Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World: One-Disc Edition (2003)

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Released 19-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Web Links-Inside Look
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 132:37
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (69:58) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Peter Weir

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Russell Crowe
Paul Bettany
James D'Arcy
Edward Woodall
Chris Larkin
Max Pirkis
Jack Randall
Max Benitz
Lee Ingleby
Richard Pates
Robert Pugh
Richard McCabe
Ian Mercer
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music Iva Davies
Christopher Gordon
Richard Tognetti

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired 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 is the one-disc DVD edition of Peter Weir's film adaptation of Patrick O'Brian's famous series of historic novels. As I wrote originally, "apart from being a wonderful, escapist adventure, Master and Commander has also brilliantly brought a story of humanity, courage, and sacrifice to the screen."

    My original full review of this rousing movie can be found here.

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Transfer Quality


    This is obviously the same transfer as the two-disc DVD edition, and it is wonderful. If possible, this big-screen epic should be enjoyed with the use of a good projector.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is very close to its screening aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

    The sharpness is excellent throughout, and one only has to look at any of the scenes with all the intricate ship's rigging in the foreground and/or background to appreciate this fact. The picture has a fairly high contrast, but the shadow detail is still good. For example, consider the detail in the sunset scene at 19:43. The black level is excellent.

    The whole film recalls the look and feel of 19th century sea-scapes, and traditional British naval art. As such, the colour palette is subtly muted, and often features the strong blue or grey hues of the ocean. The skin tones are accurate.

    Using DVD software, I looked at the largest file on the disc, which contained 23,391 frames (very roughly about 16 minutes) of the DVD. I found an average (and very impressive) bit rate of 7.096 megabits per second. There are many scenes in this movie with fog and/or smoke, two areas where a poorly authored disc reveals its limitations, however there were no problems with MPEG artefacts on this DVD. There were also no problems with film-to-video artefacts.

    The source material is obviously a very recent print, and only a few very small film artefacts are scattered throughout, but they are hardly noticeable.

    There are only English subtitles present on the DVD, and they are accurate.

    This is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 69:58. It is well-placed and not disruptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Both audio options provide a real showcase of the wonders of a discrete audio mix on DVD, and provide an incredibly  immersive viewing experience.

    There are two audio options on this DVD: English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s) and English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s). Both options are excellent in their sound quality and in their ability to place the viewer in the middle of the action at all times. While there is not a great deal to separate the two options, I found that I preferred the dts option for a much stronger presence in the bass.

    About 75% of this film uses looped audio for dialogue, yet despite the extensive use of ADR, the dialogue quality and audio sync are excellent on both audio tracks. Obviously during the thick of battle, a lot of it is unclear and layered, as intended.

    The musical score is provided by a team of composers, including Iva Davies (yes, the Iva Davies of Icehouse), Christopher Gordon, and Richard Tognetti. There is also the clever use of source music, which is often Bach or Mozart. The use of music in this film is very well done, and there are quite a few scenes without dialogue where the music perfectly expresses the character's thoughts and feelings.

    This is an extremely aggressive surround sound mix for both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts formats. The amazing surround presence and activity creates a very immersive viewing experience. The beauty of this type of mix is that it's not just the obvious scenes, like the battle scenes, that provide rear directional effects. For example, consider the wind at 19:43. One can almost feel the cold sea air biting at the back of one's neck. While both formats are described as being "5.1" only, I believe that they could be ES and EX encoded respectively.

   The deep and pounding LFE audio is simply awesome, and absolutely terrifying at times. I'm sure my subwoofer was pushed to new depths throughout. This disc is a real house-rumbler!

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The two-disc edition has a second disc loaded with plenty of genuine extras. However, this version is pretty 'bare-bones' when it comes to extras.


    Animated menus with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Inside Look

    This link merely directs the viewer to a web-site,

R4 vs R1

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

    Master and Commander will be released in a one and two-disc DVD edition in both R1 and R4. R1 consumers can also purchase "full screen" (pan & scan) versions. The comparison below is for the one-disc widescreen edition.

    The Region 4 DVD misses out on:

    The Region 1 DVD misses out on:

    I would still call it pretty even. Although the R1 has a few preview trailers included, personally I would still prefer our R4 version for the superior PAL transfer. In using a projector, and watching a very large projected image, I really do see the difference that PAL's extra resolution provides.


    Master and Commander is a very well-made film that displays a great attention to detail. I found the story absorbing, and the quality of the transfer and discrete audio make this DVD a real home-theatre gem.

    The video quality is excellent.

    The audio quality is also excellent, and the amazing surround presence and activity creates a very immersive viewing experience.

    There are no extras on this one-disc edition.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Brandon Robert Vogt (warning: bio hazard)
Sunday, April 18, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-535, using S-Video output
DisplayGrundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationSony STR DE-545
SpeakersSony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
This movie is a cow - mooos AVOID IT AT ALL COSTS! - cztery
Greg is full of it. - cztery
Why is the one disc version more expensive? - Damien (biotech is godzilla)