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|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(Franklin J. Schaffner, 1973)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Allied Artists Pictures
Video:Warner Home Video / Sony
Region: FREE! (both) (as verified by the Oppo)
Runtime: 2:30:47.079 /2:30:31.063
Disc Size: 29,422,303,433 bytes / 42,589,184,297 bytes
Feature Size: 28,696,614,912 bytes / 40,413,149,184 bytes
Video Bitrate: 19.96 Mbps / 29.92 Mbps
Chapters: 39 / 16
Case: Digibook Blu-ray case / standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase
Release date: May 24th, 2011 / September 17th, 2018
Aspect ratio: 2.39:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 4007 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4007 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2182 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2182
kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 1559 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1559
kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
English (SDH), French, Spanish, none
English (SDH), English, Danish, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish, none
• The Magnificent Rebel (12:19 - 480i)
34-page Digibook with essay and photos
‘Magnificent Rebel” featurette(11:49 in PAL)
Description: They called him Papillon, meaning butterfly. If only he had wings to go with the name. Unable to fly, Henri Charriere virtually willed himself free. He persisted until he did the impossible: escape Devil’s Island. Based on Charriere’s bestseller and shot in Spain and Jamaica, Franklin J. Schaffner’s film of Papillon united two stars at key career junctures. After a decade of fine work in The Great Escape, The Sand Pebbles and Bullitt, Steve McQueen found in Charriere another ideal tough-guy role. Coming off The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy and Little Big Man, Dustin Hoffman again distinguished himself as Dega, Charriere’s scruffy friend.
Hoffman became angry and uncooperative for a period of time after he
discovered that although he and McQueen would receive equal billing, he
was actually making $750,000 less than his co-star. Although they didn't
really speak to each other between takes or after principal photography
was completed, they behaved professionally on the set for the most part.
"Papillon," Franklin J. Schaffner's film version of the late Henri
Charrière's book about his adventures in various penal colonies in
French Guiana, is a big, brave, stouthearted, sometimes romantic,
sometimes silly melodrama with the kind of visual sweep you don't often
find in movies anymore.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Papillon on Blu-ray from Warner tends to improve its appearance as the films rolls along. It becomes extremely impressive in the tropical paradise that Henri Charriere finds himself about 3/4s in. This is dual-layered with a modest bitrate. It has more of the 'scope' magnitude effect with some strong cinematography by DoP Fred Koenekamp. Colors seem passive at times without boosted vibrancy and contrast exhibits healthy, rich black levels. I wouldn't say detail was a defining feature of the film or transfer but it gave me a solid presentation where I was frequently wow'ed by the breadth of the visuals. Grain is not abundant - and noise is minimal - artifacts are not readily apparent. This Blu-ray has a genuine 'filmic' feel and probably looked similar to a theatrical viewing almost 40 years ago. I noted no significant flaws and have doubts it could look much better in this 1080P format.
Sony go with dual-layering and a 50% increase in the bitrate - this shows with bolder, richer colors (warmer skin tons) and an overall superior image in-motion - not a hint of noise, slightly more consistent grain and the more robust technical transfer produces a more film-like presentation.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Solid lossless track using a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at a buoyant 4007 kbps. There is some aggression but most is subdued and suspenseful. It's a Jerry Goldsmith score supporting the film extremely well via the uncompressed transfer. There wasn't a lot of depth notable but there are some keen separations not present on my last DVD viewing. There are subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Sony use a 24-bit 5.1 DTS-HD Master track, less robust than the 2011 US audio transfer and it is marginally more passive. Effects are exported with some separation and it's another great score by Jerry Goldsmith (The Salamander, The Mephisto Waltz, Seconds, Hoosiers, The Blue Max, Breakheart Pass, The Omen) which accentuates the film's claustrophobic moods - sounding tense, desperate and contemplative in the lossless. Sony add an optional German DUB )mono) add optional English, and other, subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray.
Aside from the impressive 34-page Digibook packaging - filled with photos and essays - there is nothing new beyond the last SD release - meaning a 12-minute The Magnificent Rebel featurette focusing on author Charriere with behind the scenes sequences. The writer was there for the filming of Papillon but sadly died of lung cancer before it premiered. There is also a long theatrical trailer - like the first piece only in 480i. A reported 'troubled' shoot so maybe few wish to recall it via interviews etc.
The same 12-minute The Magnificent Rebel featurette focusing on author Charriere with behind the scenes sequences plus a trailer - nothing new and no commentary.
Warner (US- 2011) - Region FREE' - Blu-ray
Sony (UK - 2018) - Region FREE - Blu-ray
The US Sony release seems strangely out-of-print but Warner Archive released it in September 2018 HERE and the new, Region FREE, Sony Blu-ray has a superior video transfer but no Digibook packaging although it adds some European subtitle (and a German DUB) option. Another positive is that is it very reasonably priced at present. Unforgettable film - must own for your digital library.
May 19th, 2011
January 24th, 2019
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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