directed by Martin Scorsese
USA / Japan / Germany 2004

 

There's no overestimating the contributions Martin Scorsese has made to American cinephilia. More than just a moviemaker, he has been a restless, tireless gadfly nagging the memory-loss culture around him to hold onto the past. Italian neo-realism, Michael Powell, film preservation, John Cassavetes, the blues, the reputations of studio auteurs like William Wellman and Sam Fuller—he devotes so much celluloid and interview time to his various causes it's a wonder he can find the time to make his own films. Now, Scorsese the director finally has an opportunity to cannonball into the old Hollywood he knows so well; hard as it is to believe, The Aviator is the first non-documentary feature in the man's canon to serenade the act of making cinema.

Or at least in part—however much a Hollywood gossip page ubiquity, Howard Hughes was hardly a vital Hollywood producer (ruled by erratic and exploitative instincts), and can barely qualify as a director. (His two credits, 1930's Hell's Angels and 1943's The Outlaw, are woeful and sensationalistic claptrap.) Hughes is more accurately remembered as a half-baked engineer, an irresponsible pilot, an underhanded billionaire capitalist, and most spectacularly, a world-class neurotic whose famous descent into unwashed, paranoid junkie madness in the years before his death assured his notoriety after many other late industrialists had faded from the country's consciousness.

The Aviator, working with a script by John Logan (Gladiator, The Last Samurai), skims the surface, of course. Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a paradigmatic brash young powermonger, spitting out orders, puzzling his minions with his mania for details, courting starlets. As is de rigueur for its genre, the movie's narrative feels like a long string of boxcars—incidents from the Hughes biography are dutifully re-enacted: meeting Katharine Hepburn, conceiving of the Spruce Goose, crashing the XF-11, "discovering" the 15-year-old Faith Domergue, defending himself against accusations of war profiteering. Meanwhile, the parlor-game-casting cameos demonstrate the futility of reincarnating yesteryear's icons by way of today's movie stars (holy Toledo, Kate Beckinsale is no Ava Gardner). Scorsese has an Oktoberfest with the period ambience, as he did in New York, New York, orchestrating busy crowds, swooping his camera through the Tinseltown chintz, and staging frantic overlapping patter across dinner tables like Howard Hawks eagerly returned from the grave.

Excerpt from Michael Atkinson's review at The Village Voice located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: December 14th, 2004

Reviews    More Reviews  DVD Reviews

DVD Comparison:

Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Gary Tooze and Henrik Sylow for the Screen Caps!

(Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

Same edition as:

Distribution

Warner

Region 1 - NTSC

Nordisk Film or Buena Vista
Region 2 - PAL
Runtime 2:49:55 2:43:06 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

2.31:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.30 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.16 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition)

 

Bitrate:

 

Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition)

 

Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital English, 2.0 Dolby Digital French (dub)

5.1 Dolby Digital English, DTS English

Subtitles English, French, Spanish, None Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Warner

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.31:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Martin Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker and Michael Mann.
• Disc 2
• Modern Marvels: Howard Hughes, A Documentary by the History Channel
• A Life Without Limits: The Making of The Aviator
• The Role of Howard Hughes in Avation History
• An evening with Leonardo DiCaprio and Alan Alda
• The Affliction of Howard Hughes: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
• OCD Panel Discussion With Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, and Howard Hughes' Widow Terry
• Deleted scene: Howard Tells Ava About His Car Accident
• Costuming The Aviator: The Work of Sandy Powell
• Constructing The Aviator: The Work of Dante Ferretti
• The Age of Glamour: The Hair And Makeup of The Aviator
• The Visual Effects of The Aviator
• Scoring The Aviator: The Work Of Howard Shore
• The Wainwright Family - Loudon, Rufus and Martha

DVD Release Date: May 24th, 2005
Double Slim Keep Case

Chapters 32
 

Release Information:
Studio: Nordisk Film

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Audio Commentary by Martin Scorsese, Thelma Schoonmaker and Michael Mann.
• Disc 2 (2:45:29 - Bitrate: 5.63)
• Modern Marvels: Howard Hughes, A Documentary by the History Channel (41:48 / 4x3)
• A Life Without Limits: The Making of The Aviator (11:04 / 4x3)
• The Role of Howard Hughes in Avation History (13:59 / 4x3)
• An evening with Leonardo DiCaprio and Alan Alda (28:06 / 4x3)
• The Affliction of Howard Hughes: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (13:31 / 4x3)
• OCD Panel Discussion With Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Scorsese, and Howard Hughes' Widow Terry
• Deleted scene: Howard Tells Ava About His Car Accident (1:54 / 4x3)
• Costuming The Aviator: The Work of Sandy Powell (3:25 / 4x3)
• Constructing The Aviator: The Work of Dante Ferretti (5:41 / 4x3)
• The Age of Glamour: The Hair And Makeup of The Aviator (7:47 / 4x3)
• The Visual Effects of The Aviator (11:31 / 4x3)
• Scoring The Aviator: The Work Of Howard Shore (6:56 / 4x3)
• The Wainwright Family - Loudon, Rufus and Martha (4:54 / 4x3)

