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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

 

Directed by Jack Arnold
USA 1957

 

Existentialism goes pop in this benchmark of atomic-age science fiction, a superlative adaptation of a novel by the legendary Richard Matheson that has awed and unnerved generations of viewers with the question, What is humanity’s place amid the infinity of the universe? Six months after being exposed to a mysterious radiation cloud, suburban everyman Scott Carey (Grant Williams) finds himself becoming smaller . . . and smaller . . . and smaller—until he’s left to fend for himself in a world in which ordinary cats, mousetraps, and spiders pose a mortal threat, all while grappling with a diminishing sense of himself. Directed by the prolific creature-feature impresario Jack Arnold with ingenious optical effects and a transcendent metaphysical ending, The Incredible Shrinking Man gazes with wonder and trepidation into the unknowable vastness of the cosmic void.

***

"I was continuing to shrink, to become... what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world..."

 

When Grant Williams is subjected to a radioactive mist while on holiday with his wife, he falls ill and then starts to shrink. It's a simple premise, but the result is a masterpiece of the science-fiction genre that plays to the human emotion of the situation rather than overwhelming the audience with special effects. First his wife begins to order him around, then, as he gets inexorably smaller, the household cat becomes a savage predator, a splash of water threatens to destroy him and he fights to the death against a spider before advancing to the next stage in his strange and lonely existence. Director Arnold came to science fiction from a background of documentary-making (he later moved again, to comedies), and his sparse direction allows the tension to build naturally so that the terror and poignancy of the story work their way into the audience's brain without being forced. A total classic.

Excerpt from Channel 4 located HERE

 

  Posters

Theatrical Release: February 22nd, 1957

Reviews                                                              More Reviews                                                  DVD Reviews

 

Comparison:

Universal Pictures - Region 2,4,5 - PAL vs. Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 Box Covers

CLICK to order from:

or in the US edition  (September 2012)

Also available on Blu-ray from Arrow in the UK:

BONUS CAPTURES:

Distribution Universal Pictures - Region 2,4,5 - PAL Koch Media
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Criterion Spine #1100- Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Also available in the US in The Classic Sci-fi Ultimate Collection single edition - OR individually (September 2012):

           

or Volumes 1 + 2 combined OR individually (September 2012):

            

Runtime 1:17:27 (4% PAL Speedup) 1:20:47.843 1:21:06.528
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 7.20 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 33,182,674,130 bytes

Feature: 25,530,314,112 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.87 Mbps

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,159,216,565 bytes

Feature: 24,435,326,976 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.80 Mbps

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

Bitrate:

Bitrate: Koch Blu-ray

Bitrate: Criterion Blu-ray

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUBs: French (Dolby Digital 2.0), German (Dolby Digital 2.0), Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0), Russian (Dolby Digital 2.0)  

DTS-HD Master Audio English 1585 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1585 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

DUBs:

DTS-HD Master Audio German 1561 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1561 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
DTS-HD Master Audio German 1560 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1560 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)

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

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps / DN -31dB

Subtitles English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, None English, German, None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Universal Pictures Home Video

Aspect Ratio:
Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: February 6th, 2006

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 18

Release Information:
Studio:
Koch Media

 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 33,182,674,130 bytes

Feature: 25,530,314,112 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 34.87 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
Interview with Jack Arnold (11:52) (Eng or German)

Super 8 version (7:53 (Eng or German)
English Theatrical trailer (2:00)

Teaser (:39)
Gallery

 

Blu-ray Release Date: May 28th, 2015
Standard Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Chapters: 16

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
 

1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-l

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 48,159,216,565 bytes

Feature: 24,435,326,976 bytes

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Total Video Bitrate: 35.80 Mbps

 

Edition Details:
• New audio commentary featuring genre-film historian Tom Weaver and horror-music expert David Schecter
• New program on the film’s special effects by effects experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt (24:52)
• New conversation between filmmaker Joe Dante and comedian and writer Dana Gould (23:09)
• Auteur on the Campus: Jack Arnold at Universal (Director’s Cut) (2021) (50:14)
• Interview from 2016 with Richard Christian Matheson, novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson’s son (10:57)
• Interview with director Jack Arnold from 1983 (26:55)
• 8 mm home-cinema version from 1957 (16:24)
• Trailer (0:38) and teaser (2:04) narrated by filmmaker Orson Welles
The Lost Music of The Incredible Shrinking Man (17:13)
Suspense: Return to Dust (18:56)
• PLUS: An essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien

Blu-ray Release Date:
October 19th, 2021
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 11

 

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray (September 2021): Criterion have transferred the Jack Arnold classic The Incredible Shrinking Man to Blu-ray. It is described as being  a "New 4K digital restoration."

