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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Journey to the Center of the Earth [Blu-ray]

 

(Henry Levin, 1959)

 

Twilight Time's Blu-ray (also Region FREE) is Out-of-print and fetching big bucks:

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Video: Shock Entertainment (Australia)

 

Disc:

Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:09:28.427

Disc Size: 40,747,428,801 bytes

Feature Size: 39,568,926,720 bytes

Video Bitrate: 33.98 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: July 24th, 2012

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2522 kbps 4.0 / 48 kHz / 2522 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 4.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio 1991 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1991 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

 

Subtitles:

None

 

Extras:

Isolated Score
Trailer (3:41)

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: There was neither a heroine nor a villain in Jules Verne's 1864 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, but scenarist Charles Brackett evidently knew what he was doing by adding both to the 1959 film version. The picture proved to be a significant success in an otherwise disappointing year for 20th Century Fox. James Mason stars as amusingly absent-minded professor Oliver Lindenbrook, whose first step on a fabulous journey is prompted by a lump of lava brought to him by his student Alec McEwen (Pat Boone -- and, yes, he gets to sing). Melting down the curiously composed lump, Lindenbrook discovers a hastily scrawled message from long-lost explorer Arne Saknussem, with directions for reaching the earth's core. Accompanied by Carla (Arlene Dahl), widow of a famed geologist, and Icelandic guide Hans (Peter Ronson), Lindenbrook and Alec head down, down below. They are closely followed by the villainous Count Saknussem (Thayer David), descendant of the lost explorer who wrote the directions; the count hopes to use Lindenbrook's discoveries for his own personal and political gain (we know he's really bad when he eats Han's lovable pet goose). What follows is a festival of superb special effects, fabulous subterranean sets, and gigantized reptiles posing as dinosaurs, all brilliantly accompanied by Bernard Herrmann's ominous musical score. Journey to the Center of the Earth would later be adapted into a Saturday-morning cartoon series, again produced by 20th Century Fox.

 

 

The Film:

Pat Boone gives this colourful, exciting story its few nauseating moments (as when he sings 'My Heart's in the Highlands'). Otherwise it's one of the very best Hollywood adventure movies, with lots of monsters, underground oceans, sinister villains, and touches which would have delighted Jules Verne himself. James Mason as usual carries his part superbly, and there are plenty of good supporting actors like Napier and Ronson. Some of the special effects are intriguing, and believe it or not there's also quite a bit of effective sexual symbolism in typical Hollywood style, which greatly enhances the syrupy romantic subplot. Watch for the ending in which the girl is blown up on a giant funnel, with close-ups of her on her back smiling orgastically.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

The spelunkers (cave tourists) on this journey are a Scottish geologist, his prize student, the widow of a rival, an Icelandic peasant and a seeing-eye duck. And their journey into the interior (of the earth, that is) becomes a series of lurid adventures that keep them all on considerable edge.

They are chased down extremely narrow passages by massive tumbling rocks, they are caught in underground chambers by fearfully cascading floods, they run into giant meat-eating lizards in the middle of the earth and find the lost city of Atlantis some-where near the fiery molten core.

Excerpt from the NY Times located HERE

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

1959's Journey to the Center of the Earth come to Blu-ray from Twilight Time in an edition limited to 3,000 units and has since gone out-of-print.  I wish I owned it to compare to this, Region FREE, Australian Shock Entertainment Blu-ray transfer. Technically, this seems sound - dual-layered with a very high bitrate. It is also 1080P. The visuals themselves are decent but not stellar - but I recall the DVD not being very striking either. Colors show some richness and contrast is acceptable. There are some heavy textures. I see wide faces ('Cinemascope mumps'). There is a smidgeon of depth in the 2.35:1 frame.  It has a few speckles but no flagrant damage and looks very reasonable in-motion. I don't know if this Blu-ray looks exactly like the theatrical presentation, nor if it is the same or better than the Twilight Time, but the high-resolution appearance on my system was fairly strong - advancing handily beyond the old DVD.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Nice to hear that the Westrex 4-track has been maintained with an uncompressed DTS-HD Master 4.0 channel audio track for the feature at 2522 kbps. It sounds quite good with Bernard Herrmann's brooding score gaining most of the benefit. The lizard-monster guttural growls still leave something to be desired but are exported with depth. There are no optional subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as, surprisingly, being a region FREE.

 

Extras :

Only and isolated score (lossless 2.0 channel stereo) and a 3.5 minute trailer. I'd have liked more but a commentary for this long-ish film on Blu-ray might be asking too much.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
For those that missed the Twilight Time - this appears to be a viable option. As far as boyhood science-fiction adventures go - I don't put Journey to the Centre of the Earth in the same category as Mysterious Island, Jason and the Argonauts or The 7th Voyage of Sinbad but although long and taking a while to get going - it does have value. I think it would have greatly benefitted from a healthy dose of Harryhausen-ing in the special effects.  The Shock Blu-ray a/v seems competent unless I have missed something. This is quite strong. Nostalgic fans should indulge in this region FREE package while they can. 

Gary Tooze

May 27th, 2014

Twilight Time's Blu-ray is Out-of-print:


 

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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