|Category||Adventure||Theatrical Trailer(s)||Yes, 1 - 1.33:1, Mono|
|Year Released||1963||Commentary Tracks||None|
|Running Time||99:42||Other Extras||Filmographies
Interview - Ray Harryhausen with John Landis (11:53)
Featurette - The Harryhausen Chronicles (57:56)
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||No||MPEG||None|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Dolby Digital||2.0 mono|
||Soundtrack Languages||English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
German (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 192Kb/s)
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
For me, this film represents a look back into a time that was long gone by when I was born - the era of the Saturday matinee. An era that I sometimes sorely wish that I had been around for, if truth be told. The story itself is not a terribly original one (several different versions of the "chosen one comes back to claim his rightful kingdom" story come out every year), but the special effects work lifts this film above most of its competitors. Ray Harryhausen's work has been a massive influence on many special effects makers today, including the man who directed Michael Jackson's ground-breaking music video Thriller - John Landis, who interviews Ray for one of the featurettes. Even if you have no interest in the film itself, you are in for some fun if you are interested in the art of special effects, particularly if you are interested in how they were made before the digital era.
The transfer is variably sharp, although this has more to do with the limitations of stop-motion animation in the year 1963 than anything else. Most of the degradation in this respect is confined to the scenes in which Jason and his merry band of Argonauts confront various stop-motion monstrosities. The picture becomes very grainy during these sequences, but I have seen much more modern films on VHS exhibit far worse problems than this (The Thing being a good example of this - even with aliasing galore the DVD romped home all over the VHS). If every film released on DVD had this much care taken with the transfer quality, there'd be no need for an analysis of video quality on DVDs at all. Having said that much, however, the DVD is still reflective of its source material, and thus is somewhat limited in quality. Colour saturation was often inconsistent, although this also has more to do with 1963 NTSC formatting than the DVD itself. In spite of the fact that shadow detail was very good, the actual brightness (or gamma if you want to be technical) level was all over the place in a few sequences, and it cannot be a coincidence that less than ten percent of this film takes place in anything vaguely resembling darkness.
MPEG artefacts were completely absent, as were apparent film-to-video artefacts. Given that a high proportion of this film involves such scenery as the ocean, the chances for MPEG artefacts to occur were abundant, so this is a much better transfer than we have any right to expect. Film artefacts, while picking up the slack, were amazingly rare considering the age of this film, and those that did show were much less intrusive than expected. This film was a staple part of my early life, and I have never seen it look anywhere near this good.
This disc is presented in the RSDL format, with the layer change taking place at 83:40. The layer change is noticeable, but not particularly intrusive. It would have been a little better in one of the fade-outs that occurred earlier in the film, but this is a minor quibble.
The dialogue was clear and easy to follow at all times, although this has a lot to do with the limitations of mono recording in an age where it was pretty much the only option than any heroic effort on the part of the transfer. Other elements, such as the limited sound effects and the music, appeared to have been mixed about two decibels below the dialogue. Overall, this DVD is reflective of the original theatrical exhibition in the audio area, which is much better than having a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix with the sounds stretched around where they do not belong. Audio sync was mildly problematic for the first third of the film, and characters can often be seen with their lips moving and no sound coming out. This is actually a problem with the recording of the original film, and thus cannot be held against the DVD transfer. It is a lot less bothersome than one would expect, given that the video quality of the film half makes you expect it.
The score music was unremarkable, and appeared to be taken from pre-recorded stocks in the Columbia vaults. Nothing to get excited about there.
Given that this film is old enough to be one of those midday presentations introduced in glowing terms by Bill Collins, the video quality is truly triumphant.
The audio quality is good for a film of this vintage, but nothing to write home about.
An excellent, complete, and indispensable collection
|DVD||Grundig GDV 100 D|
|Display||Samsung CS-823AMF, 16:9 mode, using composite input|
|Audio Decoder||Built In|
|Speakers||Panasonic S-J1500D Front Speakers, Sharp CP-303A Back Speakers, Philips FB206WC Centre Speaker, JBL Digital 10 Subwoofer|