Firstly, we should clarify - yes, we are aware of the Arrow Blu-ray HERE produced in 2017. Despite popular misconception - we don't own every Blu-ray in the world, so we cannot add theirs in this comparison. Apologies. I understand it has a Tim Lucas commentary - so I don't have a legitimate reason not to have picked it up.

The Criterion 1080P look like a notable bump from the 2015 Koch Blu-ray. It is significantly smoother and heavier. the Koch is much dirtier and rough texture which is uneven and looks 'noisey'. The Criterion has better contrast and shows more information in the frame - usually on the side edges. I should note that up until the cat scene, about 1/2 in, the image on all digital editions is decidedly weak - very clunky, thick and soft. But after that, the Criterion especially shines improving in all visuals facets. There is some pleasing depth in the final 50-minutes.      

NOTE: We have added 50 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

Criterion, predictably, go, authentic, linear PCM mono for the audio. The Incredible Shrinking Man is modest on sound effects but there is the fair grounds, snarling cat etc. but most of the drama is from the score - uncredited - by composers Irving Gertz (Gun For a Coward, Curse of the Undead, The Leech Woman, It Came From Outer Space, Blonde Ice, Plunder Road, The Deadly Mantis), Hans J. Salter (Jungle Queen, Man Without a Star, The Killer that Stalked New York, The Strange Door, Cover Up, Man Without a Star, Scarlet Street, The Land Unknown, The War Lord, The Mole People, The Strange Case of Doctor Rx) and Herman Stein (Horizons West, Six Bridges to Cross, Son of Ali Baba, Man in the Shadow, Female on the Beach, This Island Earth, It Came From Outer Space, War Arrow, Tarantula, There's Always Tomorrow) and in the commentary David Schecter of Monstrous Movie Music tells us about the theme (a trumpet solo by Ray Anthony) and the awkwardness of "The Girl in a Lonely Room" (written by Foster Carling and Earl E. Lawrence.) The film's audio is authentically flat, clean and clear via the uncompressed mono track. There are optional English (SDH) subtitles on this Region 'A' Blu-ray.

Criterion, thankfully, stack the Blu-ray supplements starting with a new commentary by genre-film historian Tom Weaver. He is always fun and informative doing interview recreations and providing airtime to horror-music expert David Schecter to provide details on the score. Weaver covers plenty of lesser-known minutia (producer Albert Zugsmith added the word "Incredible" to Matheson's title, the cat and spiders used etc.), he reads from Giancarlo Stampalia's book entitled Grant Williams, and cites his own interviews stars related tangentially related to The Incredible Shrinking Man. It's a wonderful addition especially since Criterion have revered away from new commentaries in the past few years. There is a new 25-minute program on the film’s special effects by effects experts Craig Barron and Ben Burtt who discuss filming techniques used to create some of The Incredible Shrinking Man's set pieces. We get a new 23-minute conversation between filmmaker Joe Dante and comedian and writer Dana Gould who discuss their love of The Incredible Shrinking Man. Auteur on the Campus: Jack Arnold at Universal (Director’s Cut) is a new 50-minute piece, there is a 11-minute interview from 2016 with Richard Christian Matheson, novelist and screenwriter Richard Matheson’s son. We get another of Robert Fischer's Fiction Factory gems. Here is an interview with director Jack Arnold from 1983 running 27-minutes. It was excerpted from a series of interviews conducted by German journalist Roland Johannes in August 9th and 10th, 1983, at director Jack Arnold's office on the Universal Studios lot over the course of two days. NOTE: From Robert Fischer in email: "The Koch Media Blu-ray had the 12-minute version as aired on German television back in the nineties. Thanks to Roland Johannes, I gained access to the complete, unedited footage of his talks with Arnold and composed this newly illustrated version of Arnold's unabridged comments on The Incredible Shrinking Man (thereby adding 15 minutes to what Koch had on their disc), which previously was only available as a German transcript in a book on Arnold published in 1993." Criterion include an 8 mm home-cinema version from 1957 runny shy of 17-minutes, plus a trailer and teaser narrated by filmmaker Orson Welles. Included is the 17-minute The Lost Music of The Incredible Shrinking Man where horror-film-music expert David Schecter presents recordings previously lost and unused for the film. Return to Dust is a harrowing 20-minute radio play, about a scientist shrinking in his lab. It originally aired via the program Suspense on February 1st, 1959. The scientist is played by Richard "Dick" Beals an actor with a unique high-pitched voice. The package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien. 

