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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r


H D - S E N S E I

A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Blue Sky [Blu-ray]


(Tony Richardson, 1994)





Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Orion Pictures

Video: Olive Films / BFI



Region: 'A' / 'B'

Runtime: 1:41:09.063 / 1:41:15.194  

Disc Size: 23,148,468,883 bytes / 48,787,176,697 bytes

Feature Size: 23,099,947,008 bytes / 35,314,025,856 bytes

Video Bitrate: 26.99 Mbps / 37.65 Mbps

Chapters: 8 / 5

Case: Standard Blu-ray case (both)

Release date: April 21st, 2015 / January 25th, 2021



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 / 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps (both)

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video (both)



DTS-HD Master Audio English 1865 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1865 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)


* LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
* DTS-HD Master Audio English 3852 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3852 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

Dolby Digital Audio English 320 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 320 kbps / DN -31dB



None / English (SDH), none



• None


Newly recorded audio commentary by film critic Nick Pinkerton
Operation Hurricane (1952, 33:13 mins): after the first Soviet nuclear weapon was detonated in 1949, the British accelerated their development of their own nuclear deterrent. This haunting film documents the first bomb test on the Monte Bello Islands
Atoms at Work (1952, 10:40 mins): a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the Harwell atomic research establishment and the potential benefits of radioactivity
Original theatrical trailer (02:03)
Image gallery (04:35)
**FIRST PRESSING ONLY** Fully illustrated booklet with a new essay on the film by Jim Hemphill, biographies of Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange and full film credits




1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

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



Description: Blue Sky was the last film directed by Tony Richardson (Tom Jones) before his death in 1991 and one of the last releases from once-thriving Orion Films, whose bankruptcy kept the picture on the shelf for several years. It also features two career-high performances by Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange, who won the Best Actress Oscar for this role, as Hank and Carly Marshall, a military couple whose marriage unravels under the pressure of his job and her mental instability. Hank is an Army captain at odds with his superiors over the wisdom of nuclear testing. Carly is a free spirit spiralling into a dangerous depression after the family's move from Hawaii to a nowhere base in Alabama alarms the couple's older daughter (Amy Locane) and sends Carly into an affair with the base commander (Powers Boothe)



The Film:

Set in the early 60s and based on co-scripter Rama Laurie Stagner's childhood experiences, it's a messy but satisfying examination of a mysterious love. Carly (Jessica Lange), an effusive Southern belle, and her husband Hank (Tommy Lee Jones), an Army scientist working on nuclear testing, move from one military base to another with their daughters (Amy Locane and Anna Klemp).

Hank is a methodical and sensible man; he has to be, because Carly is a bit nuts. There's a suggestion of abuse in her past, and the rootlessness and conformity of being a military wife also play substantial roles in unhinging her. Carly doesn't mean to hurt Hank, but she just can't help acting up and embarrassing him.

Excerpt from Rob Gonsalves at eCritic located HERE

Hank (Jones) is besotted with his sexy, manic-depressive wife Carly (Oscar-winner Lange) to the extent that their daughters (Locane and Klemp) more or less raise themselves. He's an Army scientist researching levels of radiation after '60s nuclear tests in the desert, and official pressure on him to massage his readings gets heavier after a pair of cowboys stray into the fall-out. But the real drama here is his marriage, neatly delineated by Carly sashaying about like Marilyn on Jones Beach, half-naked under a gauze scarf, and later breaking down in public as she sees their sordid quarters on camp. She's infantile, a fantasist dreaming of Hollywood, and easy prey for the horny commanding officer (Boothe). In this portrait of a complex, painful, dependent relationship, the two leads deliver their blazing best, helped by an intelligent, unsparing script.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE


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

Blue Sky has a, predictably, modest Blu-ray transfer from Olive Films. It is single-layered with a fairly high bitrate for the 1 3/4 hour film. It a shade think in the opening but settles to be quite stable with pleasing visuals. Colors are strong and there is decent detail in close-ups. I also see some textures. In short - it is almost exactly what you might expect. Solid but nothing is exceptional. It's probably the best way you are going to see this film, digitally, in your home theater.


