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Silent Running [Blu-ray]
(Douglas Trumbull, 1972)
Review by Gary Tooze
Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #23 / Universal Pictures
Region: 'B'-locked/ Region FREE (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 1:29:36.913/ 1:29:37.789
Disc Size: 29,817,238,947 bytes/ 30,436,611,222 bytes
Feature Size: 23,724,939,264 bytes / 24,513,939,456 bytes
Video Bitrate: 31.30 Mbps / 31.99 Mbps
Chapters: 13 / 20
Case: Standard Blu-ray case (both)
Release date: November 14th, 2011 / April 7th, 2015
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 694 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 694 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 645 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 645 kbps
/ 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 679 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 679 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 512 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1824 kbps
2.0 / 48 kHz / 1824 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz /
1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -4dB
English (SDH), none
• Full-length commentary by director Trumbull and actor Bruce
• Full-length commentary by director Trumbull and actor Bruce Dern
• The Making of Silent Running (49:16 in 480i)
• Silent Running by Douglas Trumbull (30:09 in 480i)
• A Conversation with Bruce Dern, a discussion with the actor (10:56 in 480i)
• Douglas Trumbull: Then and Now (4:52 in 480i)
• Original theatrical trailer (2:59 in 480i)
Description: Three years after helping to achieve some of
the most amazing imagery in cinema history with
2001: A Space Odyssey, special effects maestro Douglas Trumbull
made an auspicious directorial debut at age 29 with the
environmentally themed science fiction classic Silent
The movie's themes of environmental concern and rebellion against wrongheaded authority fit very well with the time it was released (enhanced by Joan Baez's folksy soundtrack). The story is set in the year 2008, when Earth's natural environment has been destroyed. All that remains are samples of forests and waterlands preserved in space-station greenhouses orbiting Saturn until the day our planet is able to support plants and animals again. Freeman Lowell is one of the guardians of these microcosmic environments, and when official word comes that the project is too expensive to be carried on - in fact, Earthlings now seem content with their totally man-made surroundings - he quickly hatches a plan to avert orders to destroy the pod carrying his most beloved forest site. He kills his three colleagues and heads deeper into space, radioing home that an explosion has disabled his spacecraft and sent it on a trajectory where he may never be found again. Alone somewhere inside the rings of Saturn, he forms a relationship with his remaining "drone" robots, teaching them about the abundant life in their care. When a craft from home approaches to "rescue" him, he must take one last drastic step and make an even greater sacrifice to save the land in his care.
The director is Douglas Trumbull, a Canadian who designed many of the
special effects for Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey."
Trumbull also did the computers and the underground laboratory for "The
Andromeda Strain," and is one of the best science-fiction
special-effects men. "Silent Running," which has deep space
effects every bit the equal of those in "2001," also introduces him as
an intelligent, if not sensational, director.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Silent Running appears true to the source on Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema arm of Eureka Cinema in the UK. The image quality shows a fine layer of grain and colors are bright - bordering on vibrant. The enclosed booklet in the package states "Further restoration work was completed at Deluxe 142, London. Picture issues, such as dirt, light scratches, and debris as well as warped, damaged, or unstable frames were removed or improved upon using a combination of HD-DVNR, Phoenix, and MTI systems.". It is neither glossy nor pristinely sharp but shows some depth and I would guess the 1.85:1 aspect ratio 1080P transfer is a strong replication of the theatrical appearance some 40-years hence. This Blu-ray has a nice realistic feel with a reasonable film-like sense to it. Visually this gets high marks.
Firstly, with the timeline feature on the Universal disc (during pause) I had trouble obtaining exact frame matches but our attempts below should give you a good idea of the differences. The new Universal has warmer, and richer, colors. It is equally as technically robust as the Masters of Cinema. It looks very pleasing appearing newer with the deeper tones but I have no idea of how accurate it is to the theatrical roots.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Masters of Cinema offer an uncompressed DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel stereo track with minimal depth but the film doesn't require an abundance of floor rattling. There is also the ability to listen to the Isolated music and effects separately at about the same HD quality as the feature's lossless track. There are some audio effects but they are mostly passive - and not bass-dependant. It sounds pretty clean and crisp to me - this is certainly evident by accessing the isolated score which, by the way the music was composed by Peter Schickele, also known in other circles as 'P.D.Q. Bach'. The classically-rooted music is both haunting and exports a sense of isolation. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.
The Universal also is also DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel but slightly more robust although I can't say I heard any superiority in my viewing. The new US disc adds a French DUB option, also has optional English subtitles but is region FREE - playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.
Included is the previously-heard relaxed commentary from 2000 with director Trumbull and actor Bruce Dern. The production information imparted is very good and it's nice to hear them both talk about the film. We get Charles Barbee's 50-minute Making of Silent Running documentary, filmed in 1972 on-set. It showcases more on technical effects details including the three robot drones - efficiently named Drone 1, Drone 2, and Drone 3, reprogrammed by Dern's character, Freeman Lowell, to respond to Huey, Dewey, and Louie. There are further - two video pieces with Douglas Trumbull running about 35-minutes in total plus a 10-minute conversation with Bruce Dern on his reminiscences of Silent Running. Lastly are an original theatrical trailer (2:57 in 480i) and a lavish 48-page full-colour booklet included in the case featuring rare photographs and artwork from Trumbull’s personal collection, and recollections of the film’s cinematographer, special designs coordinator, and composer. Excellent!
The Universal offers the same video extras (all in 480i) and Trumbull/Dern commentary as the UK package but we don't get the isolated score or the wonderful MoC liner notes booklet.
This film still resonates with me and it was nice to see it with richer, deeper colors. I don't recommend double dipping if you already own the MoC, but it's a great package at a reasonable price for those that don't have Silent Running in 1080P. Recommended!
October 13th, 2011
March 31st, 2015
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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