The Incredible Shrinking Man is an unforgettable classic - full of continuity questions, extremely inventive and ambitious effects, bizarre concluding speech, and filled with childhood nostalgia. The stacked 4K-restored Criterion Blu-ray, filled with a new commentary and extensive supplements, is too alluring to resist and we give it a very strong recommendation! This is a huge keeper for me. 

***

ADDITION: Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray June 15': Initially, looking at the static captures, the new 1080P from Germany may not seem like a huge HD difference, but it actually transforms the artifacts in the SD to rich grain. It is in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and shows a bit more information in the frame. Contrast is more layered and the detail tightens. The higher resolution may show some of the lesser-quality special-effects of the film a bit more prominently. There are segments showing depth. It is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate. It may be a different print with a few more speckles but I doubt this can look significantly better. It shows some pleasing texture not present in SD. This follows other Universal Sci-fi/creature features on Blu-ray from Germany like The Mole People (1956), Tarantula (1955), The Monolith Monsters (1957) and The Land Unknown (1957) although this, The Incredible Shrinking Man, may be considered the most 'classic' - a totally inventive gem from the late 50's.

Audio is transferred via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 1585 kbps in original English and a similarly robust German DUB. Audio effects are less notable than the score - by uncredited combination of Earl E. Lawrence, Irving Gertz (Plunder Road, Blonde Ice and The Deadly Mantis among others), Herman Stein (This Island Earth) and Hans J. Salter (The Wolfman). It is quite dramatic and impacting adding flavor to the viewing experience. There are fully optional English and German subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

Koch add supplements; a 12-minute interview with Jack Arnold in English but German-friendly, ditto for an 8-minute Super 8 digest-version of The Incredible Shrinking Man, plus an English theatrical trailer, teaser and an image gallery.

I would find this Blu-ray hard to resist. This unique classic is one I revisit at least once a year.... and I relish owning it in the best digital version (now where is This Island Earth?) - Recommended!

***

ON THE DVD: This is quite an above average transfer. Single layered but stacked with a host of DUBs and subtitle options - the image is acceptably sharp, progressive, anamorphic and there is some grain and dirt showing through. I enjoyed its consistency and lack of digital manipulation. No extras at all but like many of the new crop of Universal PAL DVDs they are set to be sold with region-coding to flog in Europe, Middle East, Russia and Australia.

Gary W. Tooze

 


DVD Menus


Koch Media - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

Subtitle Sample

 

1) Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Universal (Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection) - Region 1- NTSC REVIEWED HERE SECOND

3) Koch - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Universal (Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection) - Region 1- NTSC REVIEWED HERE SECOND

3) Koch - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - THIRD

4) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

1) Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Koch - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Universal - Region 2,4,5 - PAL - TOP

2) Koch - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - MIDDLE

3) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

1) Koch - Region 'B' - Blu-ray - TOP

2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

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

 Box Covers

CLICK to order from:

or in the US edition  (September 2012)

Also available on Blu-ray from Arrow in the UK:

BONUS CAPTURES:

Distribution Universal Pictures - Region 2,4,5 - PAL Koch Media
Region 'B' -
Blu-ray
Criterion Spine #1100- Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 




 


 

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