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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Wake in Fright [Blu-ray]

 

(Ted Kotcheff, 1971)

 

 

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: NLT Productions

Video: Madman Video / Image Entertainment / Masters of Cinema - Spine # 88

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! / Region 'A' / Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:48:54.083  / 1:48:54.083 / 1:48:48.458

Disc Size: 23,355,363,484 bytes / 22,637,651,208 bytes / 41,332,438,402 bytes

Feature Size: 19,194,605,568 bytes / 17,506,885,632 bytes / 33,389,573,568 bytes

Video Bitrate: 21.99 Mbps / 19.98 Mbps / 34.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12 / 12 / 9

Case: Standard Blu-ray case (Transparent for MoC)

Release date: June 27th, 2010 / January 15th, 2013 / March 31st, 2014

 

Video (same on all 3):

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

 

Subtitles:

None / English, none / English, none

 

Extras:

• Audio Commentary with director Ted Kotcheff and editor Anthony Buckley
Interview with Director Kotcheff (23:16)
Theatrical Trailer, International Trailer - 'Outback' (alt title - :34)
TV Spot: Who Needs Art? (1971) - segment on Wake In Fright (6:00)

Chips Rafferty Obituary by Ken G. Hall (3:42)
TV Spot: ABC's 7:30 Report - Rediscovery and Restoration of the film (6:40)
Restoration Comparison (1:57)
Deleted Scenes From the 2008 documentary, Not Quite Hollywood (6:09)
Teaser Trailer / Madman Promos
32 liner notes pages Booklet

 

• Audio Commentary with director Ted Kotcheff and editor Anthony Buckley

To Yabba and Back - Interview with Director Kotcheff (12:45)

• Q+A with Kotcheff at the 2009 TIFF (45:51)

• TV Spot: Who Needs Art? (1971) - segment on Wake In Fright (6:00)

• Chip Rafferty's Obituary (3:19)

• TV Spot: ABC's 7:30 Report on the Rediscovery and Restoration of the Film (6:24)

• Trailer (2:00) and other trailers

 

Feature length audio commentary with director Ted Kotcheff and editor Anthony Buckley
Video interview from 2009 with Ted Kotcheff (23:16)
ABC s 7:30 Report video piece on the the rediscovery and restoration of the film (6:35)
Who Needs Art? vintage piece on Wake in Fright (5:36)
Chips Rafferty obituary clip (3:28)
Outback TV spot (:34)
UK theatrical trailer (1:43)
48-PAGE BOOKLET featuring essays by Adrian Martin, Peter Galvin, Meg Labrum, Graham Shirley, Ted Kotcheff and Anthony Buckley, and archival imagery.

DVD included

 

Bitrate:

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Description:

Sweat, Dust and Beer... There's Nothing Else Out Here Mate!

Awe-inspiring, brutal and stunning, Wake in Fright is the story of John Grant, a bonded teacher who arrives in the rough outback mining town of Bundanyabba planning to stay overnight before catching the plane to Sydney. But his one night stretches to five and he plunges headlong toward his own destruction. When the alcohol-induced mist lifts, the educated John Grant is no more. Instead there is a self-loathing man in a desolate wasteland, dirty, red-eyed, sitting against a tree and looking at a rifle with one bullet left...

Believed lost for many years, Wake in Fright has been painstakingly restored by Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive and AtLab Deluxe, and is presented in its original uncompromising form.

***

Wake in Fright tells the story of a young school teacher who descends into a personal hell after finding himself stranded in a brutal, menacing town in outback Australia.

For many years, Wake In Fright enjoyed a reputation as Australia’s great 'lost' film because its unavailability on video tape or DVD -- and its absence from television broadcasts -- meant that it was little seen after its original run of screenings. However, in mid-2009 a thoroughly restored, digital re-release of Wake in Fright was shown in Australian theatres to considerable acclaim. Later that same year, it was issued commercially on DVD and Blu-ray disc, reaffirming its status as a classic of the Australian cinema.

 

 

The Film:

John Grant (Gary Bond) is a fledgling, middle-class teacher from the big city. He feels disgruntled because of the onerous terms of a financial bond which he signed with the government in return for receiving a tertiary education. The bond has caused him to be posted to a tiny school at Tiboonda -- a remote fly-speck situated in the arid Australian outback. It is the start of the Christmas school holidays, and Grant plans to journey to Sydney to visit his girlfriend and surf at the beach. But first, he must travel by train to the nearby mining town of Bundanyabba (known as “The Yabba”) in order to catch a Sydney-bound flight.

At "The Yabba", Grant encounters several disconcerting denizens of the town. They include a police sergeant, Jock Crawford (Chips Rafferty), who encourages Grant to consume repeated glasses of beer before introducing him to the local obsession with the gambling game of two-up. Hoping to win enough money to pay off his bond, and thus escape his "slavery" as an outback teacher, Grant at first has a winning streak playing two-up but then loses all his cash. Unable now to leave "The Yabba", Grant finds himself dependent on the charity of bullying strangers while being sucked into the crude and hard-drinking lifestyle of the town's residents.

Reluctantly at first, Grant goes boozing with a Bundanyabba identity named Tim Hynes (Al Thomas) and is taken to Tim's house. Here he meets Tim's daughter, 30-something Janette (played by Sylvia Kay, the then-wife of the movie's director Ted Kotcheff). While he and Janette talk, several men who have gathered at the house for a drinking session question Grant’s masculinity, asking: “What’s the matter with him? He’d rather talk to a woman than drink beer.” Janette then initiates an awkward sexual episode with Grant, who vomits and eventually passes out drunk. Grant finds refuge of a sort, staying at the shack of an alcoholic medical practitioner known as "Doc" Tydon (Donald Pleasence). Doc tells him that he and many others have had sex with Janette. He also gives Grant a pill from his medical kit, ostensibly to cure Grant's hangover.

