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Armored Attack and The North Star [Blu-ray]
(Lewis Milestone, 1943)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: RKO Radio Pictures
Region: FREE (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 40,089,295,069 bytes
Feature Size: 14,881,376,256 bytes
Video Bitrate: 23.89 Mbps
The North Star:
Disc Size: 40,089,295,069 bytes
Feature Size: 23,114,532,864 bytes
Video Bitrate: 26.62 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: July 15th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 851 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 851 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 1.0 / 48 kHz / 768 kbps / 16-bit)
• Radio Adaptation (29:43)
Description: In a peaceful Ukrainian village, the school year is just ending in June 1941. Five young friends set out for a walking trip to Kiev, but their travels are brutally interrupted when they are suddenly attacked by German planes, in the first wave of the Nazi assault on the Soviet Union. When the village itself is attacked and occupied, most of the men flee to the hills to form a guerrilla unit. The others resist the Nazis as well as possible, but soon the village is placed under the command of a Nazi doctor who begins using the town's children as a source of constant blood transfusions for wounded German soldiers. Meanwhile, the small group of young persons tries desperately to take a supply of firearms to the guerrillas.
When the school year ends, five friends from a small Ukrainian village decide to travel to Kiev. Their trip is cut short when German aircraft attack and their town falls under occupation. While many escape to the hills to form an anti-Nazi resistance group, a German doctor, Dr. Otto Von Harden (Erich von Stroheim), begins to use the children for medical experiments and as sources of blood transfusions for wounded German soldiers. Directed by Lewis Milestone (All Quiet on the Western Front), this story of valiant resistance stars Dana Andrews (Laura), Anne Baxter (All About Eve), and Walter Huston (The Treasure of Sierra Madre) as the Russian doctor who discovers the nefarious German plot. In 1943,The North Star was nominated for six Academy Awards.
Heroic Russian villagers fight off Nazi invaders in this hokey pro-Soviet flag-waver, which was later to embarrass the Goldwyn studio and just about everybody who'd worked on it, when McCarthy's commie-hunting investigators started prying. Lillian Hellman adapted the dire screenplay from her own book - and, yes, that is Walter Brennan as a Russky.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
A screenplay by Lillian Hellman and an all-star cast including Dana
Andrews, Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Erich von Stroheim
and Farley Granger (in his film debut) highlight Lewis Milestone's
controversial 1943 World War II drama The North Star. The film
focuses on the people of a happy Soviet farming collective in 1941 whose
lives are shattered following a violent invasion by the Germans.
Condemned by many as blatant Communist propaganda to help rally support
for the alliance between the United States and Russia at the time, The
North Star is a fascinating blend of politics and melodrama.
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Firstly, this Olive Blu-ray has two editions of the film. The North Star (1943) was re-released in the midst of the Cold War as Armored Attack! (1957.) The original references to the allied Russian military were excised and an overtly anti-Communist narration track was added. This disc includes the original theatrical cut, The North Star, which runs 30 minutes longer and preserves Milestone’s initial version of the film before these politically-motivated changes were made. So, it is dual-layered with quality about the same for the two versions (the longer The North Star may actually be marginally better with a bit higher bitrate.) It looks typical for Olive - the 1080P exports some impressive contrast but there are occasional marks and speckles. Detail is decent although there is only modest depth but there is some pleasing grain textures. The Blu-ray provides a solid presentation for both versions.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio comes in the form of a DTS-HD Master - authentic mono track for both features. Effects include planes and bombing raids, but the biggest beneficiary may be the score by Aaron Copland (The Red Pony, The Heiress) with pieces like 'Song of the Fatherland' and 'Song of the Guerrillas' - all with lyrics by Ira Gershwin. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being Region FREE - playable on Blu-ray player worldwide.
aside from the inclusion of The North Star (under the 'Bonus Materials' menu) there is also a half hour Radio Adaptation broadcast January 1944 - it has Walter Huston, Anne Baxter, Farley Granger and Jane Withers reprising their roles from the film.
July 10th, 2014
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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