H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

M*A*S*H [Blu-ray]

 

(Robert Altman, 1970)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Ingo Preminger Productions

Video: Twentieth Century Fox

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:55:54.989

Disc Size: 41,536,720,093 bytes

Feature Size: 32,699,664,384 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.98 Mbps

Chapters: 40

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 1st, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3266 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3266 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 /
48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 24-bit)
DUBs: DTS Audio German 768 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Thai 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps

Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 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

 

Subtitles:

English, English (SDH), Chinese (traditional and simplified), Danish, Finnish, French (text only), German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, none

 

Extras:

• Commentary by Robert Altman

The Complete Interactive Guide to M*A*S*H

• History Through the Lens - MASH Comedy Under Fire - 44:08 SD
Enlisted: The Story of MASH - 40:53 SD
Remembering MASH's 30th Anniversary LA 30:02 SD
AMC Backstory MASH 24:27

• Trailers

• Stills Gallery

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: One of the world's most acclaimed comedies, M*A*S*H focuses on three Korean War Army surgeons brilliantly brought to life by Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt and Elliott Gould. Though highly skilled and deeply dedicated, they adopt a hilarious, lunatic lifestyle as an antidote to the tragedies of their Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, and in the process infuriate Army bureaucrats. Robert Duvall, Gary Burghoff and Sally Kellerman co-star as a sanctimonious Major, an other-worldly corporal, and a self-righteous yet lusty nurse.

 

 

The Film:

The performances have a lot to do with the movie's success. Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland are two genuinely funny actors; they don't have to make themselves ridiculous to get a laugh. They're funny because their humor comes so directly from their personalities. They underplay everything (and Sutherland and Gould trying to downstage each other could eventually lead to complete paralysis).

Strangely enough, they're convincing as surgeons. During operations, covered with blood and gore, they mutter their way through running commentaries that sound totally professional. Sawing and hacking away at a parade of bodies, they should be driving us away, but they don't. We can take the unusually high gore-level in "M*A*S*H" because it is originally part of the movie's logic. If the surgeons didn't have to face the daily list of maimed and mutilated bodies, none of the rest of their lives would make any sense.

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.
 

A few years back M*A*S*H underwent a fairly extensive restoration but it became obvious that it would never improve beyond the stock used and the intended realistic appearance of an Altman film with heavily diffused lighting (using fog filters) to export a dirty and muddy aura. It is soft by design and while still remaining drab, thick and almost worn at times, it looks significantly superior on Blu-ray to any of the previous DVD editions. Chunkier grain exists and noise are apparent in the mono-chromatic darker scenes. I strongly suspect some DNR. More due to the film's almost 40-year age it is expectantly flatter than we have seen from this format. Skin tones occasionally seem warm - but there are no demonstrative flaws... or high points. Detail is still subject but advances upon the latest SD editions. M*A*S*H will never appear brilliant, pristine or glossy. It wasn't meant to. Those with modern expectations of crispness and vibrancy, as commonly found in the 1080P format, will no doubt be dissatisfied. This Blu-ray exports a consistent feel that seems far more exacting to original intentions. In motion this 32.5 Gig transfer of the film looks far closer to how M*A*S*H was meant to - in my humble opinion. 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

As noted on the restoration featurette on the last DVD - the audio for M*A*S*H was problematic with portions of the track lost - some requiring re-recording. The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3266 kbps seems to make the best of a bad situation. Dialogue is hollow and scattered akin to other Altman films like the later McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) or Nashville (1975) and I can't help but get the feeling that this, again, is close to the most accurate representation. There are minimal separations. Johnny Mandel's "Suicide Is Painless" sung during the opening credits and the 'last supper' scene sounds magnificently crisp and clear. There is a 2.0 channel track available which I also liked in the brief testing I did. Their are a host of foreign language DUBs and optional subtitle options (a few are only text though - not dialogue) and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

 

Extras :

We have the same commentary by director Robert Altman, whom we lost in November 2006, as heard on the previous DVD edition. It's a bit quiet and filled with long gaps but when he does impart information - it's golden. The Complete Interactive Guide to M*A*S*H is a new quasi-interactive feature - because of the large cast this gimmick lists, with thumbnail icons, the active characters, and or relationships as the film runs. Each scene also details other activities with suicide, spirits, sanctity etc. icons. It's initially amusing but wears thin pretty fast especially the buzzer or organ sound that signify a change in the specific activity. The rest seems like past 1:33 SD featurettes seen on the older digital editions including the 45-minute History Through the Lens - MASH Comedy Under Fire (narrated by Burt Reynolds), 40 minutes of Enlisted: The Story of MASH, Remembering MASH's 30th Anniversary for 1/2 an hour and the 25-minute AMC Backstory MASH. There are also 2 trailers and a stills gallery. Lots to go through but slightly disappointing that there wasn't more, or better, new material.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Richard Hooker's novel adapted by Ring Lardner Jr., helmed by Altman and supported with iconic performances by Sutherland, Gould, Skerritt, Kellerman, Duvall and many others make M*A*S*H a timeless film. It's as good now as it ever was and this smoky, imperfectly looking Blu-ray image and tinny dialogue suit the presentation to an artistic 'T'. This is infinitely superior to its DVD counterpart and despite the lack of viable new supplemental content we give this a strong recommendation. 

Gary Tooze

August 22nd, 2009

The game of life is hard to play
I'm gonna lose it anyway
The losing card I'll someday lay
so this is all I have to say.

That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
and I can take or leave it if I please.

 

 


 

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
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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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