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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka ' Breaker Morant ')

Directed by Bruce Beresford
Australia 1980

 

At the turn of the twentieth century, three Australian army lieutenants are court-martialed for alleged war crimes committed while fighting in South Africa. With no time to prepare, an Australian major, appointed as defense attorney, must prove that they were just following orders and are being made into political pawns by the British imperial command. Director Bruce Beresford garnered international acclaim for this riveting drama set during a dark period in his country’s colonial history, and featuring passionate performances by Edward Woodward, Bryan Brown, and Jack Thompson; rugged cinematography by Donald McAlpine; and an Oscar-nominated script, based on true events.

***

Three lieutenants (Woodward, Brown, Fitz-Gerald), members of an Australian platoon fighting in the Boer War, are court-martialled for murdering Boer prisoners and a German missionary, and Jack Thompson steps in to try to prove their innocence. It's a Paths of Glory situation, complete with righteous anger at the expedient conniving authorities, distinguished by some strong courtroom scenes and an overwhelming pessimism. If it hardly breaks any new ground either formally or politically, it's nevertheless a moving and highly professional affair, in which Brown and Thompson give particularly good performances.

Excerpt from TimeOut Film Guide located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: May 1980 - Cannes Film Festival

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Comparison:

Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion Collection  Region 'A' - Blu-ray

1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT
2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

 

Box Covers

  

Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine #773 - Region 'A' Blu-ray
Runtime 1:47:00  1:47:18.432  
Video 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.29 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.85:1 1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,218,127,008 bytes

Feature: 27,897,458,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30..50 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

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 5.1), DUBs: Spanish, Portuguese

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

Subtitles English (CC), Spanish, None English (SDH), None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Image Entertainment

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1

Edition Details:

• Documentary on the Boer War (39:36)
• Promotional Radio Spot (:30)

DVD Release Date: January 15th, 2007

Keep Case
Chapters: 18

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

1.85:1 1080P / 23.976 fps Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 46,218,127,008 bytes

Feature: 27,897,458,688 bytes

Video Bitrate: 30..50 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary from 2004 featuring Beresford
• New interviews with Beresford (12:34), cinematographer Donald McAlpine (8:28), and actor Bryan Brown (10:17)
• Interview with actor Edward Woodward from 2004 (16:12)
• New piece about the Boer War with historian Stephen Miller (16:01)
• The Breaker, a 1973 documentary (54:53) profiling the real Harry “Breaker” Morant, with a 2010 statement by its director, Frank Shields (5:42)
• Trailer (2:31)
• PLUS: An essay by film scholar Neil Sinyard

Blu-ray Release Date: September 22nd, 2015
Transparent Keep case

Chapters:23

 

 

 

Comments:

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

 

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray August 15': I never obtained the Image Entertainment Blu-ray from 2008 - if it ever truly existed, but you can see  a huge improvement by the Criterion over the old SD. Notable are the colors - especially skin tones - which return to normalcy (the SD looks quite green beside it). There is excellent detail and plenty of depth in the 1080P transfer. It looks very impressive in-motion. It is advertised as a 'new, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Bruce Beresford'.

 

Criterion go with a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps. There is some battle aggression with gunfire and explosions. The film, though not having a specified score - has music in the form of traditional British, Irish and Afrikaans as well as Edward Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory. It sounds excellent and authentically flat. There are optional English subtitles on the region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

Criterion include a lot of extras. We get the audio commentary from 2004 featuring director Bruce Beresford pointing out production details as well as historical facts regarding the man and the story. There are also new (2015) interviews with Beresford for a dozen minutes recalling the production if his landmark Australian film, 8.5 minutes with cinematographer Donald McAlpine recalling his pivotal early work in Breaker Morant, and 10-minutes with actor Bryan Brown who recalls his international breakthrough performance as Lieutenant Peter Handcock in the film. We get a 2004, 16-minute, interview with actor Edward Woodward about his career and Breaker Morant. There is another new piece about the Boer War with historian Stephen Miller running 16-minutes. The Breaker is a 55-minute 1973 documentary profiling the real Harry “Breaker” Morant, and it comes with a 2010, 5-minute, statement by its director, Frank Shields. Lastly is a trailer and the package has a liner notes booklet with an essay by film scholar Neil Sinyard.

 

Another wonderful Criterion Blu-ray package of an important and masterfully realized film. We give this a very strong recommendation!

 

***

ON THE DVD: Strong dual-layered, progressive and anamorphic transfer from Image Entertainment on this, presumably, new print (restored?) that is also being offered in Blu-ray on February 5th HERE. I never owned the Fox/Lorber (Wellspring) 'Masterworks' edition, which now appears to be out-of-print, or I would have compared. I strongly suspect this newer edition to be superior in terms of image quality. It exhibits exceptional detail at times and it is no wonder this will be bumped to 1080 resolution. It does however have a shade of edge enhancement. Night scenes tend to look a bit 'unusual' and there is some noise present, but it is minor. There are some barely visible speckles and considering it is almost 30 years old looks very good overall. Hopefully the captures below will bear this out to some degree.

The unremarkable audio is consistent and clear - it is supported by optional English (CC) or Spanish subtitles. Extras include a 40 minute documentary on The Boer War - very historical but interesting for those keen (it must have been taken from television but I don't know exactly where). There is also a 30 second promotional radio spot. There are no trailers or liner notes.

The film is powerful and those into military courtroom dramas (evoking Kubrick's Paths of Glory or Ford's magnificent Sergeant Rutledge) with flashbacks, will certainly feel at home. Performances are top notch and this is so enjoyable I'm definitely seduced into obtaining the Blu-ray. Wowser.  

Gary W. Tooze


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

 


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

 


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

 


1) Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC TOP
2) Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 

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Distribution Image Entertainment - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine #773 - Region 'A' Blu-ray




 

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