 

DVD Release Date: August 1, 2005
Keep Case

Chapters 17

 

 

 

 

Comments The Image
This is nothing less than one amazing looking transfer, especially considering the length of the film (almost three hours) and the soundtracks, on the Region 2 even a DTS track. So where a certain amount of artifacts would have been expected, they are at a surprising minimum.

Both transfers display the same degree of Macro Blocking, but the degree of compression artifacts varies, mainly because the Region 1 image has been "smoothed". Hence, where the color banding in the Region 2 is visible in the normal pixel way, the Region 1 has "lines".

I agree with Gary, that the colors at times do appear a bit too saturated, but at the same time some sequences takes your breath away. Scorsese did play a lot with color schemes on this film, from early 2-strip to late deep 3-strip Technicolor, and every single frame notes upon that this is a color film. Robert Richardson Award winning cinematography fully comes to live here.

The most surprising difference is in regards to the Aspect Ratio. While both transfers are identical, the Region 1 has an AR of 2.31, opposite the Region 2 AR of 2.35. The difference is either because the Region 1 image has been stretched ~3% vertically or because the Region 2 image has been squeezed ~3% vertically. But as the OAR is 2.35, my guess is, that the Region 1 has been stretched. Why, I cannot say.

The AR aside, the Region 2 transfer has the better picture. It simply has a greater sharpness in details contra the Region 1 palette, which is too "smoothed".

The Sound
Where the Region 1 comes with additional 2.0 Dolby Digital French dub, the Danish DVD comes with a 768 kbps DTS track. This is to begin with a stunning sound mix, dialogue center based with good and at times aggressive use of the rears, especially during flight sequences.

But in the end, the DTS is slightly better; Not just because its +3DB louder, but there is more umph in the whoofer.

The Extras
The audio commentary is in fact with Scorsese, editor Thelma Schoonmaker and producer Michael Mann. Each comments are recorded separately, then edited together.

It is one incredible commentary. Scorsese loves film, hell - he is obsessed with film, and it really is a pleasure to listen to him talk with so much love and thought about this film, always noting upon what made him do the film the way he did, like when he talks about the historical Hepburn, the actress Hepburn and the Hepburn Scorsese knew thru the films. Schoonmaker and Mann adds comments on various topics.

Disc 2 is basically one of every type of extra. There is everything: a biography, production featurettes, a making of, Q&As, background on Hughes as person, on his illness and a deleted scene.

It is great material, but if I have to criticize it, I would say, that it more is collected like "one of every shelf" rather than "selected material to enhance the film".

Henrik Sylow

Though it may be further from Martin Scorsese's usually great new York School Of Filmmaking features he is most known for, this is a very underrated and underappreciated film. Both versions look great, but if you have the ability to get the PAL version, a machine that will play it back and DTS on your home theater system, the effort would be more than worth it. That leaves the issue of color, the old imbibition (aka IB) dye-transfer type to be exact. Sadly, the film could not be rendered in real IB prints, so Scorsese and ace cinematographer Robert Richardson used digital to get as close an approximation as possible. The two-strip looks good, but the digital just cannot totally duplicate the three-strip system, last used in 2001. Any oversaturation should be seen as compensating for the fact that they had to use digital and that older such prints, whether they used vegetable or metal dyes, were not necessarily as refined. For the record, the change in Technicolor types begins with the first shot of the globe in the Pan Am headquarters office before the pull out reveals Alec Baldwin in the beginning of his performance in the film.

Nicholas Sheffo from FulvueDrive-In.com

 

 



DVD Menus
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Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)
subtitle sample (English only)
Captures resized to 800px from 1016px

 

 


(Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner (2 Disc Widescreen Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC - TOP vs. Nordisk Film (Special 2 Disc Edition) - Region 2 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

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Region 1 - NTSC

Nordisk Film or Buena Vista
Region 2 - PAL

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