-

Jump to content



Photo
Blu-ray Reviews

The Roots of Heaven Blu-ray Review



This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
47 replies to this topic

#1 of 48 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

  • 11,266 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted January 15 2012 - 09:55 AM

There isn’t the same kind of adventurous vitality in John Huston’s The Roots of Heaven that he planted in The African Queen even though both films were shot on the Dark Continent with their star casts subjected to the discomforts and frustrations of location shooting. The Roots of Heaven is much more a think piece along ecological boundaries. In fact, one would almost believe the film was shot in this century with its concentration on animal preservation and conservation of our natural resources. Those are the aspects of the film that stand out now, not the in many ways melodramatic and piecemeal storytelling.


http://static.hometh...um.com/imgrepo/


The Roots of Heaven (Blu-ray)
Directed by John Huston

Studio: Twilight Time/Fox
Year: 1958
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1   1080p   AVC codec
Running Time: 126 minutes
Rating: NR
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 English
Subtitles: none


Region: A
MSRP: $ 29.95



Release Date: January 17, 2012

Review Date: January 15, 2012




The Film

3.5/5


Outraged by the 30,000 elephants slaughtered each year in Africa at the hands of big game hunters and ivory poachers, Morel (Trevor Howard) first attempts to circulate a petition to outlaw such barbarism, but commercial interests in French Equatorial Africa thwart his every attempt. So, he throws down the gauntlet and becomes a crusading vigilante firing buckshot into the backsides of anyone he finds stalking the elephant herds. His one man war gets worldwide coverage from TV broadcaster Cy Sedgewick (Orson Welles), and he soon is joined by others crusading for elephant preservation (but some natives also with their own agendas to regain control of their countries from European imperialists). Peer Qvist (Friedrich Ledebur) and Minna (Juliette Greco) become his staunchest allies battling against one especially vengeful enemy Orsini (Herbert Lom) who’s working in tandem with African leader Waitari (Edric Connor) to bring own Morel and capture his ragtag bunch of anarchists.


Romain Gary (who adapted his own novel) and Patrick Leigh-Fermor write very interesting and enlightened pleas (for their era) into the script for plant and animal conservation, condemning mankind for his poisonous fingerprint on Earth’s shining face (mentioning atomic bombs and global pollution of water in addition to the pillaging of the animal herds in Africa). It has a very modern and sensitive vibe to it, hardly the story big game hunter John Huston might have been expected to bring to the screen. Yet, he does well by his heroes making them seem sensible and rational and everyone against them petty, stupid, and freakishly short-sighted. (In one of the film’s most delicious moments, a spoiled rich British woman at a jungle cotillion bragging about the elephant she brought down that day with three well-placed shots behind its ear is picked up by Friedrich Ledebur’s Peer Qvist, turned over his knee, and given twelve slaps on her rump for her impudence.) The film is quite talky and at over two hours, doesn’t have a lot of action to keep the audience’s attention, the ending particularly muddled and somewhat unsatisfying. The film's best moment, of course, is an extended sequence where ivory poachers out to slaughter a huge herd of elephants are surrounded by Morel’s band who fires shots to make the herds stampede away from their potential murderers. Huston films the action beautifully ramping up the tension as the angry hunters go looking for Morel and his band to attack them instead. Alas, this is the only sizable action moment in the movie.


Errol Flynn earns top billing as an alcoholic ex-British army officer who joins Morel’s cause, but he’s barely a presence in the movie filmed repeatedly swilling down bottles of booze instead of trying to establish a well-rounded character for himself. His years of various addictions weigh heavily on him making him seem far older than forty-nine which he was at the time of the filming. Trevor Howard is the film’s true star, and he’s earnest and dynamic as the driven Morel who’ll do anything to save the elephants from extermination. Eddie Albert enters the film quite late as an ace news photographer wanting to cover Morel’s story, and he’s as usual very good as the flippant wise guy who’ll do anything for a great shot. As the only major female presence in the film, Juliette Greco’s Minna is sincere but rather brittle in her naked infatuation with Morel. Orson Welles walks away with his couple of scenes as a blowhard news commentator (a sort of southern fried Edward R. Murrow), while Friedrich Ledebur gives admirable nobility to the loyal Peer Qvist.



