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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by John Sturges
USA 1963

In 1943, the Germans opened Stalag Luft III, a maximum-security prisoner-of-war camp designed to hold even the craftiest escape artists. In doing so, however, the Nazis unwittingly assembled the finest escape team in military history - brilliantly portrayed here by Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson and James Coburn - who worked on what became the largest prison breakout ever attempted. One of the most ingenious and suspenseful adventure films of all time, The Great Escape is a masterful collaboration between director John Sturges (The Magnificent Seven), screenwriters James Clavell (Shogun) and W.R. Burnett (Little Caesar), and composer Elmer Bernstein. Based on a true story, The Great Escape is epic entertainment that 'captivates, thrills and stirs' (Variety).

Posters

Theatrical Release: July 4th, 1963

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Comparison:

MGM (Original 2-disc) - Region 2 - PAL vs. MGM (Original) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion (Laserdisc) - Region 0 - NTSC vs. MGM (SE 2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Big thanks Henrik Sylow for the PAL captures and  Enrique B Chamorro for the rest!

1) MGM (Original) - Region 2 - PAL - LEFT

2) MGM (Original) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion (Laserdisc) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - RIGHT

 

Box Covers

 

 

Distribution

MGM

Region 2 - PAL

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion
Region 0 - NTSC
MGM
Region 1 - NTSC
MGM
Region FREE -
Blu-ray
Runtime 2:45:05 (4% PAL speedup) 2:52:00 2:51:00 2:51:54 2:52:13.323
Video

2.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.49 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

2.69:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.12 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

2.35:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: na mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

2.30:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.14 mb/s
NTSC 704x480 29.97 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,902,465,029 bytes

Feature: 38,254,565,376 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.19 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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

Bitrate:

MGM Region 2- PAL (Original)

and

MGM Region 1 (original)

  

Bitrate:

Criterion (Laserdisc)

 

NOT AVAILABLE

Bitrate:

 

MGM (SE)

 

Bitrate:

MGM Blu-ray

 

Audio English DD 5.1 English DD 2.0, French DD 2.0

English DD 2.0

English DD 5.1 & 2.0, French & Spanish 2.0

English (SDH), Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, German, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Thai, Japanese
Subtitles Croatian, Czech, Danish, English, English for hearing impaired, Finnish, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Slovenian, Swedish, Turkish and none. English, French, Spanish none English, French, Spanish DTS-HD Master Audio English 3990 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3990 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Italian 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio German 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
* DTS-HD Master Audio Japanese 1075 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1075 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Polish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Features Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.30:1

Edition Details:
• 8 page booklet
• The Untold Story (50 minutes)
• The Untold Story: additional interviews (9 minutes)
• Heroes underground (40 minutes)
• The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones (25 minutes)
• Theatrical trailer (2:36)

 

DVD Release Date: May 20th, 2002
Double Keepcase

Chapters 32

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 2.69:1

Edition Details:
• VOB File Date 02/26/98
• 8 Page booklet
• Return to The Great Escape doc. 24:06
• Theatrical Trailer 3:08 (very worn with voice over)

DVD Release Date: 03/31/98
Plastic Keepcase

Chapters 32
 

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen letterboxed - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Jacket notes by John Sturges & pencil map of Stalag Luft
• Film historian Bruce Eder hosts the comm. by dir. Sturges, Reylea, Bernstein, stuntman Ekins
• 1963 Theatrical Trailer
• Planning an escape photos with Sturges audio track
• Publicity photos
• Production photo gallery
• From script to screen text & photos
• Continuity photos
• The real Stalag Luft III photos

 

DVD Release Date: 1991
Gatefold Jacket

Chapters 36

 

CLICK HERE for a scan of the inside of the Criterion laserdisc jacket. It is a sketch of the camp used by Sturges during the filming

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.30:1

Edition Details:
• VOB File Date 02/10/04
• 8 Page booklet (same text, new layout)
• War film expert Steven J. Rubin hosts the comm. with audio by Director, Cast, & Crew
• Info. based subtitle text track
• Bonus material on disc 2;
• The Great Escape doc in 4 parts 46 min.
• The Untold Story doc. 50 min.
• The Untold Story additional interviews 9 min.
• The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones 25 min.
• Return to The Great Escape doc. 24 min.
•  1963 Theatrical Trailer (diff. from the prev.) 2:43
• Photo Gallery
• Trailers from The Good The Bad & The Ugly, Escape from NY, Windtalkers

 

DVD Release Date: 05/18/04
Plastic Slim Double Keepcase

Chapters 32

Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,902,465,029 bytes

Feature: 38,254,565,376 bytes

Video Bitrate: 18.19 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:
• Commentary by John Sturges, cast and crew

The Great Escape: Bringing Fact to Fiction (12:21)
 The Great Escape: Preparations For Freedom (19:51)

 The Great Escape: The Flight to Freedom (9:22)

