Senior HTF Member
- Jul 3, 1997
- Real Name
- Ronald Epstein
What can I say? I love 3D! From the moment I began watching 3D content in my home I quickly discovered that I needed more content. I suspect that those of you just purchasing your first 3D hardware will acquire the same ferocious appetite. That's why I became the HTF 3D ADDICT. I personally love images that pop off the screen and come inches away from your face without becoming overly gimmicky. However, I certainly appreciate the nature documentaries that offer beautiful depth and separation. These are not necessarily reviews of the film themselves. I am not going to concentrate on story or supplements -- you can find the 2D reviews elsewhere on this forum. My job is to let you know exactly what kind of 3D experience to expect from the titles that are being released. As I will be receiving a handful of new product from the studios expect to see more title coverage.
Studio: Kino Lorber
Product Release: November 21, 2017
Audio: 3-channel DTS-MA stereo
Running Time: 75 minutes
Overall 3D Presentation Rating: 5
3D Separation: 5
3D In Yo' Face Factor: 5
"Onward and Onward"
In preparation for this review, I have to admit I had to do some research on the Korean War. It's a period of time that's been pretty much forgotten by our generation. Sandwiched between WWII and the Vietnam wars, 2 million Americans served overseas in action against the North Koreans and Chinese. Aptly named the "Forgotten War," it never remained in the forefront of the minds of American citizens, even during the years it was fought. When the war ended in 1953, it did so without a victor, resulting in a stalemate between North and South Korea that has lasted through the present day. No doubt, every American is very much aware of the growing tensions that exist between the North Korean and U.S. governments. This is a war that is very much not over.
Cease Fire is perhaps the most unique 3-D project ever created for the screen. It was lensed on the actual battlefield of the Korean war during its final days and is comprised of a cast of actual combat soldiers selected from Army personnel. Director Owen Crump, with the cooperation of the Department of Defense, assembled a small group of technicians to film what he had hoped to be one of the most realistic experiences depicting what it was like to serve on the front line.
Before watching this film for the first time, I would highly recommend reading this overview of the film and how Crump approached this project.
Told in a somewhat documentary style, Cease Fire tells the story of an infantry platoon selected to make a patrol to a nearby hill called Red Top while peace negotiations continue at Panmunjon. As the platoon nears the hill, the audience clearly senses the mounting tensions and frustrations that the soldiers face.
Cease Fire is a captivating watch for the fact that its use of real combat soldiers and live ammunition fire gives the film a level of authenticity rarely seen. If the film seems crude and badly acted, it's only due to the fact that Crump wanted to give viewers a realistic, raw view of what front-line battle was really like. One of the most riveting moments of the film occurs when the platoon is faced with having to comb through a land mine, poking around aimlessly in the dirt with knives. Sadly, one of the film's actors, Private First-Class Ricardo Carrasco died shortly after filming his death scene.
Although the film provided a realistic depiction of soldiers in combat, Cease Fire failed to be a box-office success. This according to the 3-D Film Archive:
Despite an initial string of successful 3-D engagements in major cities, CEASE FIRE did not perform to its full potential at the box office. Historian John McElwee confirms that it received 452 bookings in 3-D (a total of $264,000 in domestic rentals) and 11,570 flat bookings ($571,000 in domestic rentals). Those figures reveal 46% of the total domestic rentals came from 3-D bookings which comprised a small fraction of the playdates. If more theatres had played CEASE FIRE in 3-D, it would have possibly done much better at the boxoffice.
The 3-D Film Archive was given the task of restoring this obscure film that has rarely been shown anywhere in 64 years and has been out of circulation for many decades. Speaking with restorationist Bob Furmanek, he gave me some insight into how this production was filmed:
"Considering the hazardous filming conditions, the 3-D cinematography is superb. There are occasional flat shots due to one camera malfunctioning but these guys were working in rough and dangerous terrain with the bulky Paravision rig mounted on a tank. The soldiers are shooting real ammunition and the explosions are certainly not safe and controlled studio pyrotechnics!"
Knowing this information in advance of viewing the film gives the audience real appreciation to the exceptional production value and its level of realism that is depicted on the screen. Everything one is watching is absolutely real.
