|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
Journey to the Center of the Earth [Blu-ray]
(Henry Levin, 1959)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Video:Shock Entertainment (Australia) vs. Twilight Time (2nd release) vs. Eureka (UK)
Region: FREE/ Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Runtime: 2:09:28.427/ 2:09:28.927 / 2:09:30.804
Disc Size: 40,747,428,801 bytes / 37,761,813,860 bytes/ 49,213,050,795 bytes
Feature Size: 39,568,926,720 bytes / 37,538,254,848 bytes/ 43,916,406,912 bytes
Video Bitrate: 33.98 Mbps / 29.99 Mbps/ 35.37 Mbps
Chapters: 12 / 24/ 12
Case: Standard Blu-ray cases / Transparent Blu-ray cass
Release date: July 24th, 2012 / March 2015/ September 18th, 2017
Video (all three):
Aspect ratio: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
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)
DTS-HD Master Audio 1991 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1991 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2504 kbps
5.1 / 48 kHz / 2504 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz /
768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1395 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1395
kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 24-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1075 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1075 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio English 2815 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2815
kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps /
Dolby Digital Audio English 640 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 640 kbps
English (SDH), none / English (SDH), none
• Trailer (3:41)
Audio Commentary with Actress Diane
Baker, and Film Historians Steven C. Smith & Nick Redman
8-page liner notes by Julie Kirgo
•Audio Commentary with Actress Diane Baker and Film Historians Steven C. Smith & Nick Redman
• New video interview with critic and author Kim Newman (22:06)
• Featurette on the film s restoration (3:45)
• Original theatrical trailer (3:21)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an original review of the film from 1959; a poster gallery; and a selection of rare archival imagery
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.
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
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.
Well, a big difference in the appearance of the 2 Blu-rays. You can really see the 'Cinemascope mumps' on the Shock BD now and it is very cropped. The Twilight Time 4K restoration is far superior looking a shade glossy in their second release of this title. It is very crisp with excellent contrast.
The Eureka (UK) 1080P is very much like the Twilight Time - 4k-retored, dual-layered, but an even higher bitrate and I'm giving it the edge in image quality with slightly warmer flesh tones and overall richer colors. It's the best of the three nudging ahead of the US transfer - notable in-motion.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
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.
Where Shock went with the original 4.0 channel, Twilight Time bump to 5.1 and the separations are even more adroit. The US edition uses a similar DTS-HD Master - at a similar 2305 kbps. The Bernard Herrmann score with harp and orchestrations sounds marvelous via the lossless. Twilight Time also include a 2.0 channel stereo as well as their usual isolated score. On the US Blu-ray there are optional English (SDH) subtitles - and their disc is also region FREE.
I can't distinguish any difference between the Twilight Time and the Eureka surround, DTS-HD Master, tracks but the UK 2.0 channel is linear PCM and handles the higher end a bit tighter. The Herrmann score is wonderful and the Eureka audio is impressive and is, likewise, included as an isolated option (LPCM). It also offers optional English (SDH) subtitles but the disc is Region 'B'-coded.
Only an 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.
Very cool to have the audio commentary with actress Diane Baker, and film historians Steven C. Smith & Nick Redman as an option. Twilight Time have the aforementioned isolated score and effects track and an original theatrical trailer plus their usual 8-page liner notes by Julie Kirgo and it is limited again to 3,000 copies.
Eureka include the same audio commentary with Diane Baker, Steven C. Smith & Nick Redman but add a new, 22-minute, video interview with critic and author Kim Newman about Journey to the Centre of the Earth as well as a short, split-screen, featurette on the film s' restoration. There is a theatrical trailer and the package even has a liner notes booklet featuring an original review of the film from 1959; a poster gallery; and a selection of rare archival imagery.
With this new, second, 4K restoration, Journey to the Center of the Earth Blu-ray available via Twilight Time, methinks it best to pick it up soon as it will no doubt go the OOP route of the first edition especially seeing how superior it is over the Shock Blu-ray release. Strongly recommended!
Well, fairly obvious - the Shock Entertainment release is a dud, the Twilight Time out of print and the 4K-restored Eureka is the best with the marginally superior a/v and the new extras and booklet. I must have seen this film a dozen time and still enjoy it every time - the Herrmann score settles the fantasy mood right into place. An integral part of our 50's + 60s science fiction listing page! For fans - a must own!
May 27th, 2014
March 27th, 2015
September 18th, 2017
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.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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