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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Day of the Jackal [Blu-ray]

 

(Fred Zinnemann, 1973)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Universal Productions France (An Anglo-French Co-Production) 

Video: Arrow Video

 

Disc:

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

Runtime: 2:22:35.547 

Disc Size: 49,150,066,277 bytes

Feature Size: 38,424,441,600 bytes

Video Bitrate: 31.97 Mbps

Chapters: 13

Case: Transparent Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: September 4th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

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

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

In the Marksman's Eye - a new interview with Neil Sinyard, author of Fred Zinnemann: Films of Character and Conscience (36:00)
Two rare archival clips from the film set, including an interview with Fred Zinnemann (On Location - 2:37, Zinnemann interview - 2:52)
Theatrical trailer (2:04)
Original screenplay by Kenneth Ross (BD-ROM content)
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet featuring new writing by critic Mark Cunliffe and film historian Sheldon Halls

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: In 1971, Frederick Forsythe shot to bestseller status with his debut novel, The Day of the Jackal taut, utterly plausible, almost documentarian in its realism and attention to detail. Two years later, director Fred Zinnemann (High Noon) turned a gripping novel into a nail-biting cinematic experience.

August 1962: the latest attempt on the life of French President Charles de Gaulle by the far right paramilitary organisation, the OAS, ends in chaos, with its architect-in-chief dead at the hands of a firing squad. Demoralised and on the verge of bankruptcy, the OAS leaders meet in secret to plan their next move. In a last desperate attempt to eliminate de Gaulle, they opt to employ the services of a hired assassin from outside the fold. Enter the Jackal (Edward Fox, Gandhi): charismatic, calculating, cold as ice. As the Jackal closes in on his target, a race against the clock ensues to identify and put a stop to a killer whose identity, whereabouts and modus operandi are completely unknown.

Co-starring a plethora of talent from both sides of the Channel, including Michael Lonsdale (Munich), Derek Jacobi (The Odessa File) and Cyril Cusack (1984) and featuring striking cinematography by Jean Tournier (Moonraker), The Day of the Jackal remains one of the greatest political thrillers of all time.

 

 

The Film:

The movie was based on the bestseller novel by Frederick Forsythe, British journalist who made reputation by mixing real life events and fiction in his books. His first novel, THE DAY OF THE JACKAL, published in 1970, also deals with real life events and begins with one. In August 1962, after giving the independence to Algeria, French President Charles De Gaulle (played by Adrien Cayla-Legrand) became the target of extreme right-wingers and disgruntled war veterans united in the terrorist organisation known as OAS. The spectacular attempt on his life fails, the conspirators are caught and their leader, Colonel Bastien-Thirry (Jean Sorel) is executed for treason. At this point, real life is replaced with fiction - a year later, surviving OAS members, led by Colonel Rodin (Eric Porter) had decided to strike again. Their problem is De Gaulle's security service being the best in the world and their own organisation being infiltrated by moles and informants. So, the idea is to have an outsider, contract killer. The mysterious Englishman, known by his code name Jackal (Edward Fox) accepts the offer and begins his methodical work to prepare the assassination. In the meantime, French security services receive some information about OAS plans. Top government officials decide to hand over the case to Inspector Lebel (Michel Lonsdale), the best investigator in France. His job is extremely hard, because he must stop the man he knows nothing about. On the other hand, Jackal, despite some setbacks, is always one step ahead from the police and is getting closer to his target.

[...]

THE DAY OF THE JACKAL remains one of the best, if not the best political thriller ever made. It is clever film, that thrills the audience without insulting their intelligence; one of those rare films that employ viewer's brain as well as senses. Yet, despite anything, it remains very exciting and entertaining film that deserved its place among the classics of the Seventh Art.

Excerpt from rec.arts.movies.reviews (Dragan Antulov)located HERE

At the time of its release, some critics said The Day of the Jackal was a rare case of a film far surpassing the source material on which it was based. Adapting Frederick Forsyth's hugely popular international bestseller to the screen was no simple task. Knowing audiences would be very familiar with the story, director Fred Zinnemann and screenwriter Kenneth Ross followed the book faithfully. But where Forsyth had to describe the details of a fictional assassination attempt on French President Charles de Gaulle in an excessively verbose novel, Zinnemann was able to take viewers through the intricate plot by means of the efficient visual narrative conventions of film, using very little dialogue. The film skillfully intercuts between the painstaking detective work of the French authorities to foil the scheme and The Jackal's brilliant steps to carry out the plan while evading several near captures and maintaining his secret identity.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

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

The Day of the Jackal gets an impressive transfer to Blu-ray from Arrow Films in the UK.  It is dual-layered with a very high bitrate for the 2-hour 20-minute feature. Colors are passive but tight and the presentation shows impressive grain. The 1080P supports a film-like, presentation in the original 1.85:1 frame. I saw no speckles, contrast is strong and the visuals appear flawless in HD. This Blu-ray looks excellent in-motion providing an accurate representation of its theatrical appearance almost 35-years ago.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Arrow utilize a linear PCM mono track at 1152 kbps (24-bit) producing an authentically flat sound. There are limited sequences of aggressive sound effects - silnced gunshots, military march music etc. Georges Delerue (Silkwood, Mister Johnson, Jules et Jim, The Woman Next Door, The Last Metro, Day For Night) did the score that supports the film docu-drama intent well. There are optional English subtitles and my Oppo has identified it as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

Extras :

Arrow include supplements. In the Marksman's Eye is a new 36-minute interview with Neil Sinyard, author of Fred Zinnemann: Films of Character and Conscience and it has plenty to offer (spoilers exist - so see the film first) in discussing Zinnemann, his work habits, style and the production. There are also two, short archival clips from the film set, including a very brief interview with Fred Zinnemann and some comments on the locations. We get a theatrical trailer and through your PC you can access the original screenplay by Kenneth Ross as a 18 megabyte PDF file for those interested. The package has both a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain and for the first pressing purchasers can get a collector's booklet featuring new writing by critic Mark Cunliffe and film historian Sheldon Halls .

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
The Day of the Jackal is such a perfect film - it runs almost as a, behind-the-scenes, documentary on an assassination and the police efforts to squash it. It's fascinating viewing and I can't think of a comparable film in its stature.  The Arrow Blu-ray is a solid with a competently transferred a/v and worthy supplements - especially the Neil Sinyard piece. This is a top political thriller that we can safely put in the 'must-own' category - Arrow does it again - very strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

August 23rd, 2017


 

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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Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Gary W. Tooze

 

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