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2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

directed by Val Guest
UK 19
61

When the USA and Russia simultaneously test atomic bombs, the earth is knocked off its axis and set on a collision course with the sun. As the planet inexorably heats up and society slowly breaks down, Peter Stenning (Edward Judd), a washed-up Daily Express reporter, breaks the story and sets about investigating the government cover-up.

Made at a time when the nuclear threat of the Cold War loomed large, The Day the Earth Caught Fire is an expertly crafted sci-fi film that boasts a BAFTA winning screenplay, gritty characters and a vision of end-of-days London that really burns. Also starring Leo McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey) and Janet Munro, and directed by veteran filmmaker Val Guest (The Quatermass Xperiment).

***

Val Guest writes and directs this sci-fi drama. After global nuclear testing knocks the world off its axis, temperatures begin to rise rapidly as the planet is sent careering towards the sun. In London the heat is causing the Thames to dry up as baffled Daily Express reporter Peter Stenning (Edward Judd), his colleague Bill Maguire (Leo McKern), and his girlfriend Jeanne Craig (Janet Munro), resolve to get to the bottom of the matter. After battling the Government for the truth, they are shocked to discover the fate of their planet and must search for a solution before it's too late.   

Posters

Theatrical Premiere:  May 27th, 1962

 

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Comparison:

Network -  Region 0 - PAL vs. BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - LEFT

2) BFI  - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - RIGHT

Box Covers

   

 

Distribution Network - Region 0 - PAL BFI
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Runtime 1:32:44 (4% PAL speedup)  1:39:15.000
Video 2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.80 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 
1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray
Disc Size: 48,883,618,372 bytes
Feature: 29,259,724,032 bytes
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Total Video Bitrate: 34.94 Mbps

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0)

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps)

Subtitles None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Network

 

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
None

DVD Release Date: September 28th, 2009
Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 12

Release Information:
Studio: BFI

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray
Disc Size: 48,883,618,372 bytes
Feature: 29,259,724,032 bytes
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
Total Video Bitrate: 34.94 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
Hot Off the Press: Revisiting the Day the Earth Caught Fire (John Kelly, 2014, 33:21): a newly filmed documentary
Audio commentary with Val Guest and Ted Newsom
An Interview with Leo McKern (Paul Venezis, 2001, 8:56)
The Day the Earth Caught Fire: An Audio Appreciation by Graeme Hobbs (8:45)
Original trailer (2:38), 4 TV spots (1:56) and 4 Radio spots (2:19)
Stills and Collections Gallery (6:52)
The Guardian Lecture: Val Guest and Yolande Dolan interviewed by David Meeker (1998, 1:02:20)
The H-bomb (David Villiers, 1956, 21:15): civil defence information film demonstrating the damage that might be expected from a ten megaton bomb
Operation Hurricane (Ronald Stark, 1952, 33:03) a documentary exploring the work involved in, and the research behind Britain's first atomic bomb tests
The Hole in the Ground (David Cobham, 1962, 29:46): a dramatization of a nuclear attack demonstrating the operation of Britain's warning system for atomic war
Think Bike (1978, :49): road safety film with Edward Judd
Fully illustrated booklet with extensive credits and newly commissioned essays from John Oliver and Marcus Hearn

Blu-ray Release Date: November 17th, 2014
Standard Blu-ray Case

Chapters 12

Comments:

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

ADDITION: BFI Blu-ray - October 14': Firstly, this is described as "Newly remastered by the BFI National Archive and available on Blu-ray for the very first time, this is the definitive version of the classic British science fiction thriller." and starts with this screen:

So this is a brand new 4K transfer by the BFI National Archive and looks pretty sweet. The most notable difference from the older SD is the reddish-orange-ness of the DVD compared to the burnt-yellow of the new 1080P transfer (even in the 'Censor's Certification' screen - see below). This is a tint as the opening and ending were shot in black and white and later tinted with the restorers finding the original gels. The HD, must surely be more authentic to the theatrical, and advances in most visual areas - looking tighter, showing more depth with a crisper appearance with more layered contrast. It appears to show a shade more information in the frame - at the top - than the single-layered, PAL sped-up, DVD from 2009. The restoration has produced a very clean image, dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate, that looks far superior in-motion than previous digital offerings.

The audio is transferred via a linear PCM 1.0 channel, flat, mono track at 1152 kbps.  Benefiting is Stanley Black's (1960's Hammer film Stop Me Before I Kill! ) - often intense score balanced nicely between resigned emptiness and catastrophic drama. The brief Beatnik music was composed by Monty Norman! There are optional English (SDH) subtitles, in a white font, and the BFI Blu-ray disc is Region 'B'-locked.

Extras are never-ending with an older audio commentary with Val Guest and Ted Newsom. Guest states that he had not seen the film for a long time and Newsome does a great job of bringing out the director/writer/producer's recollections including specific dissolves, Les Bowie's 'Matte + Process shots', and other tracking shots. Val Guest passed away in 2006 - and I am unsure when this commentary was recorded but it was on the US DVD from around 2000. It is well-worth listening to, IMO. Hot Off the Press: Revisiting the Day the Earth Caught Fire is a 2014 documentary by John Kelly, running over 1/2 hour and detailing some of the journalistic angles to the film and some important information about the political climate at the time of production with many, fascinating, and salient details. There is a 2001 interview with Leo McKern by Paul Venezis, running 9-minutes with his recollections of The Day the Earth Caught Fire. There is also a 9-minute audio-only appreciation by Graeme Hobbs (reviewer with MovieMail.) The lengthiest extras is the hour-long The Guardian Lecture: Val Guest and Yolande Dolan interviewed by David Meeker from 1998. There is an original trailer (2:38), 4 TV spots (1:56) and 4 Radio spots (2:19) plus a stills and collections gallery - in a slideshow lasting almost 7-minutes. There are more supplements; The H-bomb is a 1956 civil defence information film by David Villiers, demonstrating the damage that might be expected from a ten megaton bomb - and running 20-minutes. Operation Hurricane is a 1/2 hour documentary from 1952 exploring the work involved in, and the research behind Britain's first atomic bomb tests, The Hole in the Ground also runs 30-minutes. It is from1962 by David Cobham and is a dramatization of a nuclear attack demonstrating the operation of Britain's warning system for atomic war and lastly is a 49-second road safety film with Edward Judd entitled Think Bike. The package contains a fully illustrated booklet with extensive credits and newly commissioned essays from John Oliver and Marcus Hearn

The Day the Earth Caught Fire is, by no means, a typical science-fiction film. It deals more with the emotional atmosphere of a potential-apocalypse - rather than the nuts and bolts, effect-based, details (although they are broached). There is incredible atmosphere here and an almost addictive film. It's fabulous to see the BFI bring this, restored, to Blu-ray in such a complete and wonderful package. Our highest recommendation!   

Gary W. Tooze


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1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

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1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


 

1) Network - Region 0 - PAL - TOP

2) BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 


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Distribution

Network - Region 0 - PAL

BFI
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray

 

 



 

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Gary Tooze

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