Later, an inebriated Grant participates in a barbaric kangaroo hunt with Doc and Doc's friends Dick (Jack Thompson) and Joe (Peter Whittle). The hunt culminates in Grant clumsily stabbing a wounded kangaroo to death, followed by a pointless drunken brawl between Dick and Joe and the vandalising of a bush pub. At night's end, Grant returns to Doc's shack where Doc initiates a homosexual encounter between the two.

A repulsed Grant leaves the next morning and walks across the desert. He tries to hitchike to Sydney, but in error boards a truck that takes him straight back to "The Yabba". He contemplates shooting Doc, but instead attempts suicide. Grant recovers in hospital from his suicide bid and Doc sees him off at "The Yabba's" rail station. He returns to Tiboonda for the new school year.

Excerpt from Wickipedia located HERE

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

Wake in Fright is kind of a hidden gem in that was thought lost but the restoration and subsequent digital releases have given it exposure to a new, appreciative, audience. This may not look 'perfect' on Blu-ray in modern-film-transfer terms but for a 40-year old piece of clandestine cinema, of its nature, and with its history - it looks very good.  Any softness is consistent and seems inherent in the print source but there are some impressive moments of detail. There a green cast over a lot of the film and it's not distracting but worth noting. This is only single-layered with a bitrate in the mid-twenties so some noise is occasionally prevalent. It looks quite smooth but never glossy but there are some cases of blown out brightness - again probably inherent in the film's original cinematography. Having never seen the film prior to this viewing - I'd have to guess that this is a remarkable presentation - quite clean although don't expect any depth or brilliant colors.

Foolish of me to match so many screen captures as this is the same D1 source as evidenced by the running time (to the 1000th of a second). The Image does have a slightly lesser bitrate and may me marginally softer - but this is almost imperceptible on a standard viewing level. It is from the same restoration and the video comments above hold true.

Masters of Cinema give us the most robust transfer dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. I need to peer quite close but it shows up in background artifacts - more prevalent on the other two 1080P transfer. This is the one you would project and the best video rendering of the three.  

 

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

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

2) Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray MIDDLE

3) Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

Audio :

No boost going on here - its a flat 2.0 channel track pushing dialogue, crowd noises and some gunplay. I like the authenticity but fans who indulge for their Surround systems will, obviously, be left empty handed with Wake in Fright. Without a lossless audio rendering nothing is notably crisp or has demonstrative range or depth. A linear PCM track would have been the choice here. The track may have had restoration as well as it is without heavy flaws. Unfortunately, there are no subtitles offered but the Aussie accents aren't disagreeably thick and I didn't have any instances where I couldn't interpret the dialogue. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

Same audio - still not lossless, but the Image Entertainment has optional English subtitles and is region 'A'-locked.

Masters of Cinema also improve upon the sound with a linear PCM 2.0 channel at a solid 2304 kbps. Both other audio transfers were standard Dolby and this uncompressed quality is significantly superior. It is that much crisper and connotes some mood-influencing bass depth. MoC offer optional English subtitles on their region 'B'-locked disc.

 

Extras :

There are some solid extra here - nice to see the effort has been put in with a commentary by director Ted Kotcheff and editor Anthony Buckley, a 25-minute interview with Kotcheff , some older TV Spots (a dozen minutes), a restoration comparison, deleted scenes, old trailers and a nice 32 liner notes pages booklet. NOTE: Extras played on my region 'A'-locked Oppo.

Mostly the same extras - same commentary, an interview, an interesting and lengthy Q+A at TIFF. TV Spot on restoration and the Who Needs Art? (1971) piece. No significant differences.

Masters of Cinema jump ahead with most of the extras of both other releases and then some. They include the same feature length audio commentary with director Ted Kotcheff and editor Anthony Buckley as found on both other releases plus the 23-minute, 2009, Kotcheff interview available on the Madman Video Blu-ray. The ABC 7:30 Report video piece on the the rediscovery and restoration of the film running 6.5 minutes was on both previous releases - as was the 5.5-minute Who Needs Art? vintage piece on Wake in Fright. Chips Rafferty short obituary clip was also on both and the UK label adds and Outback TV spot and UK theatrical trailer. But their biggest bonus is the 48-page booklet featuring essays by Adrian Martin, Peter Galvin, Meg Labrum, Graham Shirley, Ted Kotcheff and Anthony Buckley, and archival imagery. Being Dual-Format this also has a DVD included with the feature and all the supplements of the Blu-ray.

 

Madman Video - Region FREE - Blu-ray LEFT vs. Image Entertainment - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

 
 

 

Masters of Cinema - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Pretty interesting film that grew on me a lot more in my second viewing (the commentary). It is quite subtle in some areas but obvious in others. There is a lot to like here. I wouldn't put this in the class of Walkabout or Picnic at Hanging Rock but I think it's a great film to have on Blu-ray - one I'm sure to revisit. Quite an indictment of Australian culture! The package is done up with some viable, worthy extras and it's not a film you are likely to see on TV too often. I encourage those willing to venture here to indulge in the Blu-ray - the best way you are going to see it today in your home theater although we have heard rumor of a North American release in the future. Those prudent can wait - but for the less patient and adventurous - we recommend.

This is a film that tends to grow on you - and get better - with subsequent viewings. Nice to see Image Entertainment have made it more accessible for North American audiences. Certainly worthy of any digital library.

Bona-fide classic and now with the upgraded video and audio we have the definitive HD edition from our friends at The Masters of Cinema. Also this package has the best cover and most valuable extras with the booklet! Certainly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

April 24th, 2010

January 1st, 2013

March 5th, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

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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