Video Quality

4.5/5


The film’s Cinemascope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is faithfully transferred at 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. This is a handsome-looking transfer with a mostly sharp picture (only some insert vault footage of flying birds and some matte work show soft, ill-matching shots) and excellent color reproduction. Flesh tones vary a bit through the movie. They’re usually lifelike but can sometimes seem overly saturated and too brown. Apart from a slight scratch during the credits, the transfer is remarkably free of video artifacts. The film has been divided into 16 chapters. (Twilight Time has added specific chapter stops now and a chapter listing is part of the main menu.)



Audio Quality

3.5/5


The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound is an accurate and artifact-free (no hiss, crackle, pops, or flutter) representation of the soundtrack from this era. There isn’t a great deal of resonance to the dialogue, the sound effects, or Malcolm Arnold’s score, but it’s all delivered clearly and cleanly in this welcome lossless encode.



Special Features

2/5


The disc features the isolated score track delivered in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 sound. Some sound effects are also present on the track.


The enclosed 7-page booklet contains excellent stills from the movie, the original poster art, and film historian Julie Kirgo’s enlightening essay on the making of the film.



In Conclusion

3.5/5 (not an average)


As part of Twilight Time’s limited availability program, only 3,000 copies of The Roots of Heaven are available. Those interested in experiencing this environmentally-friendly melodrama with one of Errol Flynn’s last movie performances should hop to www.screenarchives.com to see if copies are still available. They're also available via Facebook at www.facebook.com/twilighttimemovies .




Matt Hough

Charlotte, NC



#2 of 48 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

Joe Caps

    Screenwriter

  • 1,933 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 10 2000

Posted January 16 2012 - 02:48 AM

Gee, it would be really good to know if the 2.0 audio track is STEREO or mono. the original film was stereo. Is the music only track stereo or mono also? any extras on the disc - trailer, etc?

#3 of 48 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

  • 11,266 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted January 16 2012 - 02:58 AM

The DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio tracks, both for the feature and for the isolated score, are mono.


The bonus features on the disc are what are listed in the review. If there had been a trailer, I would have mentioned it.



#4 of 48 OFFLINE   TheVid

TheVid

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 82 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 10 2011

Posted January 16 2012 - 05:14 AM

I've pre-ordered this title from Screen Archives as I do all the Twilight Time releases, but it will certainly be a big, fat disappointment if this release is not in discrete 4-track or matrixed (2-track) stereo, because I have an excellent Spanish dvd of this title with a sweet, directional (matrixed stereo surround) English-language soundtrack that will take precedence over a mono blu-ray.

#5 of 48 OFFLINE   Douglas R

Douglas R

    Screenwriter

  • 1,841 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 30 2000
  • Real Name:Doug
  • LocationLondon, United Kingdom

Posted January 16 2012 - 05:22 AM

The DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio tracks, both for the feature and for the isolated score, are mono. The bonus features on the disc are what are listed in the review. If there had been a trailer, I would have mentioned it.

I've pre-ordered this title from Screen Archives as I do all the Twilight Time releases, but it will certainly be a big, fat disappointment if this release is not in discrete 4-track or matrixed (2-track) stereo, because I have an excellent Spanish dvd of this title with a sweet, directional (matrixed stereo surround) English-language soundtrack that will take precedence over a mono blu-ray.

You just beat me to it! I was about to say the Spanish DVD is stereo. I can't understand why the Twilight Time release should be mono - big disappointment if so.

#6 of 48 ONLINE   haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,276 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted January 16 2012 - 09:32 AM

Sorry, with all due respect to Matt, this disc is most assuredly stereo - 2.0 stereo. I've had it for a couple of weeks now and it sounds great. So, have no fear, the sound is as it should be.

#7 of 48 OFFLINE   Matt Hough

Matt Hough

    Executive Producer

  • 11,266 posts
  • Join Date: Apr 24 2006
  • LocationCharlotte, NC

Posted January 16 2012 - 09:39 AM



Originally Posted by haineshisway 

Sorry, with all due respect to Matt, this disc is most assuredly stereo - 2.0 stereo. I've had it for a couple of weeks now and it sounds great. So, have no fear, the sound is as it should be.


