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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Byron Haskin
USA 1953

 

The daring grandfather of more modern day alien attack films such as Independence Day and still giving a mutated birth to, most recently, Mr. Spielberg's imprint of the same name (well minus the "The"). The mere existence of this classic just goes to prove that there is very little from the past that won't be absconded and re-shaped with a current twist - or that there are very few new idea ventures in the cultural void of Hollywood.

Producer George Pal was already onto a good thing with past success of 1950's Destination Moon and 1951's When Worlds Collide. But the real glory came with this more subtle Martian invasion where the imagery of the villains is as frighteningly commonplace as a 1952 vacuum cleaner. Gene Barry and Ann Robinson do a grand job of as our hero's - staying alive and narrating the global events of destruction. The relentless aliens and their deadly manta-rays were immensely chilling and unforgettable to a child's mind. Aside from the occasional weak effects and an acceptable continuity error... or two, this has all the fun and charismatic charm of other 50's quintessential sci-fi gems like This Island Earth and Invaders From Mars! Don't deny yourself the ultimate pleasure of a mixture of pure cinema innocence, magical screeching alien sounds, and a haunting cosmic attack that will stay with you well past puberty. It is certainly one of the better of its niche-genre and well worth checking out on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

***

A mysterious, meteorlike object has landed in a small California town. All clocks have stopped. A fleet of glowing green UFOs hovers menacingly over the entire globe. The Martian invasion of Earth has begun, and it seems that nothing—neither military might nor the scientific know-how of nuclear physicist Dr. Clayton Forrester (Gene Barry)—can stop it. In the expert hands of genre specialists George Pal and Byron Haskin, H. G. Wells’s end-of-civilization classic receives a chilling Cold War–era update, complete with hallucinatory Technicolor and visionary, Oscar-winning special effects. Emblazoned with iconographic images of 1950s science fiction, The War of the Worlds is both an influential triumph of visual imagination and a still-disquieting document of the wonder and terror of the atomic age.

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 3rd, 1953

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Comparison:

Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Paramount (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC vs. Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Box Cover

 

 

 

Bonus Captures:

 

Distribution

Paramount

Region 1  - NTSC

Paramount (SCE)

Region 1  - NTSC

Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray Criterion - Spine #1037 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray
Runtime 1:25:18    1:25:18 1:25:25.203  1:25:37.215
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.54 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 8.60 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 37,348,470,237 bytes

Feature: 25,748,539,392 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.16 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,817,447,668 bytes

Feature: 28,189,009,920 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.84 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 (SCE):

Bitrate Imprint Blu-ray:

Bitrate Criterion Blu-ray:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0) English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), DUB: French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)

DTS-HD Master Audio English 3188 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3188 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Commentaries:
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 384 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 384 kbps

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3285 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 3285 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

Subtitles None English, None English, None English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio: Paramount

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer
• Widescreen anamorphic format

DVD Release Date: April 20th, 1999
Keep Case

Chapters 13

Release Information:
Studio: Paramount

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by: by actors Ann Robinson and Gene Barry

• Commentary by film director Joe Dante, film historian Bob Burns and Bill Warren, author of Keep Watching the Skies!: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties 
• The Original Mercury Theatre Radio Broadcast of The War of the Worlds
• The Sky is Falling: The Making of The War of the Worlds
• H.G. Wells: The Father of Science Fiction
• Original Theatrical Trailer

DVD Release Date: November 1st, 2005

Double-Lock Keep Case
Chapters: 13

Release Information:
Studio:
Imprint

 

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 37,348,470,237 bytes

Feature: 25,748,539,392 bytes

Video Bitrate: 32.16 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Commentary by Barry Forshaw and Kim Newman
• Commentary by: by actors Ann Robinson and Gene Barry
• Commentary by film director Joe Dante, film historian Bob Burns and Bill Warren, author of • Keep Watching the Skies!: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties
• The Original Mercury Theatre Radio Broadcast of The War of the Worlds (59:10)
• The Sky is Falling: The Making of The War of the Worlds (30:00)
• H.G. Wells: The Father of Science Fiction (10:25)
• Original Theatrical Trailer (2:19)
• Imprint Trailer (0:26)


Blu-ray Release Date:
June 5th, 2020
Transparent Blu-ray Case inside cardboard sleeve (see below)

Chapters 16

Release Information:
Studio:
Criterion

 

