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The Outlaw Josey Wales [Blu-ray]
(Clint Eastwood, 1976)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video:Warner Home Video
Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 35,538,137,230 bytes
Feature Size: 29,246,097,408 bytes
Video Bitrate: 21.96 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: June 7th, 2011
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3590 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3590 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 Digital Audio French 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio German 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Italian 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
* Dolby Digital Audio Japanese 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
English (SDH), Danish, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, none
• Commentary by Richard Schickel
•Clint Eastwood's West (29:02 in 1080P)
• Hell Hath No Fury: The Making of The Outlaw Josey Wales (30:29 in 480i)
•Eastwood in Action (7:55 in 480i)
•Theatrical Trailer (2:16 in 480i)
Description: As The Outlaw Josey Wales, five-time Academy Award winner* Clint Eastwood is ideally cast as a hard-hitting, fast-drawing loner, recalling his “Man with No Name” from his European Westerns. But unlike that other mythic outlaw, Josey Wales has a name – and a heart. After avenging his family’s brutal murder, Wales is on the lam, pursued by a pack of killers. He travels alone, but a ragtag group of outcasts (including Sondra Locke and Chief Dan George) is drawn to him – and Wales can’t leave his motley surrogate family unprotected. Eastwood’s skills behind and in front of the camera connected with audiences for its humor and tenderness as well as its hair-trigger action.
A remarkable film which sets out as a revenge Western: Eastwood sees his family massacred and joins the Confederate guerillas; after the Civil War, he is hunted by Union soldiers while he pursues his family's slayer and a friend apparently turned traitor. But slowly the film changes direction, until through a series of comic interludes it becomes the story of a man who (re)discovers his role as family man, as he befriends Indians and various strays and leads them to a paradise of sorts where they can forget their individual pasts. If that seems like a rewrite of Hawks' Red River, visually The Outlaw Josey Wales is closest to Anthony Mann in its breathtaking survey of American landscapes (and seasons). Most importantly, after a period of directorial uncertainty, the film demonstrated Eastwood's ability to recreate his first starring role, as the mythic Man with No Name of the Italian Westerns, and to subtly undercut it through comedy and mockery.
Clint Eastwood's fifth directorial effort, The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), appeared in the bicentennial year of 1976 when a heavy rotation of Westerns made a return to the movie theaters. Breakheart Pass, The Missouri Breaks, Buffalo Bill and the Indians and The Shootist were a few of the other Westerns that appeared alongside Eastwood's film, his second Western as director, after High Plains Drifter in 1973. What makes The Outlaw Josey Wales different from those other fine films is the distinction of bridging two distinct eras, that of the classic Western - pictures by John Ford, Howard Hawks, Anthony Mann, et al - and those of the New Hollywood that tolerated personal visions shot outside the structure of the studio system. While Eastwood wasn't the first of the new generation of filmmakers to make quality Westerns, he was among the first to use classically-held motifs of the Western - the lone hero who must stand apart from the civilization that he protects - and turn them on their head, but without entirely subverting them (such as Robert Altman does in 1971's McCabe and Mrs. Miller). Nor did he inject a new tone or approach that did not feel authentic for a Western milieu, such as the contemporary humor in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). In his book Directed by Clint Eastwood: Eighteen Films Analyzed, author Lawrence Knapp writes of Eastwood's style of Western: "Like (John) Ford's melancholy and wistful Westerns, Eastwood's films question the codes that constitute American cinema and society without degenerating into impassioned, dogmatic critiques of the system or human nature."
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
The Outlaw Josey Wales appears impressively vibrant and thick on Blu-ray from Warner. The outdoor cinematography gives some pause with its overwhelming scope impact. The image shows even grain and loses a notch in terms of detail showing a bit of softness. However, I doubt this is the fault of the dual-layered transfer with a bitrate over 20 Mbps. At times I considered labeling the appearance of some characters as 'waxy' - indicating digital manipulation - but I don't believe that this is the case. It look more like the production style. Colors are the standout with blues, greens and yellows making themselves prominent in the 2.39:1 frame. Daylight scenes are dominant and the natural lighting is impressive for the contrast. There is some darkness but noise was not an issue in my viewing. I'd have to say that this Blu-ray does its job extremely well - replicating the epic feel of a theatrical presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Warner supply a powerful DTS-HD Master 5.1 track at 3590 kbps. The range is not as big an issue as the depth which comes through with notable bass. The score is by journeyman composer Jerry Fielding (Straw Dogs). When utilized it sounds impressive but never ventures to overtake the onscreen activity where effect noises and aggression punch through your speakers. There are many optional subtitle choices as well as foreign language stereo and mono DUBs and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
The supplements have some new features beyond the last DVD with an excellent Richard Schickel commentary referencing Clint's iconic body of westerns and many keen production details - plus there is a new 1/2 documentary entitled Clint Eastwood’s West, featuring Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Oliver Stone, and James Mangold. More supplements include, from the past DVD, the 1/2 hour Hell Hath No Fury: The Making of The Outlaw Josey Wales, 8-minute featurette 'Eastwood in Action' and a theatrical trailer - the latter 3 in 480i. The commentary is golden and shouldn't be missed by Eastwood's fan-base.
June 2nd, 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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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