The Great Escape...not so great

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Roger J, May 6, 2004.

  1. Roger J

    Roger J Stunt Coordinator

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    A local merchant received a couple copies of MGM's upcoming 2-disc special edition of the WWII classic, The Great Escape, today and I was fortunate enough to get my hands on one. Well, if "fortunate" is the right word. I'll get to a bit more detail, but there is really one thing that is immediately clear with this new disc. The Great Escape as a film is in dire need of restoration. Unfortunately, it is in the hands of a studio that is, perhaps, the least capable of doing so (relative to the other majors).

    As a long-time fan of this film, I have been through just about every video version that was worth anything. The terribly expensive Criterion laserdisc, the poorly framed and otherwise weaker version on LD from MGM, then the previous DVD that used the same master as the MGM laserdisc. For one reason or another, none of these transfers have been completely satisfying and fans of this film have had to tolerate mediocre presentation for far too long. Then MGM announces a new 2-disc special edition on DVD and there is true anticipation amongst fans who have been confined to the cooler for too long.

    From the moment the film began to unspool on my TV, my heart began to sink as I soon realized that fans of The Great Escape were to be jilted once again. To be sure, the framing is noticabley improved and looks as it should for an anamorphic Panavision show. The transfer is also enhanced for 16:9 so it should, in theory, look its best on the many HDTVs out there now. Instead, what you will find is a grainy, mushy, poorly color corrected attempt at separating film fans from their money. Colors often verge on oversaturation, something one rarely finds in DVD. Indeed, in some respects, this transfer looks more like the old analog video of laserdisc days than the clean, sharp digital video that we have come to expect from DVD. Detail is lacking and there is even the "strobing" and color shifting in light colored backgrounds, such as a pale blue sky, that I have not seen in a major label transfer in many years.

    I am sorry to say that this disc has every appearance of something MGM wanted to toss out to try to generate some sales while putting minimal effort into it. The wait for a proper version of The Great Escape continues.

    Bah, MGM.

    P.S. No comment on supplements. I am still fuming over the transfer.
     
  2. RobertSiegel

    RobertSiegel Screenwriter
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    My best friend, who was a projectionist for over 40 years, has also been waiting for this new release, and he sounds very much like you do, Roger. He has also had every version and disliked them all. He was hoping the film would be in its original stereo this time, but looks like another MISLEADING 5.1 from MGM, as usual! He says he actually helped spool in a local theatre a stereo print and watched it many nights very loud after the theatre closed.

    Oh well, I will tell him to save his money. He's more into the movie, not the xtras. Thanks for letting us know, if you're a true fan of the film, which seems an understatement, then he would probably agree with you.
     
  3. Maggi Magg

    Maggi Magg Stunt Coordinator

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    Well Roger J
    Looks like you get the same crap we got in R2 land.
    The supplements are fine but the tranfer is BAD [​IMG]

    Thanx for letting us know, i was considering buying this "new" edition.

    Cheers
    Maggi
     
  4. alan halvorson

    alan halvorson Cinematographer

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    Well, dang - the R2 is crud also - you answered my question before I asked it.
     
  5. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    DAMN!
    I absolutely love this movie and had high hopes for the newer version. Maybe if Sony DOES buy MGM they will do such movies justice in the future.
     
  6. Drew Reiber

    Drew Reiber Supporting Actor

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    *SNORT*

    *SNICKER*

    Not bloody likely....
     
  7. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    I agree 100%. The "5.1" audio also seems like repurposed mono. Just saw this last night, and a full review will be forthcoming.
     
  8. Tony_Faville

    Tony_Faville Supporting Actor

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    That is really disheartening to hear. I was so looking forward to buying this one. Thanks for nothing MGM.
     
  9. DonRoeber

    DonRoeber Screenwriter

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    Wow, I'm dissapointed as well. I was going to buy this for myself, and for my father (Fathers Day is coming up). Guess I'll have to find something else to get him.
     
  10. Jayson Wall

    Jayson Wall Extra

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    "The Great Escape" was only released in optical track mono in 1963.


    JW
     
  11. James_L

    James_L Agent

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    if this is the case i will be cancelling my preorder [​IMG]
     
  12. Chris*W

    Chris*W Stunt Coordinator

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    This is really awful news. I was thinking about getting this because I've never seen the film. Looks like a rental for me...
     
  13. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    Is it worse than the original release? This is very disappointing.
     
  14. Jordan_E

    Jordan_E Cinematographer

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    Well, a guy can dream, can't he? Most people think this move is just to pad out their blu-ray HD DVD catalog anyway, so at the least we may get an HD version of this movie in the future, if the FAR future.
     
  15. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    First of all thanks to Roger for the heads up. It sounds dissapointing to say the least.

    But with all due respect I'll be reserving judgment until I check it out myself as I've already sold off the previous edition.
     
  16. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    Perhaps WB could help here.
     
  17. Elvie

    Elvie Stunt Coordinator

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    I thank you also about this release version ... was given a copy of the previous dvd as a gift so I can't complain about spending my own money. Figured I'd hold onto it until this came out and replace if it was worthy ... again, thanks Roger for letting us all know [​IMG]
     
  18. CraigF

    CraigF Cinematographer

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    Me too...very disappointed, but thanks for the mini-reviews and the warning. Though I hate to pick on any studio, they all have some relative dogs, in this case I must say I should have expected this to a somewhat large degree from my previous MGM re-releases. They typically have only marginal improvements for the feature it seems, probably not enough to have re-bought in retrospect, and the originals sell for dirt cheap when the new version is announced.
     
  19. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Lead Actor

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    i own the R4, haven't seen the R1, but i would just tell people flipping out now- to just hold on a minute.

    yes, i wasn't very impressed with the new transfer of this either (which should be exactly the same as on the R4 disc).
    it's clear the film needs a restoration as much of it looks like a 3rd generation print-
    BUT
    it is a hell of a lot more watchable on a big screen (or fp) than the last one was- a disc that was riddled with compression related artifacts and exacerbated by the low resolved detail found in its non anamorphic picture.

    it is disappointing, but it also still worth the upgrade.
     
  20. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

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