Raid on Rommel (1971)

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Released 13-Nov-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category War Menu Animation & Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 93:59
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Henry Hathaway
Studio
Distributor

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Richard Burton
John Colicos
Clinton Greyn
Wolfgang Preiss
Danielle De Metz
Karl-Otto Alberty
Christopher Cary
John Orchard
Brook Williams
Greg Mullavy
Ben Wright
Michael Sevareid
Chris Anders
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Hal Mooney


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This review is dedicated to my grandfather Private Richard (Dick) J.H.E. **** and other brave men who have fought for our country.

    Richard, or Dick as he was known to his mates, rarely talked about the war. As a little kid it always seemed to me such an exciting subject. It was only as I started to grow that I learnt it was a far cry from playing "war games" with the mates around the yard knowing that your stick gun only hurt when you were whacked with it.

    There were a few times when he did discuss the subject, and these times still stick vividly in my mind. This was usually over a beer and rum when I had obviously grown up enough to talk about from one adult to another. The most surprising thing was that he held Rommel with such high regard. Here was a man that fought against Rommel as a Desert Rat, trekking all over Africa hunting Rommel down only to praise him all these years later. Granddad would say there were a few times we had the "bugger" pinned down, or on the run, when he would miraculously refuel his tanks and come straight back to clobber us. This respect was largely due to his professionalism as a soldier and apparent disregard for the politics of war which is something that was to ultimately become Rommel's demise.

    Richard Burton is an actor whose past is probably more exciting that the movie itself. A a few days before shooting for this movie began on June 28th 1969, Elizabeth Taylor flew to San Ellipse (Mexico) to be with her husband whom she had recently remarried. At around the same time Burton wrote in his diary before shooting began; "Two more days before I go to Mexico. Tales I hear of the place - San Felipe - are not too encouraging. Mean temp 113. Only two restaurants. Population 800. Shark-infested waters. Hurricane season. Only 33 beds in the whole town for visitors, most people living in caravan trailers and tents. No telephone. Only expert pilots can land there. Otherwise OK." I get the impression he didn't like it much but I guess the $1,000,000 pay cheque eased some of that pain.

    Peter O'Toole and Burton both hold an equal record of 7 Oscar nominations without winning the award at all. It must have been gut-wrenching to be put through this process so many times only to miss out at the final stage. He also starred or featured in a large number of movies in the war genre. Some of my personal favourites are: Wild Geese, Where Eagles Dare, The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, The Longest Day, and The Desert Rats. Burton died on Sunday, August 5 1984 which was a few days before he was supposed to begin shooting Wild Geese II.

    Well, I guess you would like to know something about the movie, so it goes like this. The movie is set during 1943, after 3 years of fierce desert warfare where Rommel's strategic use of Panzer divisions has forced the Allied forces into an almost untenable position. In order to even the odds, a small team of well trained men are sent in to cause chaos behind enemy lines in preparation for the Allied attack. They are to be intentionally taken as prisoners of war so that they can get close to the enemy and await the second team. Captain Alex Foster (Richard Burton) and his team are sent separately to meet up and, in the guise of German soldiers, enable the preparation attacks to begin. The hitch is the first team is transferred, leaving Foster and his gang to carry out their orders at all costs and against insurmountable odds.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Considering the age of the movie it contains quite a good quality video transfer.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The sharpness level changes depending on the depth of photography. Long distance shots are soft and sometimes hazy but close up images are quite clean and sharp to some extent. Some of this haze in the distance can be attributed to a heat shimmer but at times it appears to go beyond this natural cause. Shadow detail is never a problem with good natural lighting being abundant in the shooting location. Indoor or should I say "in-tent" shots are extremely rare but they too contain no issues. There is some low level noise.

    Colour is bland, with no bright or richly saturated colours, but as bright uniforms were not common during WWII this does not really present a problem to the viewer. It does appear to have a little less colour information than I would have expected to have been shot on the day. This could be due more to age of the film rather than a specific issue related to the transfer to DVD.

    There were no MPEG artefacts, which is a pleasant surprise. Aliasing is very rare and was mild in the few instances where it did occur. Film artefacts are the big killer for this movie and there are plenty of them. To make matters worse the majority are white in colour which makes them stand out even more than the more common black variety. The consolation is after the first 30 minutes they become less noticeable against the sand dunes.

    The only subtitles are in English and they are close to the spoken word but not exact.

    This is a single layer disc so therefore there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There is only one audio track on this disc and it is English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times with no hiss or other anomalies. Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    The musical score is typical of other war movies of the era. It neither excites nor impresses but does the job adequately. The volume levels did not drown out the dialogue at any point during the movie.

    The surround channels were used for music and mild directional effects. Considering this was originally a mono soundtrack the enhancements were done with taste and definitely provide an audible benefit.

    The subwoofer is not used by this soundtrack.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    There are no extras.

Menu

    The menu design is themed around the movie. It is 16x9 enhanced. The main menu features an animated clip with Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded audio. The scene selection menu provides motion clips from each scene rather than a static picture, which is always a nice touch.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:     Region 4 wins this challenge hands down with a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround-encoded soundtrack.

Summary

    This is still an enjoyable movie after all this time. It is not as high on the list as some others from the war genre but something that can enjoy multiple viewings.

    The biggest issue with the video is to do with film artefacts. It would have been great to see these cleaned up before the transfer but this would no doubt been at a considerable cost to the consumer.

    The audio quality together with its surround encoding provides an enjoyable experience.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Monday, March 08, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDDenon DVD-1600, using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Aconda 9381ZW. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersWhatmough Classic Series C31 (Mains); C06 (Centre); M10 (Rears); Magnat Vector Needle Sub25A Active SubWoofer

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