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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze


The Mission [Blu-ray]


(Roland Joffé, 1986)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Warner

Video: Warner Home Video



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

Runtime: 2:05:05.789

Disc Size: 32,459,957,320 bytes

Feature Size: 29,503,494,144 bytes

Video Bitrate: 25.33 Mbps

Chapters: 33

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: October 5th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3747 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3747 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio French 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB / Dolby Surround



English (SDH), Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish, none



• Commentary by director Roland Joffé

'Omnibus' - The Making of The Mission (57:15)





Description: Sweeping and visually resplendent, The Mission is a powerful action epic about a man of the sword (Robert DeNiro) and a man of the cloth (Jeremy Irons) who unite to shield a South American Indian tribe from brutal subjugation by 18th-century colonial empires. It reunites key talents behind The Killing Fields: co-producer David Puttnam, director Roland Joffe and cinematographer Chris Menges.

Winner of the 1986 Cannes Film Festival Best Picture Award, the film earned seven Academy Award nominations (including Best Picture) and won a Best Cinematography Oscar. Robert Bolt's thoughtful screenplay and Ennio Morricone's rich score won Golden Globe Awards. The Mission is screen storytelling that weaves a haunting spell.



The Film:

The year is 1750 and the Catholic Church's power is waning. In South America, territories belonging to Spain, which does not allow trafficking in slaves, are being ceded to Portugal, which does. Caught in the middle of this are the sanctuaries established by the Jesuits for converting and sheltering the local Guarani Indians. The Church must rule whether these Jesuit communities shall be allowed to remain or will be released to secular control. To decree the latter would allow Christian converts to be sold into slavery, but to take a position in favor of the former could be worse, forcing Portugal to abandon the Church, thereby weakening its position not only in the New World but in Europe as well. This is the backdrop against which the events of The Mission transpire.

The Mission focuses on three characters. The first, Father Gabriel (Jeremy Irons), is the head Jesuit at a missionary built high atop a plateau in the jungle. The second, Rodrigo Mendoza (Robert De Niro), is an ex-slave trader who becomes a Jesuit in his search for redemption for killing his brother. The third, Cardinal Altamirano (Ray McAnally), is the Pope's representative in South America, sent to the country ostensibly to determine whether Gabriel's mission should remain a place of sanctuary for the Guarani. In reality, he is present to rubber-stamp the decision for the Jesuits to withdraw from the area. However much this might prick his conscience, he sees it as his duty to protect the Church, and the Spanish and Portuguese officials involved know this is what the eventual decision will be, no matter how desperately Gabriel and Mendoza lobby against it.

Excerpt from James Berardinelli at ReelViews located HERE

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

I think Warner's transfer on Blu-ray of The Mission is an adept one. The film has never exported a pristine crispness (perhaps due to mid-80's stock) yet it has tightened up significantly from the strong SD-DVD from 2003. There are dark scenes that can look heavy but there is also a lot of outdoor cinematography (Chris Menges) that is extremely impressive. The dual-layered disc presentation shows softness but this doesn't seem the fault of the 1080P transfer. Colors are well represented an there is a lot of visual beauty in The Mission - looking frequently compelling. There is a bit of depth early on in the film and contrast is quite competently rendered. I don't think The Mission can look demonstratively superior than this - there is no digital manipulation that I can determine and the Blu-ray probably gives a very accurate representation of the theatrical film.


















Audio :

Notably, Ennio Morricone's score is well supported with a DTS-HD Master 5.1 at 3747 kbps. This would be the highlight of the audio presentation although there are some mild separations with the many waterfall scenes in the first 1/2 of the film. Like the image it doesn't have a crispness that some might expect but there is depth and I suspect that it has never sounded this good - even on the SACD of the film's soundtrack that has floated around since 1993. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

The supplements duplicate the previous 2-disc DVD with the audio commentary by director Roland Joffé. I think this was informative and interesting - he is a good talker and I did gain some appreciation for the production by listening. I think this is a wonderful extra. There is also the 57-minute documentary entitled "Omnibus: The Making of The Mission". It covers a lot of ground from details of shooting loctions in South America to working with the native Waunana Indians (the 'Guarani' in the film). This is also a solid supplement - worth seeing - but there is nothing new and nothing else.



Despite winner of the 1986 Palm d'Or at Cannes and host of Oscar nominations (and eventual winner in the cinematography category) critics still label The Mission as 'uninvolving', 'ponderous', 'preachy', and downright 'boring'. But the same complaints have been made about other contemplative works of cinema over the years. So, you would have to be in a certain mindset to appreciate The Mission. It's deliberate pace and frequent infusion of the surrounding jungle terrain is not for those anticipating something more... dynamic. It's a film that attempts to ambitiously export a historical sense - capturing the requisite cultural of the times. On that level - many would say it succeeds. But the problem with the film is that it strives for more - and doesn't achieve. Even the Blu-ray, it seems, is incapable of supporting the film's imagery to the extent required to engage the viewer on that, intended, lofty level - but it surely does the best job ever for home theater presentations. The audio, i.e. the score, are worthy and the film to those aware of The Mission's artistic leanings and attempts. It can be a curious viewing - and that alone can be an attribute. There are plenty of fans of this film and they should definitely indulge and will appreciate the a/v upgrade. 

Gary Tooze

December 1st, 2010



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.

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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