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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Julius Caesar [Blu-ray]

 

(Stuart Burge, 1970)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Commonwealth United Entertainment

Video: Olive Films

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 1:56:13.967

Disc Size: 22,006,342,563 bytes

Feature Size: 21,925,865,472 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.00 Mbps

Chapters: 8

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: February 19th, 2013

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 897 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 897 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

• None

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: This 1970 adaptation of William Shakespeare's timeless classic features brilliant performances by the all-star cast. It is an age of unparalleled power and glory - Rome has become the mightiest empire the world has even known and her greatest emperor, Julius Caesar (John Gielgud) holds absolute dominion over the conquered world. But his jealous rivals in the Roman senate wish to rob him of his power. by brutally taking his life. Led by the ambitious Cassius (Richard Johnson) and reluctantly joined by the patriotic Brutus (Jason Robards), the conspirators secretly plot to assassinate the great Caesar. Appalled by the murder of his mentor, Mark Antony (Charlton Heston) declares war on Caesar's assassins and the empire is divided as the ruling forces ignite an epic war for honor, vengeance and ultimate power. The stellar cast includes Robert Vaughn, Richard Chamberlain, Diana Rigg, Christopher Lee and Jill Bennett. Stylishly directed by Stuart Burge (Laurence Olivier's Othello).

 

 

The Film:

Except for the omission of several passages in the original play, this 1970 adaptation of Julius Caesar faithfully retells Shakespeare's account of events surrounding the assassination of Caesar in 44 B.C. The film begins when Caesar John Gielgud is at the height of his power after conquering Pompey "the Great" in a civil war. Important senators worry that Caesar means to become king, diminish their power, and abolish their beloved Roman republic. Two senators, Cassius Richard Johnson and Brutus Jason Robards, hatch an assassination plot involving other disenchanted Roman citizens. Although a soothsayer warns Caesar of trouble ("Beware the ides of March") and his own wife reports ominous signs ("A lioness hath whelped in the streets; and graves have yawn'd, and yielded up their dead"), Caesar decides to go to the senate on the ides (March 15). Upon arrival, the conspirators greet him with daggers. In his funeral oration, Mark Antony Charlton Heston extols Caesar and incites the citizens against Brutus and the other conspirators. Brutus and Cassius flee Rome with their armies, but Antony and two other sympathizers track them down with their armies. When the tide turns against the conspirators, Brutus and Cassius commit suicide. As does Shakespeare's play, the film leaves the discerning viewer wondering who was the real villain -- Caesar, because of his ambition for power, or Brutus, because of his underhanded plot to maintain the status quo.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

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

The 1970 Julius Caesar comes to Blu-ray from Olive Films. It has quite an unusual initial appearance. This has elements of video and Kinescope-type artefacts, but admittedly looks superior in-motion than the static screen captures. I have no idea what this looked like originally and doubt it is a digitization issue.  If you zoom in enough you can identify some very minor edge-enhancement halos but, as we have seen in the past, this may be present on the source used. I really don't know - Olive Films doesn't go in for manipulation so this may be a registry misalignment. Characters do tend to look like cardboard cut-outs in the first 20-minutes and there is no depth until later and the visuals improve as the film runs along. The Blu-ray has noise in the darker (catacomb) sequence but I wouldn't say it was fatal. Perhaps someone can communicated with me who saw this theatrically and can compare to this 1080P presentation.

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio is transferred in an authentic DTS-HD Master mono track at a lowly 897 kbps. It, predictably, sounds flat... but clear. The original music is by Michael J. Lewis (11 Harrowhouse) and is exported with a bit of crispness but little depth.  There are no subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.

 

Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with their releases.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
What a cast! - Heston, Robards, Gielgud, Robert Vaughn, Diana Rigg, Christopher Lee etc. But something here doesn't gel in perfect sync. I think the performances are the best attribute of the 1970 Julius Caesar  - and, of course, the Shakespearean narrative is always powerful. The Blu-ray is not to blame for the odd appearance and offers the film in its best digital presentation source. Admittedly it distracted me in the beginning before I settled-in and started to appreciate the characterizations. I can see many fans curious enough to indulge in this rendition. At times it is mesmerizing despite the apparent visual faux-pas.  

Gary Tooze

February 20th, 2013

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 5000 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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