The most exciting thing I can tell you about Cease Fire is that it ranks among the best 3D titles available in present day. After all, it was produced at a time where careful attention was given to choreographing scenes in a manner that would yield an effective stereoscopic reproduction of reality. Shots are taken from behind brush, rocks or trees in an effort to provide a vast sense of space between foreground and background objects. This is one of the more intensely rich 3D presentations, often proved by the increased level of screen distortion seen when removing your eyewear.
This would be a good time to quote this passage from the 3-D Film archive article:
"Hal Wallis championed the 3-D format and felt it was ideally suited for the subject. On March 14, 1953, Boxoffice reported: “Wallis declared he and his associate Joseph Hazen ‘do not regard 3-D as a passing fancy, nor do we believe that its interest relies on a so-called gimmick value.’”
(Hal Wallis also produced "Money From Home")
The 3-D Film Archive has done a tremendous job in restoring this title. Sans a few slight instances of film scratch, the transfer is absolutely flawless -- in fact, it's stunningly beautiful. The level of detail in the B&W imagery combined with the level of 3D separation is something to behold. At about the 08:50 mark in the film, there's a scene inside a tent where one of the soldiers is smoking a cigarette. Watch the smoke of the cigarette as it slowly rises and dissipates into the air. The exceptional level of picture quality and sense of depth gives the smoke layering one would not sense watching flat. Throughout the entire presentation, images remain crisp and detailed without a hint of ghosting/crosstalk.
All that being said, I saved the best for last....
Cease Fire boasts one of the best "In Yo' Face" moments of any 3D title from that period. The best part of it is that one needs not to wait long to experience it. Following the Paramount studio logo, a Howitzer cannon appears suddenly, extending its neck completely out of the screen, towards the viewer. In front of that, screen credits come inches before the face. It's one of those rare moments in 3D that one seldom sees anymore. It's on par with the infamous Codfish sequence from the Imax Blu-ray, Under The Sea. There are a few other moments where objects protrude from the screen in lesser degree including the side mirror of a jeep and the barrels of a few rifles. There's also a dash through a small river that produces minor outward water splashes as well as explosions that produce small amounts of projected debris.
The Blu-ray defaults to a newly restored DTS HD-MA 3.0 soundtrack which is simply phenomenal. The three front channels are constantly working together to provide an amazing sense of spatial separation and movement. Dialogue is constantly jumping from one channel to another according to the position of the speaking actor or the occurring sound effect. The mix is so good in fact, that it sometimes feels like a full surround experience. The level of audio clarity is exceptional, providing real punch to composer Dimitri Tiomkin's film score.
I asked Mr. Furmanek to provide more insight into the restoration of the audio track....
"CEASE FIRE was originally heard theatrically in three-channel stereophonic sound. The audio was played back on separate rolls of 35mm full-coat magnetic film which was interlocked with the left/right 3-D prints. (http://www.3dfilmarchive.com/the-first-year-of-stereophonic-sound)
Those magnetic elements are long gone so for this restoration, we asked the brilliant audio engineer Eckhard Büttner to recreate the lost stereo sound from existing mono optical track elements. Using his arsenal of digital spectral tools, his work is nothing short of miraculous and the full spread of the three-channel audio really helps bring the film back to life. Stereophonic sound was a big part of the battlefield realism that Owen Crump and Hal Wallis were looking to incorporate into this production. Of course, the original mono mix is also available on the Blu-ray as well."
The film contains an introduction by General Mark W. Clark, former Commander-In-Chief of The United Nations Forces in the Far East. As a supplement to this Blu-ray, there is an alternate 3D version that can be viewed along with an original trailer, presented flat and in stereoscope.
Cease Fire is an amazing watch on so many levels. First and most importantly, it provides a three-dimensional window to an important time in our history. Certainly a unique film for its time. Secondly, with its gorgeous, flawless 3D restoration, the 3-D Film Archive has provided one of the most exceptional 3D viewing experiences available on the format. This presentation is a perfect example of how Hollywood of today has failed to live up to the expectations of what 3D is all about. I am certain that I speak for many when I say that we are grateful to the 3-D Film Archive team for providing fans with these sensational releases.
Images are for illustrative purpose only not representative of the picture quality of this disc.
Sony HW55ES Front Projector calibrated by Gregg Loewen, Lion AV
Oppo BDP-93 3D Blu-ray Player
Denon AVR-X7200WA Dolby Atmos Receiver
Atlantic Technology H-PAS AT-1 fronts, 4400 center; 4200 rear side and back speakers, AW-5 overheads (x4)
SV Sound Subwoofer