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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Barry Levinson
USA 1984

 

This upbeat adaptation of Bernard Malamud's gritty allegory of the world of baseball is one of those test cases for the mood or generosity of the spectator: give yourself over completely to its wide-eyed brand of mythologising, and it will reward you with a tidal wave of emotion, hero-worship and strange medieval morality tale; a flicker of disbelief, however, and you'll see nothing but its faults. The Arthurian basis to Redford's rise to baseball stardom means that the narrative can include very un-Hollywoodlike devices such as an unexplained 16-year gap when he is out in the cold, expiating his fall from grace with a murderous femme fatale. Moreover, this mythological basis releases the cast from the necessity for naturalism (despite the title). There are also other things to enjoy: a great line up of supporting actors (especially Brimley and Farnsworth doing their grouchy old man double act), Caleb Deschanel's photography, Randy Newman's score. Let yourself go and be rewarded by the sight of a hero running home to victory through clouds of fire.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

 

Posters

 

Theatrical Release: May 11th, 1984

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Comparison: 

Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC vs. Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC vs. Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC LEFT

2) Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray RIGHT

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Sony Pictures

Region 1,3,4 - NTSC

Sony (Director's Cut)

Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

Sony Pictures

Region FREE - Blu-ray

Runtime 2:17:35 2:23:25 2:17:47.259

Video

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 5.42 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 6.37 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

Disc Size: 48,875,786,084 bytes

Feature Size: 39,098,554,368 bytes

Average Bitrate: 26.75 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

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

Bitrate : Sony

Bitrate: Sony (Director's Cut)

Bitrate: Sony Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 4.0), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), DUBs: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround) English (Dolby Digital 5.1),  DUBs: Japanese (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround) DTS-HD Master Audio English 3621 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3621 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 2136 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2136 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Portuguese 2116 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2116 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 640 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Georgian, Thai, Chinese , None English, Japanese, French, Portuguese, None English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Sony

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• Documentary with Cal Ripken Jr. (44:04)

• Theatrical Trailer (2:25)

DVD Release Date: April 3rd, 2001
Keep case

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio: Sony (Director's Cut)
 

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.85:1

Edition Details:
• "A Natural Gunned Down" The stalking of Eddie Waitkus featurette
• "Clubhouse Conversations" featurette
• "Extra Innings 1: Slow Motion" featurette
• "Extra Innings 2: Uniform Color" featurette
• "Extra Innings 3: The Sandberg Game" featurette
• "Extra Innings 4: The President’s Question" featurette
• The mythology of The Natural featurette
• "The Heart of The Natural" featurette
Three "Creating The Natural" featurettes
• Video Introduction by Barry Levinson
 

DVD Release Date: April 3rd, 2007
Double standard Keep Case

Chapters 28

Release Information:
Studio: Sony

 

Disc Size: 48,875,786,084 bytes

Feature Size: 39,098,554,368 bytes

Average Bitrate: 26.75 Mbps

Dual-layered Blu-ray MPEG-4 AVC Video 1080P

 

Edition Details:
• When Lightening Strikes - Creating The Natural (3 part documentary - 49:57) - Pre-games - a Novelist Steps Up to the Plate, The Line-Up - Assembling The Movie making Team + Let's Play Ball - Filming The Show

"A Natural Gunned Down" The stalking of Eddie Waitkus featurette
• "Clubhouse Conversations" featurette
• "Extra Innings 1: Slow Motion" featurette
• "Extra Innings 2: Uniform Color" featurette
• "Extra Innings 3: The Sandberg Game" featurette
• "Extra Innings 4: The President’s Question" featurette
• The mythology of The Natural featurette
• "The Heart of The Natural" featurette
Three "Creating The Natural" featurettes

• Previews

• MovieIQ

• BD-LIVE
 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 6th, 2010
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 16

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Sony - Region FREE Blu-ray - March 2010: Firstly, at present, this is incorrectly stated on Amazon as being the "Director's Cut" but it is, indeed, the 6-minute shorter (sans the extra 20-minutes) 'Theatrical' cut.

