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A view on Hi-def discs by Gary W. Tooze

The Day the Earth Stood Still [Blu-ray]

 

(Robert Wise, 1951)

 

 

  

  

Blu-ray Steelbook coming out May 2014 in the UK:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Video: 20th Century Fox

 

Discs:

Region: 'A'

Feature Runtime: 1:32:11.192

Chapters: 34

Disc Size: 43,927,409,925 bytes

One dual-layered Blu-ray

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: December 2nd, 2008

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC

 

Audio:
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3765 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3765 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

Subtitles:
Feature: English (SDH), Chinese (traditional + simplified), French, Spanish, and none
 

Supplements:

• Commentary by Director Robert Wise and Nicolas Meyer
• Commentary by Film & Music Historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg & Nick Redman
• Isolated Score Track 5.1
• The Making of " The Day The Earth Stood Still" (23:51)
• The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin (5:39)
• The Day the Earth Stood Still Main Title Live Performance by Peter Pringle (2:15)
• Farewell to the Master: a reading by Jameson K. Price
• Fox Movietonews from 1951 (6:21)
• 3 Trailers (teaser, theatrical, 2008 re-release
• Decoding "Klaatu, Barada, Nikto"; Science Fiction as Metaphor (16:13)
• A Brief History of Flying Saucers (33:59)
• Edmund North: The Man Who Made The Earth Stand Still (15:42)
• The Astounding Harry Bates
Farewell to the Master: An Audio Presentation of the Original Short Story (11:01)
• Race to Oblivion : A Documentary Short Written and produced by Edmund North (26:41)
• 7 Galleries

Blu-ray exclusives - Interactive Theremin - Create Your Own Score, Gort Command! Interactive Game

 

Product Description: The Day The Earth Stood Still depicts the arrival of an alien dignitary, Klaatu (Michael Rennie), who has come to earth with his deadly robot, Gort (Lock Martin), to deliver the message that earthlings must stop warring among themselves--or else. After being shot at by military guards, Klaatu is brought to a Washington, D.C. hospital, where he begs a sympathetic but frank Major White (Robert Osterloh) to gather all the world's leaders so he can tell them more specifically what he has come to warn them about. Losing patience, Klaatu slips into the human world, adapting a false identity and living at a boarding house where he meets a smart woman with a conscience and her inquisitive son. Both mother and son soon find themselves embroiled in the complex mystery of Klaatu, his message and the government's witch hunt for the alien....

 

 

 

The Film:

Robert Wise (The original Haunting, West Side Story, The Sound of Music and Star Trek: The Motion Picture are among his credits) knew how to make a film. Devoid of the multitude of CGI and special effects that seem necessary for today's fans, The Day the Earth Stood Still is quite a landmark in sci-fi films, especially for the 1950's. It bases its interest in suspense and the personality of the 'invading alien' as Michael Rennie's timeless character of Klaatu.

 

 

 

Poignant dialogue is reflected in a positive absolute of our civilization and growth as a species as well as purporting our realization of not being alone in vastness of space. A marvelous and intelligent film that deserves its large fan base and place in cinema history....

Gary Tooze

 

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

Firstly, I would have compared this to the DVD editions in this review but I had some real difficulty in matching captures (my set-up - not the Blu-rays fault). This is one of the oldest films to reach 1080P Blu-ray and it doesn't match the yet even older, and extensively restored, Casablanca, but I think this still looks strong enough while towering over the latest SD edition. It has both grain and noise - a little less of the former and a smattering too much of the latter, but I can easily live with it. Contrast and greyscale may not be totally pristine but they blow away anything we've seen previously from this film. Detail has some excellent moments (look at Rennie below!).  While this isn't the most highly-lauded Blu-ray disc we've covered - if you take into account the age of the film, its classic status and any weaknesses, as compared to more modern transfers, are easily forgotten. There is still minor damage mostly in the form of speckles and the feature helps fill a dual-layered Blu-ray (which takes up a whopping 43 Gig!) and this definitely replicates the theatrical better than anything else currently available on digital. It has a consistent quality and the 1080P can occasionally bring up a crispness that is sure to impress. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised by the visual quality as my expectations were fairly low. The Blu-ray image transfer shouldn't deter anyone from indulging and you may view the full-resolution screen captures by clicking the images below.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio & Music:  
It is fair
DTS-HD Master track with a bit of life - obviously not the range of modern films but it's as good as I have ever heard for The Day the Earth Stood Still. There are significant moments of subtle separation for your surround system. Herrmann's score is fabulous with some decent, pounding, depth at times in this mix. Like the image it was actually better than I anticipated. There are optional subtitles offered in
English (SDH), Chinese (traditional and simplified), French or Spanish.

Extras:
Stealing from our review of the SD 2-disc SE - "Okay onto the 'meat' - there are plenty of extras to feast on - with a few duplicated - including the Wise/Meyer commentary and 'Making of..." - Now we get a second optional commentary covering some of the music and other production detail minutia. The participants are film and music historians John Morgan, Steven Smith, William Stromberg and Nick Redman. Redman is knowledgeable and the only one I believe that I have heard previously. I *think* I still prefer the original more 'basic' commentary although this has some definite merit. Bernard Herrmann's isolated score is a great idea and despite owning so much of the composer's soundtracks on CD - this is a new keepsake for me. There is some filler here - but it may appeal to some classic sci-fi aficionados - include in that category The Mysterious, Melodious Theremin with Peter Pringle for about 5 minutes, plus the audio only presentation of the original short story and even Pringle conducting The Day the Earth Stood Still Main Title in a Live Performance for about 2 minutes (I admit to enjoying this a great deal). The 30 minute Race to Oblivion: A Documentary Short Written and produced by Edmund North on disc 2 is in rough shape but very cool with Burt Lancaster. Geeks, (like moi?) will get a kick out of Decoding "Klaatu, Barada, Nikto"; Science Fiction as Metaphor (16:13) and there are two separate featurettes - one on Edmund North (15 minutes) and the other on Harry Bates (11 minutes). There are trailers and quite a few galleries with stills."

Aside from the duplicated supplements there are two Blu-ray exclusives - Interactive Theremin - Create Your Own Score and a Gort Command! Interactive Game if you are so inclined.

 

Bottom line:
A no-brainer in my mind. I absolutely love seeing older films come to
Blu-ray and I hope it's just the beginning
. DVDBeaver intends to support these endeavors and I am thrilled to see a classic looking and sounding as good as this in my home theater. I swoon. Recommended!

 

Gary Tooze

December 3rd, 2008

 

 

  

  

Blu-ray Steelbook coming out May 2014 in the UK:

 

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 7500 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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