as it was called at the time? Today it is called surround. There is simply no use of this track in the "restoration".Has it been lost?
    When I first saw a mag print, I clearly remember thunder rolling around the theatre during the crucifixion.Only the odd echo here. Did no one realise? Did anyone care? This film would have been a showcase for "surround"in 1953. Fox would hardly have gone to the trouble to get exhibitors to install speakers around the auditorium at considerable expense and then not use it.

    It's a shame that Schawn Belston is not around now to answer these questions.

    #6 of 30 Jefferson

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    Posted April 12 2009 - 07:20 AM

    I think this incarnation shows THE ROBE as I've never seen it before....more than acceptable, clear and full of interesting special features, including an especially interesting commentary track.
    True, when you view the standard version "picture in picture", you can see much more vibrant color, far less muddy than the Cinemascope version.
    All in all, a very successful release.

    #7 of 30 DeeF

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    Posted April 16 2009 - 09:55 AM

    This movie certainly looks odd. No actual reds in the movie. Was that intended? The Roman soldiers' capes and helmet feathers are brown.

    I guess it's the best it has looked in a long time, but I could hardly watch it.

    #8 of 30 dvdirv

    dvdirv

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    Posted April 17 2009 - 04:10 AM

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Virgoan
    "How to Marry A Millionaire" was shot with the same CinemaScope lenses as "The Robe". The sharpness differences were not due to any learning curve, I'm pretty certain, since the former was shot before the latter. Possibly, the studio lights in a modern setting did the trick toward the sharpness you note. Leon Shamroy's photography on "The Robe" tended to strive toward "source" lighting for an effect that lends an authenticity to the antiquity of the story, IMO.
    According to the CinemaScope documentary on THE ROBE, this film did get a poorer lens than HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE.

    Fox signed with Henri Chretien for the rights to his anamorphic process. Although they were in the public domain, Fox signed because they would have immediate access to Chretien's lenses. They were not geometrically exactly the same as the documentary pointed out. THE ROBE got the poorest one.

    How can you verify that THE ROBE was shot with the very same lenses?

    #9 of 30 Virgoan

    Virgoan

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    Posted April 19 2009 - 06:37 AM

    I don't remember that distinction being made. I know that "The Robe" was intended to be the big picture of the year for Fox and that Fox intended to release it first even though "How to Marry A Millionaire" was finished first. I guess I thought it would have been insane to shoot "The Robe" with a poorer quality lens given that film's higher profile.

    #10 of 30 Mark Collins

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    Posted February 16 2010 - 09:00 AM

    Lent begins Wednesday and I just had to comment on the Robe blu-ray.  The Robe has always been my favorite with Quo Vadis running a very strong second.  To get both on Blu-ray last year was a fantastic treat.

     The Robe I want to thank 20th Century Fox for a great restoration!!!!  I have bought the Robe in VHS pan and scan then in letter box and then the DVD.

    I watched the movie several times and each time was thrilled with things I had never seen before. I hope Fox is going to restore Demetrius and the Gladiators.  I read here that one dvd version was better then the first one.   

    I also hope Fox will release The Song Of Bernadette in Blue-ray some day. 

    Well once again as I assemble my Lent movie collection I hope Ben Hur The Ten Commandments and King Of Kings will all be out next year in Blu ray.  

    So once again Thankyou Fox !!!


    #11 of 30 Adam Gregorich

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    Posted February 16 2010 - 03:09 PM

    Here is a link to a chat we had with Fox about this title: http://www.hometheat...y-march-16-2009

    #12 of 30 Mark Collins

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    Posted February 17 2010 - 12:16 PM

    Adam thankyou very much for the link.  I remember when The Robe debuted on the ABC Sunday Night Movie.  Back when each network had a feature film playing 7 days a week.  I think NBC was first to air feature films with Saturday Night At the Movies.

    I also remember a great many Fox classic's playing on that night.  The Day The Earth Stood Still scared me to death and I was up all night.  Later it seemed Universal was the dominate force over there. 

    I think "Name Of The Game" was the first made for TV Movie on NBC.   I believe ABC coined the phrase  "Movie of the Week"  because every Wednesday in the late 60's and 70's a 90 minute movie aired.  I think Stripe's or Brian's Song were the first two.   

    My local Chicago Station WGN had some sort of Fox deal.  The great classic's from the studio used to play every Friday Night after the News.  That is where I found and fell forever in love with Marilyn Monroe. 

    WGN had "Family Classic's" on Sunday afternoon's and showed many Fox Films but MGM as well.  The 1970s WGN must have struck a deal with Universal because they played all the great monster films on "Creature Feature's"

    WLS had a deal for "King Kong" and played it once every year. I caught it just by chance a few years ago still playing on WLS.  

    I forgot to mention the friendly car dealer Sunday Morning Movie. The cheap movies.  I am afraid I am not that old to remember the westerns playing I guess every day.   I grew up on Captain Kangarroo.



    #13 of 30 Rob_Ray

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    Posted February 18 2010 - 03:32 AM

    I remember the network premiere of "The Robe" very well.  ABC treated it as a major television event, with extra-lengthy commercials designed specifically for that airing at the beginning and ending and only one extra-lengthy commercial interruption within the film itself presented as an "intermission."  Brief introductions showing a family gathered around their television set as the narrator explained the special presentation aired at the opening and at the break.  This method of presentation gave the whole thing a "roadshow" aura that made you feel like you were experiencing something very special indeed.  It all seems like another era now.

    #14 of 30 Mark Collins

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    Posted March 31 2010 - 04:37 PM

    Rob sorry so late.  Your thoughts on the Robe were on target.  It is a Easter Sunday tradition for me.  I watch it now before Easter too.   The Restoration on that film is just great!!!!!

    Thankyou 20th Century Fox!!!

    #15 of 30 plinfesty

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    Posted August 14 2010 - 06:34 PM

    So how does one access the SOUND of the Bonus View?  All I get is the sound of the HD Master audio (or any of the other 5 tracks I happen to choose.  There's cleaqrly people talking about the history in the PIP, but its silent.



    #16 of 30 Matt Hough

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    Posted August 15 2010 - 02:30 AM



    Originally Posted by plinfesty 

    So how does one access the SOUND of the Bonus View?  All I get is the sound of the HD Master audio (or any of the other 5 tracks I happen to choose.  There's cleaqrly people talking about the history in the PIP, but its silent.


    You have to change your Blu-ray player's audio setup to allow your player to decode the audio instead of sending it out via bitstream. The player will mix the audio and send it out via PCM.
     



    #17 of 30 Mark Collins

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    Posted March 23 2011 - 10:35 AM

    Just wanted again to express my thanks to 20th Century Fox again for the restoration of the Robe.  I have watched it this year during lent 3 times already.  I love this classic movie.  I look forward to Easter when I will watch this great movie again.  I hope Fox will in time release Demetrius and the Gladiators in HD.  I also want Song of Bernadette and the all time classic LAURA.

    I have read rumors that Marilyn Monroe Films will be release in HD next year. I hope this is true for I am a huge Marilyn fan.


    #18 of 30 Adam Gregorich

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    Posted March 23 2011 - 10:59 AM

    Some Like It Hot is coming May 10th



    #19 of 30 Mark Collins

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    Posted March 29 2011 - 09:58 AM

    Adam I was not even aware of the fact until I read your post today.  Thankyou so very very much!!!  I put in my pre order minutes ago.



    #20 of 30 Michael Osadciw

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    Posted April 02 2011 - 09:13 AM

    wow...looks like I'll need to reformat my review post.  somehow it didn't survive in it's original form!!


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