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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


(aka 'The Dambusters')

 

Directed by Michael Anderson
UK 1954

At one time seemingly up as a candidate for culting by those who found the surrounding footage of Pink Floyd: The Wall to taste (this was the movie playing incessantly on Pink's TV). Anderson and RC Sherriff's tribute to Barnes Wallis (inventor of World War II's bouncing bomb) and Wingco Guy Gibson (who spearheaded their use in destroying strategically-important Ruhr dams) slips some thoughtful reservations and some gross sentimentality into its bouncing bombast. With its final cost-counting, it contorts the stiff upper lip into something like a deathly grimace.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film guide located HERE

Poster

Theatrical Release: October, 1954

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Comparison:

Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

(Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray RIGHT)

DVD Box Cover

   

Remastered and coming out June 15th, 2010:

Also available in Anchor Bay's British War Collection with The Cruel Sea / The Ship That Died of Shame / Went the Day Well? / The Dam Busters and The Colditz Story

         

Distribution Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC Optimum - Region 'B'-locked - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:05:08  2:05:27.520
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,122,777,896 bytes

Feature: 22,999,733,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate:

Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)  LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Subtitles None None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Anchor Bay

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• one page liner notes with essay by Gary Hertz

DVD Release Date: October 17th, 2006

Keep Case
Chapters: 20

Release Information:
Studio: Optimum

1080P Single-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 23,122,777,896 bytes

Feature: 22,999,733,952 bytes

Video Bitrate: 20.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• none

Blu-ray Release Date: September 21st, 2009
Standard
Blu-rayCase
Chapters:
12

 

Comments:
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray November 09:

Image: 8/9
The recent DVD from Anchor Bay was sharp enough but lacked a proper filmlike grayscale. That image, having very little in the way of midgray tones, appeared overly bright. All has been put right in Optimum's new Blu-ray, which hardly seems struck form the same source – and, indeed, may not have been. Sharpness, resolution, and that most important aspect of black & white film, contrast control, are now nothing short of jaw dropping. Dimensionality is palpable, aided by a near absence of edge enhancement, which was somewhat evident on the DVD. There are many scenes against a bright, threatening sky where both foreground characters and sky that now appear in correct proportion and tonal balance. Interior shots have a reach out and touch it quality rare these days; clothing textures are equally realistic. There's a hardly a moment where focus is a problem, depth of field is astonishing – but, then, this is a feature film, not a WWII documentary, so why should we not expect technical perfection!

There is one odd defect – I'm not sure if I would call it a scratch exactly, it's a little too wicked - running the entire height of the frame for three seconds, about a minute into chapter 5 (ref. 41:20). I checked Anchor Bay's DVD and it's not there. Weird. It mars an otherwise lovely transfer (see last large screen capture below)

Audio: 6/8
LCPM Stereo - The case and disc info indicates "stereo" (as does the DVD). I wouldn't have thought England would be recording in stereo for a movie so early in the game. (In any case the IMDB reports "Mono".) There isn't much call for stereo in this film unless done properly. A 5.1 mix certainly wouldn't have matched the scale of the thing, but this is 2.0, so there's hope, I thought. As it happens what stereo effect exists is limited to the music swells (and not much of that), the airplane engine noises and some of the explosions. But these are spatial effects that derive from how your audio system interprets what is essentially a dual mono mix. There's no attempt at left/right dispersion when the planes are being attacked on their approach to the dam, which might have been too much of a god thing anyhow. The movie employs considerable dialogue, which is centered as it would be in mono.

And now for the good news: The audio is LCPM (2.3 Mbps - 48kHz/24-bit), which offers a much appreciated crispness, clarity, nuance and weight to the proceedings. Take for example the first outdoor model test very early on. It takes place at an airstrip, out of the way. On the Blu-ray we can clearly make out background sounds of other airplanes taxiing about as well as other machinery and people out of the frame; also, the sound of walking on wood planks is correctly manifest, where on the DVD we assume the wood only because we can see the people walking on them. Of greatest importance is that the uncompressed audio track permits an emotional inflection of voices utterly absent on the DVD. How else are we able to make sense out of and empathize with Michael Redgrave's hesitant enthusiasm as he tries to sell his idea for the destruction of the dams, or Richard Todd's boyish matter of fact delivery of the mission to his men? On the DVD if you close your eyes and just listen to the dialogue, there is very little in their speaking that supports the drama. Next to these improvements, the extra slam we hear from explosives on the Blu-ray is just icing on the cake.

Operations: 5
Optimum's
Blu-ray edition is Region B locked. Menu has an almost imperceptible scene selection option from the main menu page that reverts to a window with 12 non-expanding chapter thumbnails.

Extras: 0
As on the DVD there are no extra features. A pity.

Recommendation: 8
Despite the image defect, which is, thankfully, brief, and the lack of extra features, I strongly endorse this
Blu-ray for its content, image and audio, all of which make a good case for Region-free players. It's nice that it's cheap, too!

Leonard Norwitz
LensViews
November 20, 2009

***

ON THE DVD: This was originally available in Anchor Bay's British War Collection (with The Cruel Sea / The Ship That Died of Shame / Went the Day Well? / The Dam Busters and The Colditz Story) but now becomes available as an individual with a minor savings for purchasing in the boxset - I'd also recommend The Cruel Sea and The Colditz Story.

Acceptable image on this progressive DVD transfer from Anchor Bay. Strong grey tones and decent blacks make up for the occasional artifacts. There is some probable contrast boosting. Audio was unremarkable but stable enough - shame that there are no optional subtitles offered. Bare bones with no extras (save the one page liner notes) the come-on here is the film - very enjoyable - not as one-sided as it might appear, but the propaganda level is still high mixed with some stirring melodrama. Recommended!

Gary W. Tooze

 


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Screen Captures

 

(Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)

 

 


(Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Optimum - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM)
 

 

 


 

More Blu-ray Captures

 

 


DVD Box Cover

   

Remastered and coming out June 15th, 2010:

Also available in Anchor Bay's British War Collection with The Cruel Sea / The Ship That Died of Shame / Went the Day Well? / The Dam Busters and The Colditz Story

         

Distribution Anchor Bay - Region 1 - NTSC Optimum - Region 'B'-locked - Blu-ray




 

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