Featurette - Memories of Navarone
Featurette - Two Girls On The Town
Featurette - Great Guns
Featurette - No Visitors
Featurette - Honeymoon On Rhodes
Featurette - A Message From Carl Foreman
Biographies - Cast and Crew
Audio Commentary - J. Lee Thompson (Director)
Dolby Digital Trailer - City
|Running Time||150:16 minutes|
|Region||2,4||Director||J. Lee Thompson|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448
French (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 5.1, 448 Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes, during credits|
You really want a plot synopsis for The Guns Of Navarone? I would have thought that just about everyone would have seen this film more than once. I have certainly lost count of the number of times that I have seen it - although in some ways this is the first time I have really seen the film, as I have never seen it in its widescreen glory before. The story is of Navarone, an island in the Aegean Sea near the coast of Turkey that controls a shipping passage through the many islands in the area. As a result, the Germans have installed two rather large guns on the island, which they can use to sink Allied shipping. Unfortunately on the nearby island of Kirios is a garrison of 2,000 British soldiers who are about to face the wrath of the German High Command, in the form of an all-out invasion assault of the island. The purpose is to draw the Turks into the war on the Axis side. Naturally the British are not too happy about this, so launch a last ditch effort to place a small saboteur group on Navarone with the express intent of destroying the guns prior to the Axis invasion of Kirios. They hope the destruction of the guns will permit a squadron of British destroyers the opportunity to rescue the garrison. And so we get to meet that little group of personnel, lead by Captain Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck) and Roy "Lucky" Franklin (Anthony Quayle), and including such happy souls as Butcher Brown (Stanley Baker), Spyros Pappadimos (James Darren), Miller (David Niven) and Colonel Andrea Stavros (Anthony Quinn). This little group travel to Navarone, with no great ease it might be added, where they meet up with the local underground, lead by Maria Pappadimos (Irene Papas) and her offsider Anna (Gia Scala). The group now has to avoid capture by the Germans and attempt the impossible - enter the gun emplacement at Navarone and destroy the guns before the British destroyers get there. Oh, and add in two little added dimensions: one of the group is a traitor and the six days that they did have for the job gets chopped to five days - after they have already used three days when they find out.
Based on the Alistair MacLean novel, you can be assured that there is no lack of quality in the story itself. Nicely crafted, this does not in any way overextend its stay - a tad unusual for a film running two and a half hours. This is pretty much an all star cast here, and the performances on screen demonstrate it. Whilst I will not join those in proclaiming this the greatest film of all time (and there are plenty out there who will), this is certainly a good film and the performances are the essence here. Whilst I find none to be truly superlative displays of the acting craft, there are none that could be considered weak. Gregory Peck may have been slightly miscast here, but he turns in a good performance nonetheless. The wonderful Anthony Quinn is his usual reliable self in a role that suits him well. Amongst the three leads, only David Niven really does not seem comfortable - this again seems to be a slightly miscast role and overall he does not convince me of being an explosives expert with a chip big enough to refuse promotion to the officer ranks. The surprise I suppose is the relative effectiveness of James Darren in the role of the Greek émigré returning to his homeland to help fight the Hun - okay, it sounds a tad corny, but he carries it off reasonably well. Stanley Baker provides a typically reliable Stanley Baker performance, whilst Anthony Quayle is also steady as the obviously unlucky one of the group. Both Irene Papas and Gia Scala fill out the token female roles pretty well. Brought in at short notice to take over the film, director J. Lee Thompson does a decent enough job. Overall, I have to say that time has not been kind to this film, and the forty years that have passed since its making have seen its power diminished somewhat. Under the glare of digital investigation, this is found just a little wanting. In particular, some of the effects work comes across very poorly indeed. It is amazing how much things have changed in this area over the last twenty odd years and how it leaves some pre-1977 films decidedly wanting. This is one of those films. Some of the (presumably) blue screen work is particularly poor looking.
A great film that is perhaps starting to show its age a little too much now, The Guns Of Navarone is still one of those quintessential war films that demands inclusion in any collection. I would perhaps have welcomed this with a little more open arms if the restoration had been somewhat better than here, for the transfer certainly highlights every flaw in the print.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced.
Perhaps in this instance it is best to start with what is wrong with the transfer. In a word - grain. Whilst it is not a consistent problem, there are passages in the film that are absolutely rife with it. It seems to mainly afflict material that is perhaps not film material but stock footage inserted into the film, as well as any scene involving any form of effects work or blue screen work. The transfer is also a little dark at times - far more than I would have expected even given that this has significant night-time shots. The effect is to compound the grain problem and further diminish the "watchability" of the transfer. In contrast - which by the way is not especially good either - the transfer generally demonstrates a higher degree of sharpness than I was expecting, even though this has the effect of highlighting the poor effects work. The detail is better than adequate but shadow detail obviously has some problems at times, owing to the dark nature of the transfer. Low level noise does not appear to be too much of an issue in the transfer, whilst the clarity at times is very average. There are numerous sections where this appears to have been filmed through dirty lenses.
In general the colours are distinctly undersaturated and this is possibly an indication of a deliberate attempt to tone the film to give it a dusty Mediterranean look. The result is acceptable enough, although I would have preferred a little more tone to the colours. The daytime scenes in particular could have been a lot more vibrant in the look, but that is a personal preference. Certainly from the time I spent in Cyprus and The Aegean, this is a good representation of the colour tones. There is no problem at all with oversaturation here and colour bleed is only an issue in some exceedingly minor way in the opening credits.
There did not appear to be any significant MPEG artefacts in the transfer, although the odd hint of some blockiness in the background was apparent. This may of course be more related to the grain than to specific MPEG compression problems. There is a consistent problem throughout the transfer with minor shimmer in middle ground and background shots. It never really became anything too drastic, but it was certainly difficult to ignore. There is a decent smattering of film artefacts here that were perhaps more prevalent than I was anticipating in a restored film.
This is an RSDL
formatted disc, and the layer change comes at 98:36.
It is quite well placed, not especially noticeable nor especially disruptive
to the flow of the film at all.
The dialogue comes up reasonably well in the transfer and there is nothing much in the way of audio sync problems here.
The original music for the film comes from Dimitri Tiomkin, whose other film work at the moment totally escapes me even though I recognize the name (that is a rare event). I would hardly classify this as a great score, but it does a fairly reasonable job even though most of the time it seems to be overshadowed by the sound effects.
The remastered soundtrack is in general a disappointment.
I found the sound to be a little too murky at times, lacking any sort of
air in the sound. The result is a little too congested for my tastes, and
the surround channels hardly get called into action at all. The overall
sound seems to be quite front and centre too. The rear surround channels
are especially devoid of any great use. The bass channel gets the occasional
kick in when some support is required for an explosion but even then the
whole thing sounds muddy and a little false. I really would not pick this
as an example of a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack at all, and overall I would
suspect that they would have been better staying with a Dolby Digital 2.0
soundtrack. There seem to be a number of minor drop-outs in the sound here
and there - nothing really objectionable, but enough to be able to hear
the silence against what is at times a soundtrack blessed with just a little
bit of background noise. Not a particularly great example of the art of
remastering in my view.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
5th December 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|