(Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
H D - S E N S E I
A view on HD DVDs by Gary W. Tooze
(Sam Peckinpah, 1969)
1080p Hi-def 16X9 2.42:1
• Commentary by Peckinpah
biographers/documentarians Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and
From the opening sequence, in which a circle of laughing children poke at a scorpion writhing in a sea of ants, to the infamous blood-spurting finale, Peckinpah completely rewrites John Ford's Western mythology - by looking at the passing of the Old West from the point of view of the marginalized outlaws rather than the law-abiding settlers. Though he spares us none of the callousness and brutality of Holden and his gang, Peckinpah nevertheless presents their macho code of loyalty as a positive value in a world increasingly dominated by corrupt railroad magnates and their mercenary killers (Holden's old buddy Ryan). The flight into Mexico, where they virtually embrace their death at the hands of double-crossing general Fernandez and his rabble army, is a nihilistic acknowledgment of the men's anachronistic status. In purely cinematic terms, the film is a savagely beautiful spectacle, Lucien Ballard's superb cinematography complementing Peckinpah's darkly elegiac vision.
Video: NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were obtained directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Quality is very strong and as with most hi-def discs I was struck by the improved colors and contrast improvement. Much more satisfying than the previous SD DVD which was excessively green and is compared HERE. This Blu-ray is more vibrant with rich and brighter colors but still a few unsightly edge enhancements can be seen. Artifacts are quite rare but do exist in a few sky scenes but I would state that there are no major flaws, or even damage, worth mentioning. It looks to have even better detail than I was anticipating. None of the 3-D-like effect we have seen in the upper echelon of Blu-ray (remember the film is almost 40 years old) but still exceptionally strong and consistent! It's never looked better for home theaters.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
The 5.1 sounded excellent (much akin to the SD SE) - very pure and fairly defined if not as intensely buoyant as modern film scores. There are also two 2.0 channel DUBs - French and Spanish. Audio can be a large part of this film experience and this Blu-ray comes through adequately although complaints of, a false-sounding bump with, directionless positioning are still valid.
Optional English, English (hearing
impaired), Spanish or French subtitles support the
Same as the SD - Special Edition - a commentary by Peckinpah biographers/documentarians Nick Redman, Paul Seydor, Garner Simmons and David Weddle, some additional scenes, a Peckinpah movie trailer gallery and 3 Documentaries: Sam Peckinpah's West: Legacy of a Hollywood Renegade A feature-length biography of the legendary director, 1996 Oscar Nominee The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage and only an excerpt from A Simple Adventure Story: Sam Peckinpah, Mexico and the Wild Bunch - a documentary film by Nick Redman.
BOTTOM LINE: Warner have not reached the heights of Casablanca or The Searchers Hi-def here... and aside from the occasional EE, this is not that far behind. It has some exceptionally well-defined sequences and I prefer the more lively colors, to the sepia brown hues found on SD. I don't know how accurate it is to theatrical, but I do know the resolution and detail are 'top shelf'. This 40ish year old film has never looked sharper for home theater viewing. Strongly recommended!