|Category||Drama||Documentary - The Making Of A Night
To Remember (61:11)
Theatrical Trailers (2)
Biographies - Cast
|Running Time||117:44 minutes|
Roadshow Home Entertainment Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English (Dolby Digital 3.0 L-C-R, 320 Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
There really is not much point providing a plot synopsis, as arguably the worst maritime disaster of all time is surely such a subject that no one would be unaware of the circumstances as to why the R.M.S. Titanic has become the focus of so much attention since that fateful morning of 15th April, 1912 when the ship slid beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Suffice it to say, Iceberg 1, Big Steel Ship 0.
Where does one begin about describing this magnificent film? This really is the most definitive film yet made about the disaster and was brought to the screen almost as a labour of love by all those involved. The original book upon which the film was based - A Night To Remember by Walter Lord - was noteworthy for the efforts that went into tracking down survivors for their memories about that fateful night in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. That attention to detail was carried over into the film itself through a superbly condensed screenplay from Eric Ambler that almost strips the whole film down to a documentary. Several survivors of the disaster were engaged as technical advisors for the film, adding further attention to detail to the film. The producer William MacQuitty was blessed in his creation of the team to make this film, led by director Roy Baker. Across the board there is quality here that is so characteristically British. The superb cast, which actually displays some acting ability, unlike James Cameron's mob, is headed by Kenneth More in one of his more memorable roles. However, just about every little cameo of a role here is handled well, and credit is due to Roy Baker and his team for this. One of the great stumbling blocks of the James Cameron film was to me the rather ordinary special effects that never convinced me that this was the R.M.S. Titanic steaming across the Atlantic to its doom. Despite the forty years of improvements in special effects I found the effects here at least as convincing as those from James Cameron's film. Sure they are still not entirely convincing but those forty years give this film a lot more leeway than the piece of rubbish gets.
If you really want romantic subplots and rubbish acting from the likes of Leonardo De Crapio, then you would be strongly advised to give this film the big miss. If you want a film that genuinely makes an effort to tell the real story of the R.M.S. Titanic, then this is definitely the film that you will be watching for years to come. I have lost count of the number of times I have watched this film over the last thirty-five years, but this is how you define great, classic films, and a film of this stature has been given a generally very good transfer considering the age of the material.
A Night To Remember is a very, very welcome issue from Roadshow Home Entertainment which I only hope is a harbinger of further issues of classic British films from the long gone and sadly lamented Rank Organization, amongst others.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and it is 16x9 enhanced. There appears to be some divergence of opinion as to the original aspect ratio of the film on theatrical release. However, the usually authoritative Widescreen Review indicates that the theatrical aspect ratio is 1.66:1 as does The Criterion Collection. Given the age of the film and the source of the film, I am tempted to suggest that 1.66:1 is the correct aspect ratio. However, having watched The Criterion Collection version of the film, I am still undecided as to which looks to be the correct framing for the film. It is also noteworthy that the DVD is encoded with Auto Pan & Scan information, so your DVD player needs to be set up correctly in order to play the widescreen version of the film.
Whilst there are inevitable lapses in a film of this sort of age, this is generally a good transfer. However you should note that interior filming done on sets is distinctly better in quality than that done in exteriors, which is again better than those shots involving special effects work - predominantly miniatures. The overall quality varies between being acceptable and being very good and the transfer displays good sharpness and definition. Detail is good to very good, with shots of areas like the boiler room being especially well detailed. Shadow detail is at times a little marginal but this is a reflection of the age of the film more than anything else. The filming involving effects work has a consistent hint at slight grain, but otherwise there is no problem with grain and this is in general quite a clear transfer. There is nothing much in the way of low level noise problems here. I was more than a little surprised by the overall quality of the transfer.
Naturally when approaching a forty-odd year old film, there are some reservations as to what to expect as far as the black and white colours go. The first few minutes of the film, involving the launching of the ship and Second Officer Lightoller travelling by train to Belfast, set those reservations aside with relative ease. Sure there are the odd lapses in the quality of the grey tones, but in general this demonstrates a nice tonal depth to the blacks and gradation of the grey tones that results in a very decent looking film. Whilst just a little more brightness in the whites would not have gone astray, there really is not much about the colours on offer here that I have serious complaint about.
I have always been reasonably impressed by The Criterion Collection release of this film on DVD, but this is perhaps even better in my view. There is nothing here that hints at an MPEG artefact at all as far as I can see, and the only film-to-video artefacts present are so trivial as to result in extreme pedantism to even mention them. This is the chief difference with The Criterion Collection release of the film, which does display some problems - right from the moiré artefacting seen in the sequence in the train. Naturally enough there is a fair dosage of film artefacts here, but certainly nothing more than would be expected in a film of this age, and nothing too much that is really grossly distracting to the enjoyment of the film.
The DVD is a Dual Layer
formatted effort presumably since I did not note any layer change during
the film. The Region 2 release is apparently a dual sided DVD, with the
film on one side and the extras on the other, so I am presuming that the
Roadshow Home Entertainment mastering has seen these two elements transferred onto
individual layers of this DVD.
The dialogue comes up clear enough and easy to understand in the transfer. There is no significant problem with audio sync in the transfer.
The music score comes from the grossly neglected British classical composer William Alwyn, and in general is a nicely supportive soundtrack, albeit lacking just a bit in originality and distinction. It would have been interesting to have this on an isolated music score, but alas that opportunity has not been taken.
Perhaps the one minor disappointment with the film
is the slightly underwhelming soundtrack. I would have thought that even
a 3.0 mono soundtrack would have had a little more presence than this.
Perhaps I have been spoilt by The Criterion Collection soundtrack which
to my mind has a lot brighter sound to it than this effort. At times the
sound does get just a little muddy, but nothing that is really too distracting
in any way. Naturally you can forget the bass channel and the rear surround
channels here completely. Thankfully the soundtrack is free of any serious
distortion or damage and despite the slightly underwhelming sound, this
is a more than serviceable soundtrack overall.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
26th November 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|