H D - S E N S E I

A view on Hi-def 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 5600 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

 

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The Shining [Blu-ray]

(Stanley Kubrick, 1980)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio

Theatrical: Warner Brothers

Blu-ray: Warner Home Video

 

Transfer:
Video codec: VC-1
Video resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

REGION FREE

Audio:
English: PCM 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Subtitles
English SDH, English, French, Spanish, none

Supplements:
• Commentary by Garrett Brown and John Baxter
• Theatrical trailers
• View from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining (30:12)
• The Visions of Stanley Kubrick (17:15)
• The Making of The Shining with optional commentary by Vivian Kubrick (34:58)
• Wendy Carlos, composer (7:30)


Disc: 50GB Blu-ray Disc

DVD Release Date: October 23rd, 2007

 

Product Description: Jack Torrance becomes the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in up in the secluded mountains of Colorado. Jack, being a family man, takes his wife and son to the hotel to keep him company throughout the long, isolated nights. During their stay, strange things occur when Jack's son Danny sees gruesome images powered by a force called 'the shining' and Jack is heavily affected by this. Along with writer's block and the demons of the hotel haunting him, Jack has a complete mental breakdown and the situation takes a sinister turn for the worse.

 

 

The Film:

King's book "The Shining" deals with, in his own words, "just a little story about writer's block". With collaboration by novelist Diane Johnson, Kubrick struck heavily upon themes of both communication and miscommunication as well as isolation. As was his penchant he used rich symbolic motifs. They repeat throughout the film as psychic ability or "Shining" as well as the major characters stymied authorship and spiral into madness. In a very poignant moment Jack destroys their only means of outside communication; a 2-way radio.

The film starts to prepare the viewer for isolation with gliding aerial shots of a deserted winding highway (shots critic Pauline Kael described as "like a caterpillar seen by God"), leading to the Overlook Hotel, Colorado where Jack Torrance ( played by Jack Nicholson ) has taken his wife Wendy ( Shelley Duvall ) and child to become the winter caretaker in the cavernous, vacant resort for the next 5 months. The child is named Danny ( played by Danny Lloyd... and chosen for the part by Leon Vitali from over 5000 applicants! ) Danny displays his clairvoyance with a premonition of his Father's job offer and introduces us to his imaginary friend "Tony" who communicates through his wiggling finger. .

Excerpt from Gary Tooze's review located HERE

 

 

 

 

REGARDING THE EDIT - NOTE: (sent in email by Francois) "To sum it up, Shelley Duvall mentioned the deleted scene in an interview to French movie magazine "Positif" (which had a strong Kubrick coverage due to Kubrick expert Michel Ciment). It took place in a hospital where hotel manager Stuart Ullman visited Wendy and Danny, recovering, a few days after the events. Ullman told Wendy that Jack's body hadn't been found so far. He spoke with her about her plans for the future and showed concern for Danny and her. Then, he moved to Danny and threw a rubber ball at him. The rubber ball bounced exactly like the one Danny had found earlier in the lobby, suggesting that Ullman had been an accomplice with all the things evil from the very beginning. Cut to the final scene in the hall with the picture.

Duvall spoke of it as an "Hitchcockian ending", which was no surprise given Kubrick's love for Hitchcock. She had a clear recollection of the whole scene as it was a tracking shot requiring dozens of takes before getting one with the very same bounces.

Peter didn't mention in his recollection the bouncing ball. Maybe this part of the shot was already cut in the theatrical version, maybe it wasn't very effective to the audiences, which would explain why Kubrick removed it. In the event, he made way for one of the most powerful edits in all his work, going in a few shots from Jack's frozen body to the group photograph of 1921.
" (Thanks Francois!)

 

 

Image: NOTE: These captures were ripped directly from the Blu-ray disc. Warner's dual-layered transfer on 1080P looks absolutely marvelous. Crisp and clean, colors are consistent while noise is extremely minimal. After living with a host of SD incarnations of varying quality with varying digital weaknesses, this Blu-ray is a true breath of fresh air. It's the type of DVD image that just makes you shake your head in admiration. Warner offers the film in a widescreen ratio that is not without a little controversy. The film showed theatrically in the US at 1.85:1 and 1.66 in Europe. Many will prefer this 1.78 widescreen ratio and some will not - it is no doubt a different film with this alternation from past Full Frame DVD releases. Varying degrees of information in the frame is at times lost or gained dependant on the shot. For myself this high-definition transfer towers above all the SD editions - even the 2-disc SE compared to the others HERE.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920 X 1080 RESOLUTION          

 

 

Warner 4:3 Region 1 - NTSC edition from June 99' TOP vs. Warner Blu-ray BOTTOM 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music: My only disappointment with this release would be that Warner have excluded the mono, or 2.0 channel, option on their Blu-ray of The Shining. Only so much can be done with an artificial bump and both the 5.1 and PCM 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit) are ineffectual in conveying what their intent had hoped. Dialogue is clean and clear but the background separations are weak. There are two optional foreign language 5.1 DUBs and a choice of English, French or Spanish subtitles.

 

 

 

Extras: Supplements are fabulous in their relevance and not so heavy we must tiresomely wade through them. The commentary by Steadicam operator Garrett Brown and historian John Baxter is wonderful - superior to the 2001: A Space Odyssey commentary in that it has a lot of technical information both about the production, Kubrick's methodology and details of the narrative. I thoroughly enjoyed it - strongly recommended! There are 4 featurettes (3 of which are new) - the first; View from the Overlook: Crafting The Shining is half an hour and has input from many (see images below) including prominent directors, crew members and even Jack. The Visions of Stanley Kubrick is a little over 15 minutes long and is another keen piece exploring Kubrick's ideas behind the film(s) that he crafted. Next we have The Making of The Shining (as see on the old remastered editions) BUT it has an optional commentary by Vivian Kubrick (34:58) which is enlightening to some degree although her comments reflect it as an homage with her memories of her father. Finally we have Wendy Carlos, Composer at a little over 7 minutes and although she discusses the music for The Shining she tends to impart more in formation on the music in A Clockwork Orange (but that is fine). She talks about Stanley Kubrick with keen interpretational interest of the man and her fondness for him. Completing the extras on disc 1 is a theatrical trailer.

 

 

Bottom line:

This film gets better every time I see it and to own it in this stellar package is a no-brainer. Dim the lights on a late Friday night and settle in for one of the horror genre's true masterpieces as this Blu-ray gives you the best possible presentation you can get in your home theater. This is one of my demo DVDs to show off to friends as they revisit a pure classic. To me - it looks very film-like and I consider this one of the must-own Blu-rays (along with The Searchers, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Seventh Seal. In case you couldn't tell it has our highest recommendation.   

Gary Tooze
June 26th, 2008

 

 


 

 

 

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