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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


South Pacific [Blu-ray]


(Joshua Logan, 1958)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: 20th Century Fox

Video: 20th Century Fox


Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:37:29.648

Disc Size: 46,193,956,770 bytes

Feature Size: 45,610,450,944 bytes

Average Bitrate: 38.61 Mbps

Chapters: 48

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 31st, 2009



Aspect ratio: 2.20:1

Resolution: 1080p

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3722 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3722 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French (Parisian) 384 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 4.0 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps



English, Chinese (traditional and simplified), French, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, none



Disc One

• Audio Commentary by Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization President Ted Chapin and Musical Theater Writer Gerard Alessandrini
Sing-A-Long Karaoke Subtitles (English only)
Songs-Only Option

Disc Two
Extended “Road Show Version” of South Pacific in SD (with 15 additional minutes of footage)
Commentary by Film Historian Richard Barrios
“Passion, Prejudice and South Pacific: Creating An American Masterpiece” full-length documentary (BD Exclusive)
“Making Of South Pacific” original featurette (14:01 in HD)
“60 Minutes Exclusive: The Tales of the South Pacific” with Diane Sawyer and writer James Michener
Fox Movietone News: “South Pacific on the Screen – A Perfect Hit” and “State Department Confers High Honor on South Pacific”
Vintage Stage Excerpts Performed by Original Broadway Stars Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza
“Some Enchanted Evening”  and “A Wonderful Guy”

Mitzy Gaynor Screen Test (HD)
Original Theatrical Trailer





Description: For its Blu-ray release, South Pacific underwent a complete photochemical restoration of its original 65mm negative, and underwent an 8k high definition scan of the brand new interpositive. For the first time in high definition, you can enjoy Leon Shamroy's widescreen photography of the Hawaiian locations and be dazzled by director Joshua Logan’s famous filtered sequences. The original soundtrack will, for the first time ever, be presented in uncompressed, Lossless DTS audio.



The Film:

Everyone who wished that "South Pacific" might be made into a large, luxurious film, glowing with literal scenic detail of lush green islands in blue tropical seas, bursting with a grand romantic story and brimming with stereophonic songs, need have no further anxiety. His wish has been fulfilled.

The screen version of the famous stage show, which Twentieth Century-Fox has produced and which opened last night at the Criterion with a benefit showing for the Police Athletic League, is a tremendously big picture. It runs for close to three hours and fills a huge arcing panel that goes with its projection process, Todd-AO.

It gives out with most of the enchantments of the Richard Rodgers-Oscar Hammerstein 2d musical. It is performed by a cast almost as winning as the one that played it on Broadway. And what it lacks in the more subtle values the show had upon the stage is balanced by frank spectacular features that will probably fascinate folks who go to films.

Most obvious and striking of these features is a photographic method used by Leon Shamroy, camera man, that bathes in changing rainbow hues most of the scenes and settings in which the musical numbers are sung.

Excerpt from The NY Times located HERE



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

DVDBeaver gets plenty of e-mail from passionate fans who are far more knowledgeable about original theatrical film showings than I am - so I better state immediately that I make no representations about the original color of South Pacific on this 8k transfer to Blu-ray. I can only state my impressions and they are that it looks absolutely unbelievable for a film over 50 years old as I hope the below screen captures will bear out. The transfer has produced an image that is drenched in luxurious color. The visuals can be overwhelming at times with minor, fine, consistent grain and astounding detail. There is plenty of unique cinematography utilizing, deep blue, orange and reddish filters (sample below) - that director Joshua Logan eventually regretted until he saw it on TV many years later. The Todd-AO format (an extremely high definition widescreen film format developed in the mid 1950s) with an aspect ratio of 2.20:1 appears successfully maintained. Todd-AO, unlike Cinerama, required but a single camera and lens with 4 lens options (in focal lengths of 35 mm to 56 mm, 63 mm, 65 mm, or 70 mm) covering respectively 128, 64, 48 or 37 degree field of view.


The feature takes up OVER 45 Gig of the entire dual-layered Blu-ray disc with a whopping bit-rate. If this is the start of future Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals coming to high-definition - then fans are in for an incredible treat. This looks, in a word, stunning.













Audio :

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at 3722 kbps sounds beautiful or rather the music does and the mix translates it impressively with pure intent. I sampled the original 4.0 at 448 kbps and this seemed strong as well - with obviously less depth and bass. There is also a 2.0 channel at 224 kbps and 2 foreign language DUBs. There is separation - more than I would have anticipated but this is far from an aggressive, modern, action track. Again, I'll claim ignorance - I don't know what South Pacific is supposed to sound like - I can only state that Richard Rodgers score sounded marvelous to me - and may be much stronger than you expect with crisp tones that resonate throughout the the room. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.




Extras :

The supplements extend to a second Blu-ray disc that includes the extended “Road Show Version” of South Pacific (with 15 additional minutes of footage) with commentary by Film Historian Richard Barrios. The first disc - as well as the feature has an optional commentary by Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization President Ted Chapin and Musical Theater Writer Gerard Alessandrini filling the 2+ hours with production information although they do seem quiet at times. Suffice to say between both commentaries you will undoubtedly learn some, lesser-known, details about South Pacific. and like I, gaining some immense appreciation along the way. There is also Sing-A-Long Karaoke with subtitles (English only) and a Songs-Only Option eliminating all other dialogue and effect sounds. Disc two has a wonderful documentary entitled “Passion, Prejudice and South Pacific: Creating An American Masterpiece” running over 1.5 hours (exclusive to the BD release). As described by W.B. Smith on Amazon - "It is wonderfully crafted, with interviews from actual WWII Seabees and nurses, along with amazing Technicolor footage of the war. This documentary is hosted most charmingly by Mitzi Gaynor, who looks terrific and is completely self-effacing and enjoyable. It also includes interviews (but no performance footage) of the stars of the new Lincoln Center revival. The observations by relatives of Rodgers, Hammerstein, and Logan are candid and insightful." There are two other featurettes - the original “Making Of South Pacific” in HD (14:01 in black and white 4:3) and a 15 minute segment from “60 Minutes"- The Tales of the South Pacific hosted by Diane Sawyer about writer James Michener. Tidbits include Fox Movietone News: “South Pacific on the Screen – A Perfect Hit” and the “State Department Confers High Honor on South Pacific” plus some vintage stage excerpts of “Some Enchanted Evening” and "A Wonderful Guy” performed by the original Broadway stars Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza - as well as Mitzy Gaynor's screen test in HD and an original theatrical trailer. Whewww...


NOTE: Before the second disc Road Show (actually in SD in 5.1 or 4.0 audio) viewing you get this caveat - ..."The Master is restored - taken from the original negative and Master sound elements, cut for the 'General Release'. There are approximately 14-additional minutes in the Road Show version and you will notice a significant difference between the Road Show footage and the footage that is shared by both versions Over time, the best elements unique to the Road Show have been lost or destroyed, so we have taken those sequences from the best source elements available."



What a way to see South Pacific - it's almost exhausting. The image and entire package on Blu-ray is, to date, the hi-def release of the year so far. This is an immense and important achievement by Fox and we relish their commitment while looking forward to much more. This package is a real treat for fans of hi-def, musicals and cinephiles in general. Despite our lack of discerning knowledge and experience to critique the minutia of the image further - this has our highest recommendation! It's a steal at the offered price! 

Gary Tooze

March 19th, 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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