H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


Frost / Nixon [Blu-ray]


(Ron Howard, 2008)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Universal Studios

Video: Universal Studios



Region: FREE!

Runtime: 2:01:51.512

Disc Size: 42,230,781,937 bytes

Feature Size: 31,655,497,728 bytes

Average Bitrate: 34.61 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 21st, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3237 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3237 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS Audio French 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
DTS Audio Spanish 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / Dolby Surround
DTS Express English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 16-bit
DTS Express English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / 24-bit



English, English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



• Commentary by director Ron Howard

Discovering Secrets: The People and Places Behind the Story (13:19)

• The Making of Frost / Nixon (22:59)

The Real Interview (7:29)

• The Nixon Library (6:22)

• Seven Deleted Scenes (30:28)


My Scenes





Description: From Academy Award-winning director, Ron Howard, comes the electrifying, untold story behind one of the most unforgettable moments in history. When disgraced President Richard Nixon agreed to an interview with jet-setting television personality, David Frost, he thought he’d found the key to saving his tarnished legacy. But, with a name to make and a reputation to overcome, Frost became one of Nixon’s most formidable adversaries and engaged the leader in a charged battle of wits that changed the face of politics forever. Featuring brilliant portrayals by Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, Frost/Nixon is the fascinating and suspenseful story of truth, accountability, secrets and lies.



The Film:  4/4

Ron Howard's "Frost/Nixon" is a somewhat fictionalized version of the famous 1977 interviews, all the more effective in taking the point of view of the outsider, the "lightweight" celebrity interviewer, then in his own exile in Australia. Precisely because David Frost (Michael Sheen) was at a low ebb professionally and had gambled all his money on the interviews, his POV enhances and deepens the shadows around Nixon (Frank Langella). This story could not have been told from Nixon's POV because we would not have cared about Frost.


Frank Langella and Michael Sheen do not attempt to mimic their characters, but to embody them. There's the usual settling-in period, common to all biopics about people we're familiar with, when we're comparing the real with the performance. Then that fades out and we become absorbed into the drama. Howard uses authentic locations (Nixon's house at San Clemente, Frost's original hotel suite), and there are period details, but the film really comes down to these two compelling intense performances, these two men with such deep needs entirely outside the subjects of the interviews. All we know about the real Frost and the real Nixon is almost beside the point. It all comes down to those two men in that room while the cameras are rolling.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE



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

While the image quality of Frost / Nixon on Blu-ray is competent and quite striking at times, I never felt it was vital to the presentation. This Blu-ray probably looks very authentic to the theatrical with strong detail, vibrant colors and solid contrast. Newsreel type footage looks expectantly scratchy/damaged and the switch back to glorious hi-def makes the 1080P look all-the-more impressive. Some sequences tend to look a bit glossy but overall the dual-layered image, taking up over 30 Gig, is hard to fault.















Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3237 kbps seems somewhat wasted here with hardly any instances of notable separation. Although, when a light-stand bulb bursts on the faux set - I almost jumped out of my skin. Subtleties of the dialogue (hushed tones, slightly aggressive inflections etc.) are rendered perfectly. There is nothing wrong with the mix at all but don't expect a lot of surround usage. Subtitles are offered in English, French or Spanish and the disc is region free - playable on Blu-ray machines world-wide.




Extras :

The supplements appear to duplicate the simultaneously released DVD (available HERE) with optional audio commentary from Ron Howard. While it reveals a fair amount I was only moderately interested but it is nice to get the feeling that he had a real passion for this work. The Blu-ray does have an untested BD-Live and My Scenes functionality. There are some, basically short, featurettes starting with Discovering Secrets: The People and Places Behind the Story running less than 15-minutes about research for the topic and film. The Making of Frost / Nixon is 23-minutes and covers the usual ground with sound-bites. The Real Interview kind of short-changes us with excerpts and comments from the likes of people like Howard and Langella - it runs only 7 1/2 minutes but I see it can be bought on DVD now HERE (again not the entire 28 hour interview). We also have The Nixon Library for 6 minutes and a half-hours worth of 7 Deleted Scenes


This is a highly interesting fictional account of the behind-the-scenes development of the famous interviews. While I was very keen on Frost / Nixon and recommend people see it - I don't know that being on Blu-ray vitally advanced my enjoyment of the film itself. It appears to be a full $9 more and I question whether it is necessary for this particular edition which never demonstrates important satisfaction vis--vis aural or visual grandeur. I doubt we're going to see it looking or sounding any better than it does on this Blu-ray but I expect most would enjoy the DVD (available HERE) just, or almost, as much. However, those more in tune with the hi-def experience may find the extra money a worthy investment. Either way - we endorse the politically and historically interesting film that also simply makes for good 'theater'.


Gary Tooze

April 18th, 2009





About the Reviewer: 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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