|Category||Adventure/Fantasy||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1|
|Year Released||1963||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||99:40 minutes||Other Extras||Featurette - The Harryhausen Chronicles (57 minutes)
Filmographies - Crew
Interview - Ray Harryhausen (with John Landis) (11 minutes)
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||2.0|
|16x9 Enhancement||Yes||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
French ( Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||?1.85:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
For those of us raised on Saturday matinees, this is a familiar story, and one that to be honest is not especially original. But really this is not so much about the story, rather the famed effects work of the legendary Ray Harryhausen. Jason And The Argonauts was possibly his masterpiece and the fight with the skeleton army remains a benchmark in film effects. This film was a turning point in many ways for effects work in films, much as Star Wars: A New Hope was fifteen years later, and was an influence to many effects creators of the current era.
The video transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.
In general, the transfer is sharp apart from a few inevitable short sequences of softness, which is to be expected in a film of this age. Shadow detail was in general very good, which is an unexpected bonus. Because of the then limitations of the stop motion effects used throughout the film, the picture becomes decidedly grainier during sequences involving stop motion. Whilst it is very noticeable, especially during the fight with the skeleton army, it does not detract significantly from the film at all. This is definitely not a DVD mastering issue, but rather an inherent problem in the film highlighted by the sharpness of the transfer.
Colours are in general consistently rendered, if a little muted. This is again a result of the original film rather than a mastering problem. There was one minor loss in colour at one point in the film (62:05) but this was far less than I expected in a film of this age.
There were no MPEG artefacts seen and there were no apparent video artefacts. For a film of this age, there were less film artefacts than I was expecting and they really were not that intrusive either. The worst example occurs at 46:40 when the black lines briefly appear across the picture. I have seen far worse from much more recent films, and the film artefacts really should not concern too many people.
The disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change at 83:40. Whilst it is noticeable, it is not especially disruptive to the film.
There are five soundtracks on the DVD, all Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded: the default English soundtrack, plus French, German, Italian and Spanish. Since my foreign language skills are poor, I listened to the default English soundtrack.
Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times.
There seemed to be some very minor audio sync problems earlier on in the film especially, but from my recollection this was a problem in the original film and therefore is not a mastering problem. It is unlikely to be bothersome to most people.
The music score was very much a stock soundtrack for the time and did little to enhance the film at all.
The surround channels were barely used and this seems to be mixed very much left and right channel only.
For a film of its age , this is a very good video transfer.
The audio quality is not especially noteworthy, but is adequate for a film of this age.
A very good collection of extras that adds much to the overall pleasure of the disc.
© Ian Morris
29th August 1999
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 84cm|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|