BFI have transferred Tony Richardson's "Blue Sky'' on an all new Region 'B' Blu-ray. This dual-layered Blu-ray disc features the film accompanied by a fully maxed-out bitrate. The 1.85:1 1080p image shows slightly more than the previous Olive disc. Throughout the picture's running time there is a tiny (and I mean tiny) vertical green band running the length of the left side of the frame. The level of detail seems to be very similar to the Olive disc, with a better looking grain. Colors also look more lifelike, with faces showing more rosy (flushed) hues, as opposed to a more uniform yellow/orange in the Olive Blu-ray. The BFI Blu-ray also has a more varied contrast, with darker shots improving. That being said, some information is now lost in darkness, though I suppose the Olive disc could have been slightly too bright (an example of this would be in the shot below featuring a young Chris O'Donnell, look closely at the bottom of the frame, just to the right of his shirt and you'll notice some plant details now disappear in the shadowy blacks).  




Subtitle Sample - BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray



1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

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



1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

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



1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

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



1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

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



1) Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray TOP

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



More full resolution (1920 X 1080) Blu-ray Captures for DVDBeaver Patreon Supporters HERE




Audio :

Lossless stereo - DTS-HD Master at 1865 kbps. Only minor aggression outside of Lange's temper-tantrums. The score by Jack Nitzsche (The Crossing Guard, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Personal Best, 9 1/2 Weeks) can sound oddly deep at times but benefits from the uncompressed transfer. Etta James' Something's Got A Hold On Me sounds fabulous. There are no subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'A'-locked.


BFI's new Blu-ray of "Blue Sky" features two audio choices; a 2.0 linear PCM or a 5.1 DTS-HD Master audio (both are 24-bit). We no longer have the Olive Blu-ray disc available for comparison at the office, but I feel like it's safe to assume that this linear PCM track is an improvement, however so slightly. The 5.1 track is a good option for those with the proper surround set-up in their homes. While the bombastic noises do make a rare appearance, the sound profile is more low-key most of the time. Thankfully this Region 'B' Blu-ray from BFI has optional subtitles for the hard-of-hearing.



Extras :

No supplements - not even a trailer which is the bare-bones route that Olive are going with most of their releases.


BFI includes an all-new audio commentary by film critic Nick Pinkerton. As always, Pinkerton provides a wealth of knowledge, discussing everything from the film and filmmakers to the very real events and people that inspired the story (mostly culled from the life of Cptn. Clyde H. Stagner). As a very special bonus, BFI has included two vintage films dealing with bomb testing and atomic research. First up is the 33-minute "Operation Hurricane'' (1952) documenting the first bomb test on the Monte Bello Islands. Next is the 1952 "Atoms at Work'', a look into the Harwell atomic research establishment and the potential benefits of radioactivity. The film's theatrical trailer rounds out this BFI Blu-ray. Note, we only received a screener disc, but there is also a fully illustrated booklet with a new essay on the film by Jim Hemphill, biographies of Tommy Lee Jones and Jessica Lange and full film credits.


Olive - Region 'A' - Blu-ray



BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray



Interesting film and strong performance from Jessica Lange. I enjoyed the link between Lange's volatile character, the couple's desperate relationship and the nuclear exposure cover-up and I think it's a good film with a very dark edge. The Blu-ray is typical from Olive - bare-bones but well-transferred without negative digitization issues. I was thankful to see Blue Sky - and suspect others might be as appreciative. 


BFI's Blu-ray of "Blue Sky" is a definite upgrade over the older Olive disc. Tony Richardson's ("Tom Jones", "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner", "A Taste of Honey") 1994 swan song benefits from an uptick in contrast, color, sound, extras, and includes the subtitles that the Olive was so sorely lacking. A fantastic release for those interested. And what a cast! (Tommy Lee Jones, Jessica Lange, Powers Boothe, Carrie Snodgress, and a young Chris O'Donnell.)

Gary Tooze

April 9th, 2015

Colin Zavitz

May 11th, 2021




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.

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