H D - S E N S E I

A view on HD DVDs by Gary W. Tooze


Introduction: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 4600 DVDs and have reviewed over 3000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:
Samsung HPR4272 42" Plasma HDTV
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player (firmware upgraded)

Sony BDP-S300 1080p Blu-ray Disc Player (firmware upgraded)
Sony DVP NS5ODH SD-DVD player (region-free and HDMI)

Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

Gary W. Tooze








NOTE: We understand image quality (duplicate VC-1 encode) and content are exactly the same on both HD and Blu-ray editions. Only audio will be different.


Eyes Wide Shut [HD DVD and Blu-ray]


(Stanley Kubrick, 1999)

Warner Home Video
Review by Gary W. Tooze

1.78:1 1080p

50 Gig - dual-layered

Audio on the HD: Dolby TrueHD: English 5.1, Dolby Digital Plus English 5.1, DUBs: French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital Plus 5.1

Audio on the Blu-ray: English: PCM 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 5.1. DUBs: French: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, German: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, none


Featurette - The Last Movie - Stanley Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut
Featurette - Lost Kubrick: The Unfinished Films of Stanley Kubrick
DGA - D.W. Griffith Acceptance Speech, 1998
Interviews with Nicole Kidman (17:45 min), Tom Cruise (08:23 min) and Steven Spielberg (07:49 min)
US TV Trailer: Jealousy (00:34 min), Combo (00:34 min)

NOTE: Extras have optional Japanese subtitles

Released: October 23rd, 2007
HD-DVD/Blu-ray standard case
38 Chapters


The Film:



"Most reviews of every Kubrick picture since 2001 have been mired in misapprehensions and underestimations—many of which are corrected years later without apology, one reason he apparently gave up on critics about 30 years ago. This doesn't necessarily mean he was always ahead of his time: one of the best things about Eyes Wide Shut—evident in such artisanal qualities as the old-fashioned sound track, the grainy photography, and the exquisite color balances ...—is that it isn't a film of the 90s in most respects but something closer to what movies at their best used to be. ... This is personal filmmaking as well as dream poetry of the kind most movie commerce has ground underfoot, and if a better studio release comes along this year I'll be flabbergasted. A Masterpiece."


Excerpt from Jonathan Rosenbaum's review in the Chicago Reader





Presentation Comments:

Because of Eyes Wide Shut's 'style' of deeply grained interior shots this new hi-def DVD image looks quite different from a modern film transfer. Ridiculously different. Many will not appreciate the way this 1080P image appears. It looks as though it has intense digital noise - more than on any other hi-def release I've ever seen. I've watched the Blu-ray a few times now and I can appreciate the appearance. You can identify definite switch points between intentional grain and smoother, brighter, cleaner look. Most will say that it just doesn't look very good - that is not to say that it doesn't faithfully adhere to its directorial intent. I am not one who can state with any certainty what that theatrical representation might be. What purchasers should be aware of is that this transfer reflects the original grainy intent of Kubrick. It was meant to look as it does although some may deem this as being poor quality - in fact it is resembling the theatrical intent quite adeptly.


I've come to the conclusion it looks far closer to the way it was intended than the 2-disc SE (compared HERE) and hi-def brings out those qualities in a volatile extreme (aka Kubrick's use of naturalistic interior lighting), which may be very hard for many to come to grips with when they see it, but day lit and 'normal' scenes are extremely crisp and pristine.    

Gary Tooze


Optically Censored Original Region 1 DVD LEFT vs. Unexpurgated 2-disc SE + Hi-def editions RIGHT



Video: NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc and are linked to their 1920X1080 counterpart if you are interested to see.

Quite different than the 2-disc Special Edition... as discussed above. The grain overpowers many scenes and I can't distinguish where it leaves off and noise takes over. This is a very hard image to critique. It never appears as blocky as it does in the HD/BRD of A Clockwork Orange. Colors (both outdoor and near the final scenes) look brilliant and vibrant. Detail looks marginally superior to the 2-disc Special Edition and contrast fairly good with occasional deep and rich black levels. Kubrick's lighting and the intentional grain make technically imperfect visuals... but that is not to say they are not as close to perfect as originally intended.      


Screen Captures













The Blu-ray offers English: PCM 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit), English: Dolby Digital 5.1 and DUBs in French: Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 and German: Dolby Digital 5.1. I *think* the True HD sounded a bit more penetrating.

The HD supports the usual audio - a TrueHD English 5.1 track and a Dolby Digital Plus English 5.1 sounding duplicated to the 5.1 track on the SE  - plus DUBs in French Dolby Digital Plus 5.1, Japanese Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. The TrueHD sounded  excellent with that sole piano key repeating in my brain.

Dialogue audio is very consistent and supported by English, French, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Portuguese, subtitles, in a white font with black border.




The same as the SD Special Edition - on top of the past interviews with Nicole Kidman (17:45 min), Tom Cruise (08:23 min) and Steven Spielberg (07:49 min) found on all previous releases (and trailers etc.) we have two new featurettes - a 43 minute piece entitled The Last Movie - Stanley Kubrick and Eyes Wide Shut. It has input cut from many previous sources including the old interviews (1999) and other newish sources. It is worthwhile to view. I also enjoyed Lost Kubrick: The Unfinished Films of Stanley Kubrick where his work on the Napoleon film is discussed by those who were preparing for production. We also have Kubrick's Acceptance Speech for the DGA - D.W. Griffith award in 1998 (intro by Jack Nicholson).    




BOTTOM LINE: I may be in the minority, and I'm glad I gave this multiple viewings - because I appreciate this grainer image to a much higher degree - and you too may be impacted by the visual expression - now more than ever before. The film is a masterpiece and these hi-def editions give it the strongest artistic impact with the surreal grain used to diffuse reality. It's akin to thick plush carpet on screen - so masterful. I really love this film through 1080P although many of my fellow DVD reviewers were so-so on it. 



NOTE: Image quality (VC-1 encode) and content are exactly the same on both HD and Blu-ray editions.


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