J. Lee Thompson
Among the most spectacular and
problematic of large-scale Hollywood epics, Taras Bulba (1962) originated
as a dream project for actor Yul Brynner, who was at the height of his
popularity after the success of The King and I (1956) and The
Magnificent Seven (1960). The classic novel by one of Russia's leading
writers, Nikolai Gogol, fuses a story of star-crossed romance and familial
conflict with epic battle sequences, a perfect formula for big budget spectacle.
However, the film's rocky production history and curious casting choices
resulted in an idiosyncratic, frustrating, yet strangely impressive final
Theatrical Release: November 21st, 1962
DVD Review: MGM - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
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|Distribution||MGM Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 8.17 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English and Latin (Dolby Digital mono), English + Latin (Dolby Digital 2.0) DUBs: French (Dolby Digital mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital mono)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
The bare-bones MGM DVD shows a bit of weakness - it's anamorphic (2.35:1 from the 35mm print - the 70mm would be 2.0:1), progressive and dual-layered but the print used is extremely dirty and has digital noise showing in monochromatic sky scenes and backgrounds. It is certainly watchable although colors seem dulled with age. Detail is acceptable and I don't see any untoward manipulation. This DVD is coded for region one in the NTSC standard and sports optional English or French subtitles. The audio has (original?) mono and a 2.0 channel plus optional mono DUBs in Spanish or French. It sounded consistent and clear to my ear.
No extras at all - not even a trailer. The film? Not bad but I can't help but get the feeling there was some over-tinkering with the original narrative. Tony Curtis (replacing Burt Lancaster) is not as capable to carry the scenes - where the more sparsely used Brenner is a powerhouse. Pacing seems strong and the story is engaging. Fans of historical epics, especially this era, may get more out of it than I did.