1.37:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,817,447,668 bytes

Feature: 28,189,009,920 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.84 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary from 2005 featuring filmmaker Joe Dante, film historian Bob Burns, and author Bill Warren
• Movie Archaeologists, a new program on the visual and sound effects in the film featuring Burtt and film historian Craig Barron (29:28)
• From the Archive, a new program about the film’s restoration featuring Barron, Burtt, and Paramount Pictures archivist Andrea Kalas (20:28)
• Audio interview with producer George Pal from 1970 (49:10)
• The Sky Is Falling, a 2005 documentary about the making of the film (29:59)
• The Mercury Theatre on the Air radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds from 1938, directed and narrated by Orson Welles (57:28)
• Radio program from 1940 featuring a discussion between Welles and H. G. Wells, author of the 1897 novel The War of the Worlds (27:57)
• Trailer (2:23)
• PLUS: An essay by film critic J. Hoberman


Blu-ray Release Date:
July 7th, 2020
Transparent Blu-ray Case

Chapters 10

Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray Package

 

Comments:

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

ADDITION: Criterion Blu-ray (June 2020): Criterion have, likewise, transferred Bryon Haskin's iconic 1953 War of the Worlds to Blu-ray from a "New 4K digital restoration". It is on a dual-layered disc with a max'ed out bitrate. It looks almost exactly the same as the 4K Imprint restoration. Although I didn't compare every frame of the film, it has been reported that Criterion may have done some color correction that may have required 'fixing - ex. Mars (The red planet) being shown as blue etc... Also there was talk of the exposed wires;

From Wikipedia: "Despite the many accolades awarded to the film, for 50 years, beginning in the late 1960s when The War of the Worlds 3-strip Technicolor prints were replaced by the easier-to-use and less expensive Eastman Color stock, the quality of the film's special effects suffered dramatically, resulting in a degradation of lighting, timing, and image resolution, causing the originally invisible wires suspending the Martian war machines to become increasingly more visible with each succeeding advance in film and video formats, leading many, including respected critics, to believe the effects were originally of low quality."

This is another advancement over the SD digital versions. I would only add that to the very discerning eye that the Criterion, with its higher bitrate, may appear marginally superior 'in-motion' - otherwise, colors, contrast, framing and detail are on par with the strong Australian Blu-ray from the 2018 restoration.

NOTE: We have added 79 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

For the audio, Criterion also offer a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround (24-bit) bump or a linear PCM 2.0 channel track (24-bit) - both in the original English language. It gives the Criterion the edge in the mono track (24-bit vs. 16-bit) giving the original audio a more robust deeper experience. The Criterion states "The War of the Worlds is presented with two soundtrack options: the original monaural track and an alternate 5.1 surround audio mix created for the 2018 restoration of the film by Academy Award-winning sound designer Ben Burtt". Criterion also add optional subtitles - English (SDH) on their Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray.

Criterion also include the audio commentary from 2005 featuring filmmaker Joe Dante, film historian Bob Burns, and author Bill Warren, Welles' original Mercury Theatre Radio Broadcast, and the 2005 documentary The Sky Is Falling featuring actors Gene Barry, Robert Cornthwait and Ann Robinson; assistant director Michael D. Moore; Jack Senter, who worked in The War of the Worlds' art department; Diana Gemora, daughter of makeup artist Charles Gemora; film historian Bob Burns; filmmaker Ray Harryhausen; author Justin Humphreys; and visual-effects supervisor Robert Skotak.

What is new is the 1/2 hour Movie Archaeologists. Visual-effects supervisor Craig Barron and sound designer Ben Burtt are historians of specialized filmmaking techniques. In this documentary, produced by the Criterion Collection in 2020, they discuss the production of The War of the Worlds, including the film's innovative use of visual and sound effects along with rare footage from the Paramount Pictures archives. In another 20-minute program, produced by the Criterion in 2020, entitled From the Archive, senior vice president of asset management for Paramount Pictures Andrea Kalas, along with Barron and Burtt, who served as consultants on the 2018 restoration of The War of the Worlds, discuss their work on the film. There is a 50-minutes of excerpts from an audio recording of George Pal's 'Harold Lloyd Master Seminar at the American Film Institute' on February 5th,1970. In them, he discusses his career and the use of special effects in his films and fields questions from the audience. Running 1/2 hour is a radio program from 1940 featuring a discussion between Orson Welles and H. G. Wells, author of the 1897 novel The War of the Worlds. Pretty cool. Lastly, are a trailer and the package has liner notes with an essay by film critic J. Hoberman.

Choices. With the Imprint you get the two additional commentaries and the handsome slipcase package - with the Criterion you get negligibly superior video, improved mono audio, and the new extras; restoration details, audio interviews and the liner notes. Either is a must-own and we lean to owning both as they each offer unique value for this classic's long deserved arrival in 1080P.