Well, in my defense, my receiver played it in the left and right channels (no center channel) and said it was stereo (but it does the same with 2.0 mono soundtracks as well). When I got Prologic to decode the track, it placed the audio into the center channel only which is why I assumed it was mono.




#8 of 48 ONLINE   haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,276 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted January 16 2012 - 01:07 PM

No defense needed, I just wanted to make sure folks knew that it was indeed stereo. :) I had never seen the film before and I must say I was quite taken with it. Like Matt, I thought the transfer was really top-notch.

#9 of 48 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel

RobertSiegel

    Supporting Actor

  • 984 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 10 2004

Posted January 16 2012 - 03:21 PM

I just got an e-mail from the head of Twilight Time. The movie was mastered in true stereo.

Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!


#10 of 48 ONLINE   haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,276 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted January 16 2012 - 04:51 PM

I just got an e-mail from the head of Twilight Time. The movie was mastered in true stereo.

As I said :)

#11 of 48 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

Joe Caps

    Screenwriter

  • 1,933 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 10 2000

Posted January 17 2012 - 01:54 AM

I have asked this question several times on this forum and I have never gotten an anser from someone who works at a studio. We finally get a playback system that can give usw the original multirack stereo - and every studio keeps givin us two channel stereo mixdowns. WHY?

#12 of 48 OFFLINE   TheVid

TheVid

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 82 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 10 2011

Posted January 17 2012 - 04:24 AM

I've also wondered about the issue of discrete versus matrix in many CinemaScope dvds and, now, blu-rays. I've noticed that some titles from the same studio, Fox in particular, are discrete 4-track while others are not (BROKEN LANCE and THESE THOUSAND HILLS for an example). I'm assuming that the mixdown to 2-track stereo on HILLS was less a technical issue than a cost-saving measure, since it was released in the same time period as LANCE. To be honest, I've found that both Dolby Pro-Logic II and DTS-Neo:6 sometimes give a more spacious presentation than the original 4-track magoptical releases at home, but I'd essentially prefer to get the soundtrack as close to the original theatrical presentation as possible. What I really hate is when directional dialogue is falsely centered on some older stereophonic films; although this is becoming less and less the case, except when there's money and energy enough to attempt a touch up.

#13 of 48 OFFLINE   TheVid

TheVid

    Stunt Coordinator

  • 82 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 10 2011

Posted January 17 2012 - 04:44 AM

As for THE ROOTS OF HEAVEN, I'm relieved to hear my pre-order is on the way and in stereo. The film really benefits from a top-notch cast, and Huston does what he can to make a ploddish script screen worthy (I think Errol Flynn worked without a script - hahaha). It's a real pleasure to have it surface once again, and with an isolated score, because this is arguably Malcolm Arnold's best soundtrack music. I can't wait to see the location photography on blu-ray. I'm also really excited about getting the new PICNIC blu-ray: it's about time we get Bill and Kim cavorting to George Duning's unforgettable reworking of Moonglow in high definition and discrete stereo!

#14 of 48 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel

RobertSiegel

    Supporting Actor

  • 984 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 10 2004

Posted January 17 2012 - 06:06 AM

As for THE ROOTS OF HEAVEN, I'm relieved to hear my pre-order is on the way and in stereo. The film really benefits from a top-notch cast, and Huston does what he can to make a ploddish script screen worthy (I think Errol Flynn worked without a script - hahaha). It's a real pleasure to have it surface once again, and with an isolated score, because this is arguably Malcolm Arnold's best soundtrack music. I can't wait to see the location photography on blu-ray. I'm also really excited about getting the new PICNIC blu-ray: it's about time we get Bill and Kim cavorting to George Duning's unforgettable reworking of Moonglow in high definition and discrete stereo!

And for the first time we will finally hear the original STEREO Pal Joey mix! I give Twilight Time a big hats off. I would assume to say that Fox did not want to spend the money on remastering a 4.0 track for "Roots of Heaven" this time because they obviously already had a 2.0 stereo mix from before. While I think that films should always be released as they were in theaters, and I am sure Fox has the 4.0 track, why would they spend more than they will make on this title to remaster the sound? Theirs is a business perspective and they have budgets. Ours is a different perspective. I am with you guys, but in the end, everything has to do with money. And this wasn't exactly a blockbuster that Fox will turn a big profit on, if any.

Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!


