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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

A Man Called Horse [Blu-ray]


(Elliot Silverstein, 1970)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Cinema Center Films

Video: Paramount Home Video



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

Runtime: 1:55:21.952

Disc Size: 37,343,253,352 bytes

Feature Size: 35,697,604,608 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30.56 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: May 31st, 2011



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1 Video



DTS-HD Master Audio English 3594 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3594 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 945 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 945 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio French 881 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 881 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 822 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 822 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 867 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 867 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio Spanish 824 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 824 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)



English (SDH), Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, none



• None





Description: The film is based on a short story, "A Man Called Horse", published in 1968 in the book Indian Country by Dorothy M. Johnson. Partially spoken in Sioux, the film tells the history of an English aristocrat, John Morgan, who is captured by a Native American tribe.

Initially enslaved and mocked by being treated as the animal of the title, Morgan comes to respect his captors' culture and gain their respect. He is aided in understanding the Sioux by a captive, Batise, the tribe's fool, who had tried to escape and was hamstrung behind one knee. When one of the warriors takes a vow never to retreat in battle, Morgan's changing perspective is shown, as he turns angrily on the uncomprehending Batise, telling him "Five years you've lived here, and you've learned nothing about these people – all his death is to you is a means of escape."

Determining that his only chance of freedom is to gain the respect of the tribe, he overcomes his repugnance and kills two warriors from another tribe, which allows him to claim warrior status. After his victory, he proposes marriage to one of the women with the horses taken in battle as dowry, and undergoes painful initiation rites, taking the native name "Horse" as his Sioux name. He becomes a respected member of the tribe and ultimately their leader.

Excerpt from Wikipedia located HERE 


The Film:

A Man Called Horse is a rare piece of historical drama directed by Elliot Silverstein. Minor flaws in the style and storyline do not mar its documentary-like feel. The film's crew went to great lengths to reference every detail of Sioux life and culture, which was validated by Clyde Dollar, a Sioux historian-archaeologist. The outcome is impressive. Meshed with the storyline of the film is an ambitious attempt at anthropological reporting. We view an organized system of beliefs, traditions, and customs characteristic of daily life amongst the Sioux. We are challenged to respond with the British aristocrat to their unusual rituals as well. This fascinating film deserves many viewings to fully absorb its many insights.

Excerpt from Spirituality and Practice located HERE

Scratch the surface of an Elliot Silverstein film and you're likely to find a decent but untested protagonist having his or her mettle tested, if not forged outright, by an especially grueling trial by fire. This is true of the long-time TV director's 1965 feature film debut, Cat Ballou (1965), his 1973 rape-revenge drama Nightmare Honeymoon (a project picked up by Silverstein when original director Nicolas Roeg dropped out in the first week of shooting) and the 1977 cult favorite The Car, in which sleepy small town sheriff James Brolin must rise to the occasion of a killer automobile mowing down slow-moving members of his community. Never was this character arc more fully and brutally realized than in the controversial 1970 western A Man Called Horse.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

A Man Called Horse starts with a breathtaking burnt sky sunset and the first 1/3 of the film has more gorgeous outdoor cinematography. On Blu-ray from Paramount this look extremely impressive. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate. There is some gloss but overall the beginning of the film is almost demo material. Colors, like the Sioux head-dresses and war-paint are vibrant and contrast exhibits healthy black levels. Daylight scenes dominate but fire lit evening sequences aren't overly dark. This Blu-ray surprised me with the awe-inspiring visuals - and perhaps this was a reason it was chosen for 1080P release. The print is also very clean and I didn't note any significant noise. This will 'Wow' some people.


















Audio :

Aside from some foreign language DUBs we get the option of two lossless original English tracks; a very robust 5.1 DTS-HD Master at 3594 kbps and a simpler stereo mix that is also uncompressed. Aside from some TomTom drums we have a supportive by Leonard Rosenman. There is aggression in the film but it filters quite gingerly to the surround mix. I wouldn't say it is much of a factor overall. There are optional subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Nutt'in - not even a trailer. The reasonable price reflects as much.



It is hard not to be reminded of Dances With Wolves when watching A Man Called Horse. This is also a very good film - partially a western but more involving an interesting examination of a different lifestyle whose rituals violently conflicted with the developing world. It was so well received they made a sequel - also with Richard Harris. The outdoor cinematography is so impressive it adds to the appeal of the strong film - making it a very viable Blu-ray purchase. It is 'bare-bones' but offered at a very enticing price - which we certainly can give it an endorsement! 

Gary Tooze

May 23rd, 2011



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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