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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Eye of the Needle [Blu-ray]

 

(Richard Marquand, 1981)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Kings Road Entertainment

Video: Twilight Time / BFI

 

Disc:

Region: FREE / Region 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:51:41.736 / 1:51:43.238

Disc Size: 33,374,113,765 bytes / 38,892,698,185 bytes

Feature Size: 32,251,582,464 bytes / 30,483,772,800 bytes

Video Bitrate: 29.99 Mbps / 27.70 Mbps

Chapters: 24  / 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: September, 2016 / September 24th, 2018

 

Video (both):

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2017 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2017 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Isolated Score:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2050 kbps 3.0 / 48 kHz / 2050 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 3.0 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2051 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2051 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
Interview:

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

LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit

 

Subtitles (both):

English (SDH), None

 

Extras:

Audio Commentary with Music Historian Jon Burlingame and Film Historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman
Isolated Score Track
Original Theatrical Trailer (1:47)

Liner notes by Julie Kirgo

Limited to 3,000 Copies!

 

Audio commentary by Julie Kirgo, Nick Redman and music historian Jon Burlingame
Alternate ending sequence, which appeared on the previous UK DVD release (3:37)
Donald Sutherland Guardian Interview (1987, 73 mins, audio only)
Careless Talk Costs Lives: Wartime Warnings: three short wartime propaganda films produced by Ealing Studios for the Ministry of Information (12:12, 11:44, 11:08)
Theatrical trailer (1:48)
Illustrated booklet with full film credits and new writing by Little White Lies essayist Paul Fairclough

DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

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

 

 

Description: Based on Ken Follett's best-seller, Eye of the Needle (1981) is a moody thriller set during the waning days of World War II and focusing on a ruthless Nazi spy (Donald Sutherland) operating covertly in England. Discovering vital information about the upcoming D-Day invasion, he plots a return to Germany, only to be stranded on an island off the coast of Scotland; there, his icy resolve is disturbed by an unexpected relationship with a woman (Kate Nelligan) living in isolation with her bitter disabled husband (Christopher Cazenove). Directed by Richard Marquand (Return of the Jedi), and featuring a superlative score by the legendary Miklós Rózsa.

***

Donald Sutherland (Don't Look Now) and Kate Nelligan (The Prince of Tides) play star-crossed lovers torn between passion and allegiance in this heart-wrenching World War ll-set thriller, played out against the blitz-scarred 1940s backdrop of England and the windswept hills of the Scottish islands. En route to the Fatherland with secrets that will stop the D-Day invasion, ruthless spy 'The Needle' (Sutherland) finds himself shipwrecked on the remote Storm Island. Here he becomes involved in a perilous affair with the beautiful, but lonely Lucy (Nelligan), who lives there with her bitter, crippled ex-RAF husband, David (Christopher Cazenove). But can the fierce passion of illicit love survive the bitter realities of war?

 

 

The Film:

A ruthless German spy who goes by the name of Henry Faber (Donald Sutherland) is on his way back home from England after gathering information about the D-Day invasion for Hitler. Henry, who is actually the "Needle," a name that refers to his favorite method of killing, becomes stranded on Storm Island with Lucy (Kate Nelligan) and her husband, David (Christopher Cazenove). Lucy's strained relationship with her disabled husband leaves her vulnerable to Henry's charms.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

Sutherland, a Canadian, plays a German who is pretending to be an Englishman, and makes a convincing job of it. At the outset seeming to be an old-fashioned World War II spy thriller, with its steam trains, fog, lacquered advertisements and Bulldog Spirit, this keeps up with the times by also offering a string of sudden 'necessary' murders, a half-severed hand, a ration of naked top-half bed-thrashing, and a hopeless, vicious triangle relationship. The war is ultimately reduced to three people, stranded on a rain-soaked Scottish island. But the drama remains strangely unengaging: we soon realise that the legless (in both senses) ex-Spitfire pilot is going to have to go, and though the hysterical, bullet-ridden climax is impressive, we know that there can be only one survivor.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

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

Eye of the Needle comes to Twilight Time Blu-ray in a dual-layered, 1080P transfer with their usual high bitrate. The visuals are reasonable but not overwhelming. It's not overly crisp nor colors particularly vibrant but I suppose this is more the source than the transfer. It looks quite consistent in-motion with no damage or speckles.  I see no evidence of manipulation or noise. Some of the outdoor scenes - Scotland and England - look bright and impressive. This Blu-ray gives a good presentation in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio - probably as good as it will get for this film.

 

The BFI is described as "Director Richard Marquand's preferred cut of the film" which appears to be the same as the Twilight Time. It is technically a slightly less robust 1080P transfer and the image may be marginally fainter but has a bit more texture support and marginally warmer skin tones. It has similar framing with only some minor variation. The image quality is very close and most may not notice the differences.

 

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

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

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

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

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

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

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

 

 

1) Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Audio comes via a DTS-HD Master 2.0 channel at 2017 kbps (24-bit). many effects sounds are subtle and some more aggressive - gun or skirmish and the lossless track handles them with ease. The iconic Miklós Rózsa did the score (The Killers, The Lost Weekend, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Double Indemnity) and its an excellent part of the film experience highlighting tension.  There are optional English (SDH) subtitles offered and my Oppo has identified it as being region FREE.

 

Linear PCM (24-bit) is very hard to distingush differences from the Twilight Time audio transfer. It seems flawless to me. It has optional English (SDH) subtitles and the Blu-ray is Region 'B'-locked.    

 

Extras :

Twilight Time add a new audio commentary with music historian Jon Burlingame and film historians Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman. They discuss Nelligan, the Rózsa score and much more. It's relaxing and educational. There is also the usual Isolated Score Track, and an original theatrical trailer. The package has some liner notes by Julie Kirgo and is limited to 3,000 copies.

 

Same audio commentary as offered on the Twilight Time with by Julie Kirgo, Nick Redman and music historian Jon Burlingame. BFI add the 3.5 minute alternate ending sequence, which appeared on the previous UK DVD release, plus a lengthy, audio-only, Donald Sutherland Guardian Interview from 1987, and three short (10+ minute each) wartime propaganda films produced by Ealing Studios for the Ministry of Information. There is also a theatrical trailer and the package has an illustrated booklet with full film credits and new writing by Little White Lies essayist Paul Fairclough as well as a second disc DVD.

 

Twilight Time - Region FREE - Blu-ray

 

BFI - Region 'B' - Blu-ray

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Eye of the Needle is a very above average suspense-thriller and a darn good war film. The performances are highly engaging from the Canadian pair (Sutherland and Nelligan) and it's very entertaining if not particularly memorable. The Twilight Time Blu-ray provides as good an a/v transfer for the film as we're likely to get and further value with the bonus commentary, isolated score and liner notes. It's a complete package and is certainly recommended!

 

Great film - gets better each time I see it and the BFI Blu-ray may have a slight edge with the supplements - but both releases are worthy of owning. Certainly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

October 21st, 2016

October 2nd, 2018

 

 

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.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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