DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Islands in the Stream

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Apr 4, 2005.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

    May 8, 2000
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    Islands in the Stream

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1977

    Rated: PG

    Length: 104 Minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

    Audio: English and French Dolby Digital Mono

    English Subtitles

    Closed Captioned

    Special Features: None

    S.R.P.: $14.99, USD

    Release Date: March 29, 2005

    After teaming up on Patton in 1970, it didn’t take to long for director Franklin J. Schaffner and George C. Scott to find another project to work on together. That project would be 1977’s film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s posthumous work, Islands in the Stream.

    The film has Hemingway’s stamp all over it, with his trademark themes of forlorn isolation and want, loves lost, etc. These human themes play out against a spectacular backdrop of nature’s beauty, as well as the ever-present foreboding of war. The story takes place in the Bahamas during World War II (although the film was reportedly shot in Hawaii, the beauty remains).

    George C. Scott delivers a fine performance as Tom Hudson, a character molded after Hemingway himself. Hudson is an artist and sculptor, serving a self-imposed exile in the Caribbean, losing touch with life, love and war. His solitude is interrupted by a visit from his three sons. It is the presence of his sons that begins to awaken Toms feelings for what he’s lost in life. It is also the presence of his sons that foretells the tragedy to come.

    When tragic news makes its way to Tom, he is stirred from his isolation and decides to abandon his mere existence on the island for a reawakened life on the mainland. Setting out in his boat for the U.S., fate intercedes. When Tom’s boat comes across another boat in distress - one that is transporting Jewish refugees to Cuba - he must choose whether to continue on his way, or risk everything and make his mark on the world.

    With gorgeous visuals and a stirring Jerry Goldsmith score backing up the action, this episodic story of a man’s existence is a fantastic piece, and an underrated film.

    The picture is anamorphically enhanced and is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The print looks very clean for a film of nearly thirty years, presenting only occasional specks or scratches.

    The image is, for the most part, sharp and well defined, although there are some sequences that seem softer than others. Grain ranges from mild to moderate, as in the original elements.

    Colors are beautifully rendered, accurate and richly saturated, showing off the beautiful scenery (this is one of the most beautiful films of the seventies, owing to its picturesque locations and the wonderful work of Fred J. Koenekamp).

    Black levels are generally strong, with good shadow detail. Contrast is good, if a touch inconsistent.

    I’m generally pleased with this DVD rendition of this beautiful film.

    The audio is presented in English or French Mono.
    The English mono track is adequate, if nothing to write home about. I don’t know if stereo tracks exist of Jerry Goldsmith’s beautiful score for this film, but I’d like to hear them if they do.

    Dialog is clear and intelligible, if limited by lack of low frequency response. The score is restrained by its monaural presentation, but seems to have a bit better frequency response than the dialog.

    Overall, an adequate but restrained mono track is presented.

    Special Features
    There are no special features.

    Final Thoughts
    A beautiful film, nicely rendered on DVD. No extras, but a good price.
  2. ArthurMy

    ArthurMy Supporting Actor

    Jul 27, 2004
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    So glad your thoughts concur with mine!

    The "softer" shots you mention are the product of camera filters.

    Sound was always mono. There are stereo tracks for the score, because there was an "unofficial" LP that was in stereo. I suppose on certain titles it's just not worth the expense of a remix, as the sales wouldn't justify the expense.

    I do hope people take a chance on this DVD (the price is certainly right) - I think they will be pleasantly surprised if they do. Wonderful characterizations by all the actors involved, and one of Scott's finest performances.
  3. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Cinematographer

    Dec 10, 2000
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    So many good things in this film and you get another great performance by the divine Claire Bloom.
  4. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist

    Feb 8, 1999
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    Real Name:
    Robert Harris
    A beautiful film, brought to DVD with care. You want to dive into that blue water.

  5. Jason Walstrom

    Jason Walstrom Supporting Actor

    May 6, 2003
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    This has always been one of my favorites and I always shed a few tears. Great Movie!
  6. james:w

    james:w Auditioning

    Jun 21, 2005
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    The Jerry Goldsmith original stereo music tracks do indeed exist; I have a CD-R with the score intact. Apparently this was Goldsmith's favorite score and after hearing this stellar performance I must concur !

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