It keeps the same color scheme as the DC DVD - things tighten up better than I was anticipating - greens, reds and blues look brighter and cleaner on the dual-layered, 1080P transfer. Detail advances a healthy notch and grain rises to visibility. There is still some noise in monochromatic darker sequences but it was never distracting. Contrast is another major improvement and overall the visuals are reasonably impressive. It may be a tad softer than some might expect but I don't *think* this is the waxiness of DNR.

Audio supplies a crisp lossless DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a robust 3621 kbps. Bat-to-ball whacks echo nicely and many subtle effect sounds reach the rear speakers. Newman's score sounds better, and more inspiring, than ever before. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

Extras lose the Levinson intro (that was basically about the Director's Cut anyway) but retain the 3-part 50-minute documentary entitled When Lightening Strikes - Creating The Natural focusing on the titles "Pre-games - a Novelist Steps Up to the Plate", "The Line-Up - Assembling The Movie Making Team" and "Let's Play Ball - Filming The Show". It's good with input from everyone including Redford, Close and many others. The other "Extra Inning" supplements are all still there plus the presentation starts with the option of 'movieIQ' and BD-Live connecting you to real-time information on the cast, music, trivia and more.

I've always liked this film and it's a real pleasure seeing it look and sound this good. I had a very 'grand' viewing experience and I doubt we will be seeing it look much better anytime soon.

Gary Tooze

***

ON THE DVDs: Always an extremely enjoyable film - I'm one who sees past the obviousness and few tech-baseball errors and I allow myself to fall head first into the larger-than-life story. A lot of interest in sports is patiently waiting to see the amazing, the unforgettable, the god-like play that defies the laws of gravity and physics - those events that will be talked about by armchair quarterbacks for years to come. Well, The Natural has them...  in spades.

The new image has removed the brightness boosting that was present in the original release. It is darker and skin tones look much improved (for the most part). It may have had some minor black boosting but regardless overall the image is superior with less artifacts. The theatrical cut shows less information in the frame and there is a slim black border circumventing the image limiting the horizontals resolution - where the DC is tight to the edges. Audio too has bumped from 4.0 to 5.1 and it sounds just that much more dynamic. Subtitles are still yellow but brighter and better defined.

Extras are endless on the new edition but the old Cal Ripken documentary appears absent. I haven't got through all the supplements yet but they have all been excellent and highly informative so far. The film is fairly long - perhaps the reasoning behind no commentary - that could have shared much of the same information, but these new featurettes dig very deep. This new edition is obviously the one to own, but it is interesting to note that the Blu-Ray of the Director's Cut is actually cheaper than the standard.

The film itself, as described by director Levinson in the opening introduction, has about 20 extra minutes - mostly in the opening scenes which define our protagonist a bit darker than in the theatrical cut. Levinson tells us that this 'new' version is closer to the intended film he hoped to make but lack of time forced to create the eventual theatrical. It also loses some of the theatrical scenes making it only about 6 minutes longer overall. Hence, it is a different film to some degree and Levinson states that some may enjoy more - other not so. For me the jury is still out but I've seen the theatrical so many times I'm kind of stuck on that but it made watching the new version that much more enjoyable. 

Gary W. Tooze

 



DVD Menus

(Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC LEFT vs. Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

 
 

Menus - Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC DISC 2

 

Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 


 

3 examples of the additional scenes:

 

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

 

Screen Captures

 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP

2) Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM


Subtitle Sample: Not exact frame

 

 


 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP

2) Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP

2) Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP

2) Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP

2) Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP

2) Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP

2) Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

1) Sony - Region 1,3,4 - NTSC TOP

2) Sony (Director's Cut) - Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Sony - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


More Blu-ray captures

 


 

 

DVD Box Cover

Distribution

Sony Pictures

Region 1,3,4 - NTSC

Sony (Director's Cut)

Region 1,2,3,4 - NTSC

Sony Pictures

Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Blu-ray

Sound:

Blu-ray

Extras: Blu-ray

 


 



 

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Gary Tooze

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