H D - S E L E C T

A view on HD DVDs by Yunda Eddie Feng

 

Introduction: Hello, Beaver readers! I became a serious cineophile in 1994 when I saw Schindler's List on my birthday. I realized that movies weren't just for fun--they could be serious art, too (even mainstream popcorn flicks if they're made with skill). Although I have a BA in English, I went to grad school for an MA in Film Studies. There, I met my mentor Dr. Warren Buckland, who shares my interest in Steven Spielberg's artistry (Spielberg and art aren't mutually exclusive). I helped edit Dr. Buckland's book Directed by Steven Spielberg: Poetics of the Contemporary Hollywood Blockbuster. I also contributed a chapter to Dr. Buckland's forthcoming anthology of essays about "complex storytelling" movies--movies that avoid classical linear storylines in favor of temporal disruptions, unreliable narrators, metatheatrical/"self-aware" references, etc.

Eddie's Home Theatre:
Sharp 30-inch LCD TV (1280x768 resolution)
Toshiba HD-A2 HD-DVD player
Oppo OPDV971H SD-DVD player
Pioneer 7.1 DD/DTS receiver
Harmon Kardon speakers (5.1)

(I'm using the HD-A2's optical audio connection to obtain DTS 5.1 downmixes.)

Yunda Eddie Feng

 

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Pride and Prejudice HD-DVD

(Joe Wright, 2005)

 

Universal (USA)

2.35:1 1080p

129 minutes

Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English, DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus, 5.1 French

Subtitles: Optional English SDH, French, none

Extras: audio commentary by director Joe Wright; Conversations With the Cast; Jane Austen, Ahead of Her Time; A Bennet Family Portrait; HBO First Look: Pride & Prejudice; The Politics of Dating; The Stately Homes of Pride & Prejudice

 

Released: November 13th, 2007

HD DVD case

16 Chapters

 

The Film:

The sumptuous new screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has so much to recommend it that it seems almost churlish to point out that its plucky, clever heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, played by Keira Knightley, is not exactly the creature described in the 1813 novel.

 

The second of five well-brought-up but impecunious Bennet sisters, whose fluttery mother (Brenda Blethyn) desperately schemes to marry them off to men of means, Elizabeth prevails in the novel through her wit and honesty, not through stunning physical beauty.  Among the five, the belle of the ball is Elizabeth’s older sister, Jane (Rosamund Pike), who is as demure and private as Elizabeth is outspoken and opinionated.

 

 

But because Ms. Knightley is, in a word, a knockout, the balance has shifted.  When this 20-year-old star is on the screen, which is much of the time, you can barely take your eyes off her.  Her radiance so suffuses the film that it’s foolish to imagine Elizabeth would be anyone’s second choice.

 

Once you’ve accepted this critical adjustment made by Joe Wright, a British television director in his feature film debut, Pride & Prejudice gathers you up on its white horse and gallops off into the sunset.  Along the way, it serves a continuing banquet of high-end comfort food perfectly cooked and seasoned to Anglophilic tastes.  In its final minutes, it makes you believe in true love, the union of soul mates, happily-ever-after and all the other stuff a romantic comedy promises but so seldom delivers.  For one misty-eyed moment, order reigns in the universe.

 

Excerpt from Stephen Holden's review at The New York Times HERE

Video:

This is a gorgeous 2.35:1 1080p video transfer.  We all joke about the dreary English weather, but the filmmakers captured rainy and foggy days in very romantic ways.  There are lovely sunny days, too, and with a pristine print yielding rich colors and skintones, it’s easy for one to fall in love with the views and the cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moderate 'good' grain is visible in close-ups

 

 

 

 

Audio:

As with several other dialogue-driven movies, Pride & Prejudice gets both Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and DD Plus 5.1 English tracks.  Again, to my ears, they sound about the same, but maybe you have better ears than I do.  They both carry the lush, sweeping music score very well, and it’s quite impressive to hear full thunderstorms enveloping my home theatre.

 

 

 

You can also watch the movie with a DD Plus 5.1 French dub.  Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.

 

Extras:

Director Joe Wright contributed an audio commentary.  As this was Wright’s leap to the big screen, he reminisces about the production with infectious enthusiasm.  Most of his comments are non-technical anecdotes, but for this kind of movie, breakdowns of the mechanics of filmmaking might be counterproductive.

 

The remaining featurettes have self-explanatory titles and offer fluffy information at best, though fans will lap up everything.

 

 

--Miscellaneous--

An insert advertises other Universal HD DVDs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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