#15 of 48 OFFLINE   john a hunter

john a hunter

    Supporting Actor

  • 632 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 11 2005

Posted January 17 2012 - 08:44 AM

I've also wondered about the issue of discrete versus matrix in many CinemaScope dvds and, now, blu-rays. I've noticed that some titles from the same studio, Fox in particular, are discrete 4-track while others are not (BROKEN LANCE and THESE THOUSAND HILLS for an example). I'm assuming that the mixdown to 2-track stereo on HILLS was less a technical issue than a cost-saving measure, since it was released in the same time period as LANCE. To be honest, I've found that both Dolby Pro-Logic II and DTS-Neo:6 sometimes give a more spacious presentation than the original 4-track magoptical releases at home, but I'd essentially prefer to get the soundtrack as close to the original theatrical presentation as possible. What I really hate is when directional dialogue is falsely centered on some older stereophonic films; although this is becoming less and less the case, except when there's money and energy enough to attempt a touch up.

And what happens to the 4th surround or effects track as it was then called .Even" The Robe" which was beautifully restored has hardly any rear sound although it is obvous from the film itself that there are several sequences where it would have been used quite forcefully and which I recall from hearing a four track print many years ago. Again with "The Egyptian" where critics at the time commented on its use. And, I could go on but you get the drift. Some answers form someone who produced these discs would be nice

#16 of 48 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

Joe Caps

    Screenwriter

  • 1,933 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 10 2000

Posted January 17 2012 - 10:53 AM

A few things - It would take less than a day to transfer the original 4.0 tracks for any film. It takes an eXTRA STEP to then mix down to 2.0 Robert Siegel mentions we are getting theoriginal stereo track for Pal Joey. that is a lie. the film was mono, there are NO stereo prerecords to make a 5.1 track. This will be fake stereo all the way.

#17 of 48 ONLINE   haineshisway

haineshisway

    Screenwriter

  • 2,276 posts
  • Join Date: Oct 26 2011
  • Real Name:Bruce
  • LocationLos Angeles

Posted January 17 2012 - 11:43 AM

I think it needs to be stressed again - Twilight Time is licensing titles. They have nothing to do with the transfers themselves or the sound therein. The only complaints, should there be any, should be in the direction of the studio doing the transfers. That said, I was very pleased with The Roots of Heaven - it looks and sounds fantastic. As to Pal Joey, we shall see. It's never good to rush to judgment because somehow these absolutes occasionally turn out to be incorrect. Best to wait, watch, and listen before using words like "lie."

#18 of 48 OFFLINE   Joe Caps

Joe Caps

    Screenwriter

  • 1,933 posts
  • Join Date: Dec 10 2000

Posted January 17 2012 - 12:38 PM

If a poster joyously claims here that Pal Joey is fnally being released with its original stereo, that is NOT TRUE, seeing as the film was never stereo.

#19 of 48 OFFLINE   RobertSiegel

RobertSiegel

    Supporting Actor

  • 984 posts
  • Join Date: Mar 10 2004

Posted January 17 2012 - 03:22 PM

OK Joe, we get the idea, no need to do 2 posts and call me a liar. Let's be civil and friendly on these boards, something you have not proven to be in many previous circumstances. My source at Sony tells me it is now true stereo! That's what I passed along. That does not make me a liar. That makes me an interested party who communicated to others what he heard directly from the studio. If they are wrong, and I find it hard to believe this source would be (though it's always possible), then it is not my fault. In any case, we're all movie lovers here, not out for a battle. Chill out.

Classics on Blu-ray is what it is all about!


#20 of 48 Guest__*

Guest__*
  • Join Date: --

Posted January 17 2012 - 03:50 PM

OK Joe, we get the idea, no need to do 2 posts and call me a liar. Let's be civil and friendly on these boards, something you have not proven to be in many previous circumstances. My source at Sony tells me it is now true stereo! That's what I passed along. That does not make me a liar. That makes me an interested party who communicated to others what he heard directly from the studio. If they are wrong, and I find it hard to believe this source would be (though it's always possible), then it is not my fault. In any case, we're all movie lovers here, not out for a battle. Chill out.

Yes, "liar" was way overboard. You may or may not be mistaken about the stereo track. The word liar is thrown around pretty cavalierly these days.