Search DVDBeaver

S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


L  e  n  s  V  i  e  w  s

A view from the Blu (-ray) on DVDBeaver by Leonard Norwitz

The Fox Blu-ray War Bash 2008

"The perfect gift for Dad this Father's Day" - so says Fox for their long-awaited series of five – count them – big budget war films from their vast catalog: Battle of Britain (1969), A Bridge Too Far (1977), The Longest Day (1962), Patton (1970), and The Sand Pebbles (1966). Except for The Sand Pebbles, these are all WWII films. Three of them show off a huge cast of luminaries, but only one (A Bridge Too Far) does it without undue posturing. All of them have outstanding photography: even the least successful as a script (Battle of Britain) has some terrific aerial photography.

Between the five, they scored nine Academy Awards, which is less impressive when you consider that seven of them were for one picture alone (
A Bridge Too Far, which had zero nominations, has become, for me, one of the more rewatchable WWII movies, and has one of the most engaging film scores composed for the genre. Jerry Goldsmith's score for Patton was rightfully nominated, but lost to – are you sitting down for this – Love Story!

The Longest Day is remarkable for two reasons: it is one of the first films shot in Black & White to be released on Blu-ray! (Bergman's The Seventh Seal jumps to mind as another - there may be a few more) and it is also one of the older films on the new format... and best looking image – all the more surprising considering how bloody awful the SD 2-disc Collector's Edition was. (The previous letterboxed image was sharper, even after zoomed out to full size.) The sound tracks for all of these movies are very good-to-excellent. They may not have the same level of crunch we have come to expect since Saving Private Ryan, but they are convincing all the same, regardless of age. The music tracks for these films are especially clear, invigorating and supportive of the mood.

All of the titles have seen SD-DVD incarnations previously, some very good ones, some with extensive supplements. My comparison of the supplements from the latest SD editions and the respective Blu-ray reveals that all of the extra features – with the exception of
A Bridge Too Far - are ported over to High Def. Except for the occasional trailer, there are NO high-def extra features to be found on any of these new releases. Two of them (A Bridge Too Far and Battle of Britain) have no extra features at all, unless you count trailers (which I don't.) Battle of Britain SD edition, by the way, is the sole movie of this quintet not too have received the 2-disc treatment in 480i. The BRDs of Patton and The Longest Day are 2-disc affairs, but Fox opted for a single 50 GB disc to accommodate all but "Road Show" version of the 2-disc material from their most recent SD of The Sand Pebbles.

Patton [Blu-ray]


(Franklin J. Shaffner, 1970)







Review by Leonard Norwitz



Theatrical: 20th Century Fox Pictures Home Entertainment

Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Pictures Home Entertainment



Region: 'A'-locked (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:51:57.307

Disc Size: 39,487,428,332 bytes

Feature Size: 38,292,473,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.95 Mbps

Chapters: 37

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: June 3rd, 2008



Aspect ratio: 2.20:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3826 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3826 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps



English (SDH), Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, Spanish, none



• Disc 1: Introduction by Screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola

• Disc 1: Audio Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola

• Disc 2: Behind-the-Scenes Still Gallery with Audio Essay on the Historical Patton

• Production Still Gallery Accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith's Complete Musical Score

• Original Theatrical Trailer

• Documentaries:

• History Through the Lens: Patton – A Rebel Revisited

• Patton's Ghost Corps

• The Making of Patton



The Film: 9
An under thirty Francis Ford Coppola meant to satisfy both hawks and doves in his Oscar winning screenplay. I didn't know that until I heard him say so in the Introduction to the movie, but I shall thought he did a fine job of just that when I first saw the film in 1970. When I learned sometime later that it was Nixon's favorite movie, I thought: Q.E.D.!

There is so much already written about this film – Roger Ebert's fine review HERE: among
others. Also, Gary has already covered the basics in his review of the SD and the extra features HERE so I shall content myself generally with comments about the image and sound.



Image: 8.5 (6~8.5/9)

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

The first number indicates a relative level of excellence compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale. The second number places this image along the full range of DVD and Blu-ray discs.

