Diamonds Are Forever

Special Edition

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Details At A Glance

Category Bond Menu Animation and Audio
Audio Commentary - Guy Hamilton (Director) et al
Featurette - Inside Diamonds Are Forever (30:37)
Featurette - Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond (41:20)
Deleted Scenes
Theatrical Trailers
TV Spots
Radio Spots
Rating m.gif (1166 bytes)
Year Released 1971
Running Time 114:52
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (97:21)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Guy Hamilton
UnitedArtists.gif (10720 bytes)
Fox Home Video
Starring Sean Connery
Jill St. John
Charles Gray
Lana Wood
Jimmy Dean
Bruce Cabot
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $34.95 Music John Barry
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256 Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9Yes.jpg (4536 bytes)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    To understand what Diamonds Are Forever represents in the life of the Bond franchise, one has to learn a little bit about the time in which it was made. When Sean Connery quit the Bond series due to frustrations with press harassment and differences with the Bond producers, said producers had the idea that they could simply slot another suave and pithy actor into the role, and all would be well. The rather lukewarm reception that On Her Majesty's Secret Service received from audiences and critics alike, however, sent them into a panic that resulted in a series of knee-jerk reactions. When George Lazenby quit the series for reasons that are rendered in conflicting stories, then United Artists president David Picker went to Sean Connery with an offer so large (at that time) that it earned a place in the Guinness Book Of Records. This offer included a 1.25 million-dollar salary (which he donated to the Scottish International Education Trust, a charity he was involved in the creation of), a percentage of the profits, and a financing deal for two of his own film projects. Unfortunately, in the rush to shed all of the supposed mistakes of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the makers dumped the new, more meaningful style of Bond film and went back to the old, substanceless style of Bond film that borders on self-satire.

    Diamonds Are Forever begins with James Bond (Sean Connery) tracking Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray) to a remote, typically Bond hideaway and (seemingly) killing him by drowning him in a heated mudbath. After this introductory sequence, we return to MI6 headquarters, where Bond is briefed on his new mission: to investigate a diamond-smuggling ring. To this end, Bond travels to America, where a rich casino owner is suspected to be behind the operation. When that mastermind turns out to be none other than Blofeld himself, Bond becomes driven to unravel Blofeld's plans and avenge the murder of his wife, a sad event that closed the previous film. Personally, I think killing off the best Bond woman the series has ever had was a big mistake, but that's how the novel went. Along the way, we meet some distinctly ordinary Bond women in the form of Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) and Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood). The new grand scheme from Blofeld revolves around a satellite laser (not aimed at Bond's groin this time), a floating fortress, and this uncanny habit of putting Bond in cells that have holes in them. In other words, the Bond producers have simply dumped all of the emotion that made On Her Majesty's Secret Service the best Bond film ever and pulled out all of the stops.

    Diamonds Are Forever is held by many, including a certain character from Trainspotting, to be the weakest entry in the Connery Bond films, or even the entire Bond saga. I personally believe the episodes containing Roger Moore to be a collective slump for the series, but one must bear in mind that I am only a casual viewer. Overall, I enjoyed Diamonds Are Forever, but not nearly as much as On Her Majesty's Secret Service or GoldenEye, largely because of some glaring factual errors in the story (scorpions don't kill that quickly) and an unsatisfying climax. Still, fanatics will be more than happy with this film and its presentation on DVD.

Transfer Quality


    The video transfer is presented in the proper aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 Enhanced. The packaging incorrectly states that the transfer is in the ratio of 1.77:1. The packaging does not state the fact that this transfer is also encoded with automatic pan and scan information.

    The transfer is as sharp as the film is ever going to get, barring the creation of a whole new interpositive. The shadow detail is average, but acceptable for a film of this age, especially considering that most of the film takes place in well-lit locations. There was no low-level noise, but film grain was a slight problem at times.

    The colours are rendered well in this transfer, with the myriad shades all represented perfectly without any evidence of bleeding or misregistration. However, the overall scheme is somewhat on the dull side, with the sets and the photographic processes resulting in a picture that looks somewhat dull and grey, especially in comparison to the beautiful mountainsides in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. This is no fault of the transfer, however, so it is not worth deducting points for.

    MPEG artefacts were not noted during the main feature, although the compression ratio seems to be tighter than usual for a Bond film, with the bit rate hovering around five megabits a second, and at times falling as low as three and a half megabits. In spite of this, the compression is as transparent as you can reasonably expect for a twenty-nine year old film. Film-to-video artefacts consisted of some minor aliasing from time to time, but this artefact was infrequent and never too severe. Film artefacts are a slight problem in this transfer, with some sizeable black flecks appearing on the screen every now and again. Small white flecks were more constant, but both types of film artefact were at an acceptable level for a twenty-nine year old picture. Some very ugly yellow-brown blotches, probably dirt on the source material, can be seen at 79:39.

    This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place between Chapters 28 and 29, at 97:21. Although this layer change is noticeable, it is not disruptive to the overall flow of the film.


    The audio transfer can best be described as functional, presenting little more than a slight warm-up for my new main speakers due to a certain lack of oomph. This, however, is not a technical criticism, just a mere subjective observation because the transfer is still quite good in the technical sense. It's just that, like Sean Connery's performance, a lot of the sound effects in this film have a certain "okay, I'm here, now where's my paycheck?" sort of feel to them.

