A Few Words About A few words about...™ A Bridge Too Far -- in Blu-Ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jun 7, 2008.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist

    Feb 8, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    As MGM finally begins to add to their Blu-Ray releases as distributed by Fox, we get an idea of the ethic being used into translating their films from the selected 35mm element(s) to disc.

    A Bridge Too Far (1977), directed by Richard Attenborough and photographed by Geoffrey Unsworth is noble choice for BD, but also one that may be misunderstood for quality.

    Those familiar with Mr. Unsworth's final films (Superman, Tess, The Great Train Robbery, Caberet) will know where I'm coming from.

    Those unfamiliar with his role as camera operator on earlier films and cinematographer in following years need only take a quick look at this list to know that they're in for a visual treat.

    Working behind the camera in pre-cinematographer days:

    The Four Feathers
    The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
    A Matter of Life and Death

    and later as cinematographer:

    Blanche Fury
    The Blue Lagoon
    The Clouded Yellow
    Scott of the Antarctic
    A Night to Remember
    Half a Sixpence

    and 2001: A Space Odyssey

    You see where this is going.

    A Bridge Too Far is a terrific film, with a huge cast from around the globe, and the mix works nicely. Beautifully produced and designed, the film is a keeper. Standouts include the heroic score by John Addison, screenplay by William Goldman and editing by Antony Gibbs.

    What may be troubling to some is the atmospheric look of the film as captured by cinematographer Unsworth. Exteriors are laden with filtration of different types, adding a softening and haze to the image.

    And as I recall, this is not only quite correct, but serves to help obscure the use of the many matte shots and opticals, ie. aircraft in flight against bright skies, aircraft on the ground, etc.

    There appears to be occasional barrel distortion in the original photography, which may also have some wondering about focus. This is the way that it was shot by someone who knew precisely what they wanted to capture on film.

    Grain seems about correct, and overall the film looks like cinema, although it must be noted that in some scenes, blacks appear a bit high and have gone toward a slight milky blue.

    A quality addition to the Blu-Ray circus and a release that has not been DNR'd to death.

    Highly Recommended.

  2. Danny_N

    Danny_N Second Unit

    Jan 2, 2001
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    A Bridge Too Far is the only film I ever visited the set of while it was being filmed. A large part of the movie was shot in the town of Deventer which has a bridge that looks similar to the Arnhem bridge. My sister lived in Deventer at the time and I can still remember the fake houses, all the extras walking around in uniforms and the spectacular night attack on the bridge.

    I have the Japanese BD and it is indeed a terrrific transfer. It looks exactly as I remember it looking in the cinema. It's one of my favourite BDs.
  3. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

    Feb 9, 2004
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    St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada
    Real Name:
    Excellent news. My list of Blu-ray purchases to be made grows ever longer thanks to you. I've been promised a BD player for Christmas--perhaps I can have that moved to Father's Day. [​IMG]
  4. DaViD Boulet

    DaViD Boulet Lead Actor

    Feb 24, 1999
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    Definitely a BD to add to my library. Thanks RAH.
  5. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

    Jul 19, 2002
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  6. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie

    Jul 30, 2003
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    North of the 49th
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    Stephen J. Hill
    I picked this up on the weekend, and it is indeed a classic example of Mr. Unsworth's work as a "lighting cinematographer." Being of somewhat younger ilk than RAH, the first film that jumped to mind for me was Superman: The Movie, which bears similar stylistic hallmarks (soft focus, filtering, lighting choices). As MPEG-2 HD encodings go, this one is a goodie. As war movies go, it's a personal favourite that does not seem nearly as long as its running time would indicate.

    Note: I can't help but think that the choice of Mr. Unsworth as DOP had something to do with the plot element of fog.
  7. Brian Husar

    Brian Husar Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 23, 2006
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    I just picked this up, and I don't know what it is, this and The Graduate. I do not have a DTS surround system, mine is Dolby, but most of my Blu Rays that have DTS Master Audio play just fine, and they are 5.1. On this one and The Graduate I get no 5.1 info, only the 2 channel, when I select it. Does anyone know why the others work fine but not this one? I am technical but not that technical.

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