King Kong (1976)
Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
|Year Of Production||1976|
|Running Time||128:51 (Case: 130)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (57:45)||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||John Guillermin|
Universal Pictures Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
One of my favourite B-Grade popcorn flicks, Dino De Laurentiis' King Kong (1976) has finally made it to DVD. The perfect blend of summer blockbuster and tongue-in-cheek adventure, King Kong easily towers above many other B-Grade delights with its timeless and touching tale of unrequited love.
Dino De Laurentiis is one of those love-him or hate-him Hollywood stalwarts, whose career as a producer stretches back into the 1940s. De Laurentiis has produced many of my favourite films, including La Strada (1954), Battle of the Bulge (1965), Serpico (1973), Death Wish (1974), Flash Gordon (1980), Conan the Barbarian (1982), Army of Darkness (1993), and U-571 (2000). Recently, he produced Hannibal (2001) and Red Dragon (2002), and he's currently producing the already-over-hyped Alexander the Great (2006).
King Kong (1976) is but one in a long line of Kong films, which include the very forgettable King Kong vs Godzilla (1962) and King Kong Lives (1986). Based heavily on the original 1933 RKO stop-motion animation classic, King Kong tells a simple, but compelling story:
The film opens with a US Oil Company ship leaving a port in Indonesia, bound for a remote and unexplored island, shrouded in mist and mystery. The island has only recently been discovered by a NASA spy satellite, and the oil company Petrox believes it's an untapped black-gold mine.
The expedition is led by the opportunistic and deliciously dodgy Fred Wilson (brilliantly brought to life by Charles Grodin). However, two unexpected guests soon take centre-stage, stowaway idealistic scientist Jack Prescott (Jeff Bridges), and the lovely Dwan (Jessica Lange), who is rescued from a life raft on the way to the island.
Needless to say, when the ship arrives at the remote island, they discover far more than they bargained for . . .
Overall, the transfer is quite good considering the age of the film.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced.
The sharpness is variable, and some scenes are quite soft, such as at 8:57. The shadow detail also varies, and at times, such as at 80:27, it's very poor.
The colour appears dated, with orange/brown skin-tones and whites having a slight blue/grey tinge.
I did not spot any serious MPEG artefacts, but the transfer is pretty grainy throughout, and at times the amount of film grain is distracting, such as at 60:06. There were no problems with film-to-video artefacts.
As expected, film artefacts appear throughout, and while most are small, some are quite large. Some edge enhancement can also be spotted at times.
There are Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, and Swedish subtitles present on this dual-layered disc. The layer change is placed at 57:45.
Originally released theatrically with Magnetic Stereo, and remixed into Dolby Digital 5.1 for this DVD, the audio retains much of its original Stereo feel.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps) audio track is the only audio option.
The dialogue quality and audio sync are mostly okay, but at times the sync does slip slightly.
The musical score is credited to the great John Barry, and his bombastic and dramatic orchestral style suits the film well. Notably, Barry also scored Zulu (1964), Out of Africa (1985), Dances With Wolves (1990), and provided music for many of the James Bond films.
While the surround presence and activity is quite front-heavy, the rear speakers are used at times, for example during the tribal ceremony at 49:31. Generally it is the score that is piped to the rears.
Surprisingly, the subwoofer gets little use, except for the odd moment such as the very deep bass effect when Kong is walking at 80:40.
|Surround Channel Use|
There are no extras, not even a trailer.
An animated menu with stereo audio.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
King Kong (1976) was released on DVD in Region 1 way back in 1999.
The Region 4 DVD misses out on:
The Region 1 DVD misses out on:
While the R1 has a trailer, the 1999 authored disc reportedly suffers from some MPEG artefacts. We also enjoy a PAL transfer, so I'm going to call it even.
Okay, so there are some plot holes that King Kong (and his family all holding hands) could easily walk through. I, however, am happy to suspend disbelief and enjoy this adventure movie for what it is. The (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) doomed romance and ultimate demise of Kong is still touching, no matter how many times I watch it.
The video quality is good for its age.
The audio quality is also good, albeit quite front-heavy and dated.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-535, using S-Video output|
|Display||Grundig Elegance 82-2101 (82cm, 16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DE-545|
|Speakers||Sony SS-V315 x5; Sony SA-WMS315 subwoofer|