    The audio transfer contains two soundtracks: the original English dialogue in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, and a commentary track in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, both with the slightly higher bitrate of 256 kilobits per second. The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, with a slight limit posed from time to time by Sean Connery's accent. His pronunciation of the word "pussy", a major reason why I indulged in Goldfinger, is one of the many reasons why Scottish accents are the best kind one can possibly have. A brief audio dropout exists during the scene in which Bond narrowly avoids being cremated alive, with total silence apparent for a second at 31:59. Other than this one minor problem, there were no clicks, pops, or any other audio dropouts in the soundtrack. There are no audio sync problems relating to the transfer, but there were one or two moments when some sloppy ADR work became apparent.

    The score music is credited to John Barry, who is considered to be the best score composer the Bond franchise has ever had. Myself, I say one Bond score is as good as another, with the exception of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, where the improved plot gave the score more of a basis for development. This particular score left little impression upon me, but it matched the onscreen action well, and was never distracting or annoying. You'd just have to be a fan in the extreme sense of the word to want to indulge in this score music without the accompanying film.

    Being that this is a Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix, there was no surround channel activity or stereo separation in the soundtrack. Some will probably lament the lack of a 5.1 or Pro-Logic remix, but since this was the way that the film was presented in theatres, it's good enough for me.

    The subwoofer had a nice time supporting redirected low-frequency information, in spite of not being specifically called upon to do so.


    Continuing the thematic presentation of the Bond saga is a nice collection of extras, all presented quite nicely.


    The menu is enhanced with the usual animation and audio, as well as the Activate button that I personally find to be something of an annoyance. It is also 16x9 Enhanced and quite easy to navigate. Interestingly, the audio that accompanies this menu is in Linear PCM rather than the usual Dolby Digital 2.0 that has featured in the menus of previous Bond DVDs.

Audio Commentary - Guy Hamilton (Director) et al

    Like all of the previous films in the series, this commentary is merely a collection of snippets from interviews or other such commentary materials, presented with some narration. As much as I disliked the live commentary tracks provided for GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough, they are much preferable because it is easy to keep track of who is saying what. Like those two commentary tracks however, this one is presented in a very deadpan and flat manner that suggests the commentary was recorded out of obligation.

Featurette - Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond (41:20)

    Presented in varying aspect ratios, with the documentary being Full Frame and the footage from various episodes in the Bond saga in their original aspect ratios, this featurette is not 16x9 Enhanced. The sound is Dolby Digital 2.0, with no surround information encoded. The featurette basically features relatives and friends of Albert Broccoli talking about his career in filmmaking, from where it all began to the day he began producing movie versions of Ian Fleming's Bond novels.

Featurette - Inside Diamonds Are Forever (30:37)

    Presented Full Frame, with footage from the film in its theatrical aspect ratio, this featurette is not 16x9 Enhanced. The soundtrack is Dolby Digital 2.0, and sounds monaural. Essentially, this is a look inside the production mechanics of the film, with some insight into the decision to make Diamonds Are Forever more parallel with Goldfinger (the original draft of the screenplay revolved around Auric Goldfinger's twin brother, and it was a good decision to drop that idea). The threat of Americanizing Bond which was averted when United Artists persuaded Sean Connery to return in spite of already having another actor signed for the part, is discussed in some detail.

Deleted Scenes

    A submenu with four scenes that were cut from the theatrical release of the film for one reason or another. They are presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and they are not 16x9 Enhanced. Their overall value is somewhat limited, but they are in remarkably good shape for pieces from a film left on the cutting room floor for the last twenty-nine years.

Theatrical Trailers

    Another submenu with a choice between the Teaser Trailer that promises the release of the film in time for Christmas, and the Release Trailer. The former trailer is presented in the aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is not 16x9 Enhanced. The latter trailer is presented Full Frame. Both feature Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, and are in great shape considering their age.

TV Spots

    A collection of five TV Spots, presented Full Frame with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, all under their own submenu. Most of them are in good shape, although TV Spot number four is looking a little faded and worn. All five TV Spots are affected to some degree by misaligned frames and film artefacts.

Radio Spots

    Presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtracks over a still picture, these are the advertisements that were broadcast for the picture. Worth a listen, but it is easy to see (sic) why radio advertisements for films are much less common nowadays.


    An eight-page booklet with a listing of chapter stops and some text about production issues and other interesting bits of trivia about the film.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 and Region 1 versions of this disc are fundamentally identical, both being 16x9 Enhanced with the original soundtrack in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, so the local version of the disc is the best choice.


    Diamonds Are Forever is, in my view, a weak entry in the Bond saga because of its attempt to recreate the atmosphere in a previous film when it could have continued the positive change of having a substantial story set by the previous episode. It is presented on an excellent DVD.

    The video quality is good, although there are a few too many film artefacts.

    The audio quality is good, considering the limitations of the source material.

    The extras are comprehensive.

Ratings (out of 5)

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© Dean McIntosh (my bio sucks... read it anyway)
October 27, 2000. 
Review Equipment
DVD Grundig GDV 100 D, using composite output; Toshiba SD-2109, using S-video output
Display Samsung CS-823AMF (80 cm), 16:9 mode/4:3 mode, using composite and S-video inputs, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Built In (Amplifier)
Amplification Sony STR-DE835, calibrated using the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Speakers Yamaha NS-45 Front Speakers, Philips PH931SSS Rear Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Active Subwoofer