***

ADDITION: Imprint Blu-ray (June 2020): Newcomer Imprint out of Australia (the disc starts with a ViaVison logo) have transferred Bryon Haskin's iconic 1953 War of the Worlds to Blu-ray, beating out the upcoming Criterion who's 1080P release is due in about a month (HERE.) It was rumored to come from a 4K restoration and I am pleased with the HD presentation. It's on a dual-layered disc with a high bitrate. There was some minor inconsistency in which the visuals seemed saturated (notably in the beginning) but for the vast majority of the film, the image quality is excellent. It represent the 3-strip Technicolor very decently. The image is clean, with depth - colors have a very appealing richness. Grain textures are there but not prominent and I don't see the image has any undue gloss. It was a very pleasant surprise and I will compare it to the Criterion Blu-ray when it arrives. There was a touch of movement in the frame but it generally seems faithful without cropping and often shows a shade more of inconsequential information in the frame. 

On their Blu-ray, Imprint offer a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround (24-bit) bump or a linear PCM 2.0 channel track (16-bit) - both in the original English language. The surround has some potency in the Martian death-rays and other effects that I have never heard in previous viewings. The separations were evident if not discrete.  score by Leith Stevens (Great Day in the Morning, The Gun Runners, Syncopation, World Without End, The Night of the Grizzly, I Married a Monster From Outer Space, 20 Million Miles to Earth, The Garment Jungle) sounding a bit drowned out by the intensity of the alien-invasion effects. Imprint offer optional English subtitles on their Region FREE Blu-ray (Yes, it is Region FREE - not 'B'-locked as advertised).

The Imprint Blu-ray duplicated the addition of the two commentaries available in the 2005 DVD (with actors Ann Robinson and Gene Barry and - in the second - Joe Dante, film historian Bob Burns and Bill Warren, author of Keep Watching the Skies!: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties), but add a new one with Barry Forshaw (author the BFI Film Classics' The War of the Worlds book) and the inestimable Kim Newman! They feed off each other's enthusiasm very well, admitting that they won't point out actors and their other films as they are aware that of the existing Joe Dante et all commentary also included that does that effectively. They talk of past War of the Worlds representations including Welles', about it being in US rather than England, the red and green glow, the three strip Technicolor, what it would have been like if Lang, Hitchcock or Ray Harryhausen had made it, and much more. It's wonderful and I have listened to it twice. The rest of the supplements repeat what is on the DVD with the hour long original Mercury Theatre (audio) radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds from Orson Welles, the 1/2 hour The Sky is Falling: The Making of The War of the Worlds, ten minute piece on H.G. Wells: The Father of Science Fiction, the original theatrical trailer and an Imprint Trailer advert of their initial slate of Blu-ray offerings. There are no liner notes.

The Imprint Blu-ray of the 1953 War of the Worlds is a good sign and we look forward to reviewing more of their future releases of desirable films that have been neglected in 1080P to-date. We will compare to the Criterion, but this has plenty of value - solid a/v and the addition of the new fun-filled commentary. I'm really glad I have this one. 

Gary Tooze

 

ON THE DVDs (2005): The original release was quite fraught with errors - lots of artifacts, boosted brightness affecting the colors, fairly sharp and grainy at times - hazy at others, and sporting a blemish or two in the wear-and-tear department. Certainly quite tube-acceptable but far from what it could have been. Now this new issue may be better, especially in the area of light scratches, but I would say it is again, far from perfect. There are instances in the new release where digitalization and softness have taken over. Colors look very similar most of the time but an overall improvement is noted especially in skin tones with exceptions (see last capture).

 

There is minor cropping on various edges but mostly noted on the sides of the new release. Obviously the best attribute of the new edition are the extensive extras and commentaries with my preference for the Joe Dante one - especially the input from Bill Warren author of Keep Watching the Skies!: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties. Audio has also had a boost with an optional 2.0 surround track added that, in my opinion, really exemplified the alien shrieks... and made them even scarier! With all that is included in this release, $10 is a true bargain... and a great film to watch on Halloween night (or just listen to the included 'Original Mercury Theatre Radio Broadcast of The War of the Worlds')!

 - Henrik Sylow

 


(Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Paramount (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC RIGHT)

 

 
 
 

Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray

Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

 


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

 

Subtitle Samples

 

1) Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray TOP

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

 

 

1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Paramount (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

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

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Paramount (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

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

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Paramount (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

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

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Paramount (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC SECOND

3) Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray THIRD

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

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Paramount (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Paramount (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


1) Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC  TOP

2) Paramount (Special Collector's Edition) - Region 1 - NTSC MIDDLE

3) Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 

 


 

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

 

 
Box Cover

 

 

 

Bonus Captures:

 

Distribution

Paramount

Region 1  - NTSC

Paramount (SCE)

Region 1  - NTSC

Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray Criterion - Spine #1037 - Region 'A' - Blu-ray


 


 

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Gary Tooze

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