 The Great Escape: A Standing Ovation (5:58)
 The Great Escape: The Untold Story (50:48)
 The Great Escape: The Untold Story - Additional Interviews (9:35)

 The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones (25:01)

 Return to The Great Escape (24:09)
• T
railer (2:42 in 1080P)
 

Blu-ray Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Standard Blu-ray case

Chapters 32

Comments

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray (May 2013): A little heavy on the teal - but otherwise certainly improves over the other digital editions. More information in the 2.35:1 frame on most - except the original 2.69:1 aspect ratio DVD from 1998. There remains a touch of grain and some heaviness - the film never looked ultra-crisp (it will never be impressive in that regard) but detail does move up a notch with some of the digging scenes showing previously hidden background information. I toggled back and forth between the SE - and it's quite evident that the 1080P - even with a low-ish bitrate due to the almost 3-hour length of the film - is a pleasing improvement. My only complaint was the way blue is rendered but overall this is better than I was anticipating from MGM.

 

Fans will love how Elmer Bernstein's score, along with the iconic Colonel Bogey March (or Bernstein variation of), sounds in DTS-HD Master lossless. The bump is a 5.1 at a whopping 3990 kbps. A beautiful high-end. Separations aren't crisp but there are a few that sneakily make it to the rear speakers. Sound effects used to mask the digging show depth and range. There are multiple foreign language DUBs and subtitle options signifying the Blu-ray as being Region FREE.

 

The Blu-ray includes most of the supplements found on the previous digital editions. We get the Steven J. Rubin hosted commentary with John Sturges, cast and crew - the six part featurette (The Great Escape: Bringing Fact to Fiction, Preparations For Freedom, The Flight to, A Standing Ovation, The Untold Story and The Untold Story - Additional Interviews.) We get the 25-minute Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones piece and the equal-length'ed Return to The Great Escape. Lastly there is a trailer in 1080P - everything else is in 480i.

 

This classic never seems to get old - with the great cast. Despite any weaknesses the MGM Blu-ray IS recommended to fans of the film.

 - Gary W. Tooze

***

ON THE DVDs: The history of the LD transfers may bare light on the differences between the DVD transfers. The Criterion edition of The Great Escape was transferred digitally from a 35mm inter-positive in its correct wide-screen aspect ratio of around 2.35:1, and released with the approval of director John Sturges who states that the (approx.) 2.30:1 framing is the proper one. The first MGM LD aspect ratio was too wide (about 2.59:1) because The Great Escape was initially filmed that way so that Sturges could make framing adjustments later, also the original print used for the MGM LD did not contain soundtrack information thereby displaying a wider image. The soundtrack was mastered digitally from a 35mm magnetic track afterward.  MGM may have used the same methodology for the original DVD transfer. Notice that the old DVD has more image on the left and right vs. the old LD has more info mostly on the left only.

 - Enrique B Chamorro

The Region 2 release is in the correct aspect ratio and superior to the original Region 1 release (and is anamorphic!) but is not as sharp as the New SE (which can tend to look saturated. I see some edge enhancement). The colors are also not a vibrant. The old Region 1 release shows some damage marks. Colors match closest to the Region 2 and the new SE, where the original Region 1 looked a little washed out. Contrast and shadow detail are best on the new SE as is the audio. Extras look to be almost exactly the same in the R2 and SE, but I think the Region 1 SE has thrown in some extra trailers and a photo gallery (looks to be the same booklet). Glad to see this film finally done correctly although it has too much digital manipulation (any is usually too much!)! It's a been a long wait in Region 1 - Region 2 has had the correct aspect ratio and a 2nd disc of extras for over 2 years!

 - Gary W. Tooze

 





Menus

 

(MGM (Original) - Region 2- PAL - LEFT vs. MGM (Original) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

 

 


(
Criterion (Laserdisc) - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. MGM (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - RIGHT)

 

 

MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 Subtitle Samples

 

1) MGM (Original) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) MGM (Original) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion (Laserdisc) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


Screen Captures

 

1) MGM (Original) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) MGM (Original) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion (Laserdisc) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) MGM (Original) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) MGM (Original) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion (Laserdisc) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

These look to be edge enhancement halos in the new SE

 

 


1) MGM (Original) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) MGM (Original) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion (Laserdisc) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


1) MGM (Original) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) MGM (Original) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion (Laserdisc) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 


1) MGM (Original) - Region 2 - PAL - TOP

2) MGM (Original) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Criterion (Laserdisc) - Region 0 - NTSC - THIRD

4) MGM (SE) - Region 1 - NTSC - FOURTH

5) MGM - Region FREE - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

More Blu-ray Captures

 


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Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Box Covers

 

Distribution

MGM

Region 2 - PAL

MGM

Region 1 - NTSC

Criterion
Region 0 - NTSC
MGM
Region 1 - NTSC
MGM
Region FREE -
Blu-ray




 


 

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Gary Tooze

Many Thanks...