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On the Beach [Blu-ray]
(Stanley Kramer, 1959)
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Stanley Kramer Productions
Video: Kino Lorber
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 22,744,805,045 bytes
Feature Size: 22,009,436,160 bytes
Video Bitrate: 18.99 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 26th, 2014
Aspect ratio: 1.66:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 1594 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1594 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
• Trailer (4:47)
Description: The war is over. Nobody won. Only the inhabitants of Australia and the men of the U.S, submarine Sawfish have escaped the nuclear destruction and radiation. Captain Dwight Towers (Gregory Peck) takes the Sawfish on a mission to see if an approaching radiation cloud has weakened, but returns with grim news: the cloud is lethal. With the days and hours dwindling, each person confronts the grim situation in his or her own way. One (Fred Astaire) realizes a lifetime Grand Prix ambition; another (Ava Gardner) reaches out for a chance at love. The final chapter of human history is coming to a close... From acclaimed director Stanley Kramer (Judgment at Nuremberg) and screenwriter John Paxton (Crossfire), comes this spectacular movie landmark - a film masterpiece with a message that will resonate as long as the world has the power to self-destruct at its own fingertips. Co-starring Anthony Perkins and Donna Anderson.
Although there'd been "doomsday dramas" before it, Stanley Kramer's On the Beach was considered the first "important" entry in this genre when originally released in 1959. Based on the novel by Nevil Shute, the film is set in the future (1964) when virtually all life on earth has been exterminated by the radioactive residue of a nuclear holocaust. Only Australia has been spared, but it's only a matter of time before everyone Down Under also succumbs to radiation poisoning. With only a short time left on earth, the Australian population reacts in different ways: some go on a nonstop binge of revelry, while others eagerly consume the suicide pills being issued by the government. When the possibility arises that rains have washed the atmosphere clean in the Northern hemisphere, a submarine commander (Gregory Peck) and his men head to San Diego, where faint radio signals have been emanating. The movie's all-star cast includes: Peck as the stalwart sub captain, Ava Gardner as his emotionally disturbed lover, Fred Astaire as a guilt-wracked nuclear scientist, and Anthony Perkins and Donna Anderson as the "just starting out in life" married couple.
Based on Nevil Shute's popular novel, this flawed but moving end-of-the-world drama is set in Australia in 1964, after nuclear war has eliminated life in the northern hemisphere. While the folks down under await the nuclear fallout that will eventually kill them, the US Sawfish, a submarine commanded by Dwight Towers (Gregory Peck), ventures to California, only to learn that the radio signal still being transmitted from San Diego is being produced by a soda bottle--everyone at home is dead (dramatically reinforced by some extraordinary shots of a deserted San Francisco). Back in Australia, the principal characters deal with their imminent deaths in their own...Excerpt from TV Guide located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
On the Beach has made it to Blu-ray from the Kino-Lorber label. The black and white image is transferred at 1.66:1 and looks quite clean. The 2 1/4 hour film is on a single-layered disc with a modest bitrate. There is a thickness to the visuals. The higher resolution adds pleasing layers to the contrast. There is minor depth and impressive detail in close-ups. Giuseppe Rotunno's (The Leopard, Rocco and His Brothers, Le Notti Bianche) cinematography has some infrequent, and curious, obtuse angles and plenty of shadow play. This Blu-ray seems to do a decent job of exporting the film in 1080P despite the limited robustness.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Kino transfer the film's audio via a DTS-HD Master stereo track at 1594 kbps. It's a pretty somber affair without much in the way of aggressive effects but a solid score by Ernest Gold (Cross of Iron, It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World) and it seems to benefit from the uncompressed rendering sounding subtly impacting. There are optional English subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.
Only a trailer but, I think, the film deserves some discussion for its uniqueness alone.
August 11th, 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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