H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Miracle on 34th Street [Blu-ray]

 

(George Seaton, 1947)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox

Video: Twentieth Century Fox

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:36:24.403

Disc Size: 23,927,927,743 bytes

Feature Size: 20,817,192,960 bytes

Video Bitrate: 22.71 Mbps

Chapters: 24

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 6th, 2009

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 matted to 1.78

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3441 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3441 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
DUBs: Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH),Spanish, none

 

Extras:

Audio commentary by  Maureen O'Hara

• AMC Backstory - Miracle on 34th Street (22:06)
• Fox Movietone News: Hollywood Spotlight (1:46)
• Promotional Short (5:05)
• Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Floating in History (15:29)

• Poster Gallery

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Kris Kringle--unbeknownst to cynical, market-minded adults, the real Santa Claus--is hired to play himself at Macy's Department Store, New York City. His gentle, joyous spirit and magical powers soon transform those around him, including a little girl and her world-weary mother.

 

Six year old Susan has doubts childhood's most enduring miracle Santa Clause. Her mother told her the "secret" about Santa a long time ago, so Susan doesn't expect to receive the most important gifts on her Christmas list. But after meeting a special department store Santa who's convinced he's the real thing, Susan is given the most precious gift of all - something to believe in.

 

 

The Film:

Though the basis of the film is belief in Santa Claus, the conflicts (e.g.) from the wannabe psychiatrist, responsible for institutionalizing Kris, and within the judge & district attorney as they try to at once uphold the principles of law and their reputations without alienating voters & their families contribute much (amusingly so) to the story. These story-lines are seamlessly combined with the "love" story between the two main adult characters, parenting philosophy, the theme of faith ("believing when common sense tells you not to"), and the commercialization of Christmas. The plot's only flaw, in my opinion, is the lack of any real on-screen development of the love between the adults (who presumably are married after the film ends).

Particularly memorable is young Natalie Wood's character's transformation from "practical", loner child to one that learns for the first time to pretend (to be an animal in a zoo), and the (sanity hearing) courtroom scenes including the DA being completely "disarmed" by his own son and, of course, when postal workers pour 50,000 letters on the judge's desk which prompts his well worded ruling "if a branch of the United States government recognizes this man as the one and only Santa Claus, I'll not dispute it ... case dismissed!".

Excerpt from Classic Film Guide located HERE

 

 


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

Looking at the comparison captures from the 2006 DVD - contrast on the new 1080P Blu-ray version has much better range with richer black levels but the overall image looks darker itself probably meaning the DVD had some brightness boosting. It can tend to look pale beside the Blu-ray. Where the DVD package from 2006 offered both the colorized and original black + white version, the Blu-ray has only the original. To be fair - the colorization wasn't bad at all - as far as that practice goes although the homogenization of the palette is fairly easy to identify with excess gold/yellow. The Blu-ray appears to have some movement in the frame and can be slightly cropped on various edges but it doesn't have any of the infrequent vertical scratch lines or speckles that appeared on both version on the 2006 DVD (see third comparative sample below). Where the black and white SD-DVD rendering snuck in some chroma - none is visible in the HD transfer of the film. There is hardly any digital noise on the Blu-ray that was visible on both DVDs. Grain looks appealing and it consistently apparent on the Blu-ray visuals. Technically speaking the 1080P is on a single-layered Blu-ray disc with the feature taking up over 20 Gig of space. It has about 4 times the bitrate of the DVD. I don't see untoward digital manipulations like DNR or edge-enhancement. It looks quite strong in my opinion - better than I was anticipating.   

 

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

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray  - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Colorized - 2006 DVD DVD TOP vs. B/W - 2006 DVD MIDDLE vs. Region FREE Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

The DTS-HD Master 5.1 at a healthy 3441 kbps sounds very capable and much stronger than the Dolby Digital 2.0 channel at 224 kbps that is also offered as an option. Separation is not an issue with the lossless track which is appropriate as anything too buoyant wouldn't suit the film. The DTS sounds more like a linear PCM track to me - but regardless it fits the bill very well. Cyril Mockridge's score is not particularly rememberable and the HD track proportions its adeptly within the film. There are 2 foreign language DUBs and Spanish subtitle options. Surprisingly my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras :

The supplements appear to duplicate some, but not all, of the 2006 DVD.  It's the same quasi-commentary by Maureen O'Hara which is actually excerpts from an August 2006 interview. Still hearing her speak about the film is enjoyable enough despite the lack of in-depth comments. Extras are kind of sparse actually with the AMC Backstory - Miracle on 34th Street for 22-minutes and a brief Fox Movietone News: Hollywood Spotlight. There is a vintage Promotional Short that last 5 minutes and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade: Floating in History for 15. After that we only have a poster gallery but nothing appears to be in HD.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
This Christmas classic needs no accolades from DVDBeaver. Is it a significant enough bump in A/V to warrant a purchase? - yes, I'd say, absolutely. It will probably look even better on your system than the static captures above. It's a wonderful film and I look forward to viewing again nearer the Holidays. It won't surpass It's a Wonderful Life for me - but it is very high on the list. We recommend.   

Gary Tooze

September 28th, 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 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 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:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
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)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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