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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Salvador - Special Edition [Blu-ray]


(Oliver Stone, 1986)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Hemdale Film

Video: Koch Media



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

Runtime: 2:02:35.916

Disc Size: 24,527,472,886 bytes

Feature Size: 19,258,318,848 bytes

Video Bitrate: 16.01 Mbps

Chapters: 20

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: January 29th, 2010



Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: VC-1



DTS-HD Master Audio English 2140 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2140 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 954 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 954 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
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



German, none



• Commentary by Oliver Stone

Into the Valley of Death (1:02:53 in 576i)

Deleted Scenes (27:46 in 576i)

• German (1:59 in 576i) and English (1:54 in 576i) trailers





Description: Salvador recounts the conflict between the peasant revolution and the US-backed death squads in El Salvador in the early 1980s as seen through the eyes of American journalist Richard Boyle. Telling unpalatable truths condensed into intense fiction, Oliver Stone's film is typically confrontational, the real Boyle writing the source material for Stone's savage screenplay. The journalist is brought to life by James Woods in a brilliant hyper-kinetic performance: his powerful commitment to the truth balances his self-destructive, drink, drugs and danger-fuelled personality. Providing excellent support is James Belushi as partner in debauchery Dr Rock, while Stone delivers the most spectacular $4 million movie imaginable by conning the El Salvadorian military into lending tanks, planes and helicopters for a film which brands many of their leaders as war criminals. Genuinely radical cinema, Salvador blisters with moral fury, setting it beside The Killing Fields (1984) as a modern classic.



The Film:

James Woods gives his 'fullest, most humane, most emotional performance' (New York Magazine) to date in this 'gritty, harrowing and bold thriller' (Gannett Newspapers). It's 1980. Young men, women and children are being brutally killed in a bloody civil war in El Salvador. It's a horrific setting...but a perfect one for Richard Boyle, a sleazy war photojournalist whose career needs a jumpstart. Armed with his camera, Boyle joins the front lines in an attempt to capture atrocious-but-valuable images of pain and horror. But with each picture he takes, he catches a tragic side of humanity that ignites his long-buried compassion. And he unexpectedly discovers something that will change him forever: his soul.

Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE

But Mr. Stone has more on his mind than action. Taking his cinematic as well as political lead from the work of Constantin Costa-Gavras, he offers an interpretation of history, laying blame on conservative forces in the United States for abetting the horrors in El Salvador. It's an arguable position, but viewers who have learned from the advertisements that the movie is ''based on a true story'' will be hard put to tell whether the events on screen are actually known to have occurred in quite the way they are pictured or to have occurred at all, or whether they are the products of surmise, embellished and arranged for the sake of heightening the drama and hammering in the political point.

Excerpt from NY Times located HERE

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

Salvador doesn't shine predominantly brightly on Blu-ray from Koch Lorber out of Germany but does export some of the attributes of the format.  The single-layered 1.85:1 transfer with a modest bitrate shows depth and superior-to-SD detail. The film has a very rough-and-ready verité style with some grassroots scenes of realism, poverty and crowds. Daylight scenes are reasonably impressive but there is some noise still present in the darker sequences. This Blu-ray isn't reaching the heights of 1080P with its mediocre contrast - but a lot of this less-stellar image is the film production intent. There is no gloss nor manipulation that I can determine. It would probably benefit from dual-layering for this two-hour film but this Koch Blu-ray gave me a solid presentation.


















Audio :

The disc provides a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track at 2140 kbps in English and a less robust German stereo DUB - also lossless. There are effects that challenge the track - which exports some power in the bass while original music by Georges Delerue comes through fairly clean and supportive. Some of the more-important Spanish language dialogue is translated to English - and there are English titles for certain locations or characters but German subtitles are optional. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

The Oliver Stone commentary is here as heard on MGM's Special Edition DVD from a decade prior. Bonus is that there is an excellent Charles Kiselyak directed documentary entitled Into the Valley of Death running over an hour in PAL. It includes Oliver Stone, Belushi, Woods and the real Richard Boyle giving candid take on Salvador and the political situation behind the events. It is very worthwhile. There are also 1/2 hour's worth of deleted scenes - also in PAL and two trailers (English and German).



Once again Blu-ray gave me a further appreciation of a film that had less-impact in SD. This more impressive image ultimately draws the dramatized events closer. The included documentary is also a prime driver of that appreciation. Despite a modest image - the disc is recommended to fans of Stone's impressive and powerful Salvador and a purchase encouraged especially for those unfamiliar with the film or historical events portrayed. 

Gary Tooze

December 28th, 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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