Comparison to Fox's recent SD Cinema Classics Collection edition is what this is all about, so let's take a closer look. We can see some edge enhancement on the SD – not much, but some. I found none on the Blu-ray. Proper edge definition is essential if we are to tolerate, no less enjoy, a film on large screen projection for three hours. There is an orange cast to the SD, which is also more saturated. The BRD is a more open picture: less saturated – and since it has very little color cast, it is more available to more color variation scene-to-scene, and within the frame. Differences in cropping are insignificant.

Fox's Cinema Classics DVD is remarkable for the degree of noise reduction applied – so much so that it obliterates what texture the previous DVD offered. We can see why the decision was made to use DNR – the grain was bordering on noise. The earlier DVD also appears oversharpened to my eye. The Blu-ray, on the other hand, steers a middle course in which DNR is applied more selectively. A wisp of texture is still obtained in jackets (check out Malden's jacket in his close-up), but I find that there is too much smoothing all around, and Scott's face can get seriously waxy in several of the shots. Even so, there are benefits in resolution and dimensionality that we come to expect from high definition.




1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) 20th Century Fox (2-disc Cinema Classics Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM


Subtitle Sample: Not exact frame




1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) 20th Century Fox (2-disc Cinema Classics Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM



1) 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC TOP

2) 20th Century Fox (2-disc Cinema Classics Collection) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) 20th Century Fox - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM


NOTE: These images are in the PNG format - (Portable Network Graphics) is a bitmap image format that employs lossless data compression. It is very large (file size) for us to use consistently.



These captures show a greater prevalence of the liberal DNR (Digital Noise Reduction)






Audio & Music: 7/9
I finally have what should be a pretty decent, though not entirely finalized, surround system in place. It has not yet been professionally calibrated. That may be a few weeks off, so regard my comments with this in mind – and if there is the need for qualification, I shall post in the Update section. In any case, I feel I am much closer to the intentions of the audio mix than ever before.

My new surround system captures the subtlety of Jerry Goldsmith's unusually eerie score and the growlings of George C. Scott's alter-George but, compared to what's possible today, artillery, machine gun fire and bomb blasts are not nearly as convincing as what is possible today. Still, an improvement over the SD.


Operations: 6
Since we have Sir Francis holding forth in informative tones on the commentary, I don't see any need for us to have to deal with him in the unavoidable, but skippable, Introduction. Whether you approach the feature film by hitting Play on the Main Menu or from Scenes, you gonna have to deal with Francis – and in a pitiful 480i image, to boot.

Extras: 7
One comment on the Production Still Gallery Accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith's Complete Musical Score: I was expecting either a longer score (It's only a little over half an hour) or a faster paced slide show. I got neither. Better heard and not seen, at least not at the same time. Since I seem to be on a tear about Mr. Coppola's Introduction, I might as well add that anything that is an embedded unavoidable feature of the movie shouldn't be listed as an Extra Feature.


Bottom line: 8
Any fan of this movie will want to have the best looking image. Frankly, I didn't expect all that much, especially after the level of artificial smoothing observed in the Cinema Classics edition. But Blu-ray scores decently in this despite the injudicious use of DNR, especially in that we aren't likely to see a new video release of this movie anytime soon.

Leonard Norwitz
May 25, 2008








About the Reviewer: I first noticed that some movies were actually "films" back around 1960 when I saw Seven Samurai (in the then popular truncated version), La Strada and The Third Man for the first time. American classics were a later and happy discovery.

My earliest teacher in Aesthetics was Alexander Sesonske, who encouraged the comparison of unlike objects. He opened my mind to the study of art in a broader sense, rather than of technique or the gratification of instantaneous events. My take on video, or audio for that matter – about which I feel more competent – is not particularly technical. Rather it is aesthetic, perceptual, psychological and strongly influenced by temporal considerations in much the same way as music. I hope you will find my musings entertaining and informative, fun, interactive and very much a work in progress.

The LensView Home Theatre:




Hit Counter