Queen-The Making of 'A Night at the Opera' (2005)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Additional Footage-How The Album Got Its Name
Additional Footage-'39 - Brian May
Additional Footage-Half A Sonic Volcano
Additional Footage-Sweet Lady - Hyde Parh 1976
Additional Footage-The Prophet's Song
Additional Footage-Love Of My Life - Brian And Freddie
Additional Footage-Bohemian Rhapsody
Additional Footage-God Save The Queen
Music Video-Entire album on disc two with optional band commentary
|Year Of Production||2005|
|Running Time||49:18 (Case: 100)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Matthew Longfellow|
Eagle Eye Media
Roy Thomas Baker
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (448Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Varies||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In 1974 Queen were an established unit with three albums to their credit and had achieved some international chart success with their single Killer Queen. The problem was, despite their success the band were in dire financial trouble with fingers pointed squarely at their management. Freddie Mercury was most irate, citing tens of thousands in missing wages as well as claiming to have endured gross disrespect at the hands of their management. Elton John's manager was hired to sort out the mess and his first instruction to the band was to "get into the studio and make the best album you've ever made". The result was A Night At The Opera, their most intricately produced and eclectic collection of songs to date. Had it not been a success, it is likely the band would have folded under financial pressure, but the album was a massive success and endures to this day as the group's finest work and a truly seminal seventies rock album.
As with past instalments in the Classic Albums documentary series, this is another superb look behind the making of a truly seminal rock album. Previous titles in this series have focused on other legendary albums such as Deep Purple's Machine Head, Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John. Besides current Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor, the interviewees in this documentary include Gary Lyons, Producer Roy Thomas Baker, Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt and a cross section of journalists and record company executives. There is no contribution from former Queen bass guitarist John Deacon, who has chosen to shun the industry for a number of years now.
This Two Disc Premium Edition is comprised of the Classic Albums documentary on Disc One and the 30th Anniversary DVD Edition of A Night at The Opera on Disc Two. For the purpose of this review, I've treated the second disc as an extra, so it is covered in the Extras section below.
This video transfer is somewhat limited by the age of some of the source material, but the recently captured footage such as the interviews are simply pristine.
The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, complete with 16x9 enhancement. This is consistent with previous instalments in this series.
The producers of this documentary have obviously done their best with the video material that was at hand, and the result is surprisingly good. Much of the old footage has been sourced from analogue videotape and this has been cropped to suit the wider 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Obviously, the level of detail suffers and analogue artefacts are slightly more prominent, but as a whole I was quite pleased with the transfer and didn't feel the slightest bit perturbed by the presence of the older video sources, given their important context.
Most colours are well represented, however there is some smearing and cometing evident in the older analogue footage. Other than these brief issues, the transfer is richly coloured throughout.
MPEG artefacting is nowhere to be seen. As I stated above, there are quite a few instances of artefacting due to analogue sources, but these are welcome inclusions in the documentary.
English subtitles are included on the disc. I viewed most of the feature with subtitles enabled and found them easy to follow, while replicating the dialogue very closely.
This disc is dual layered, however I didn't notice any obvious layer transition, nor can I locate one using my normal software method. It's likely the feature is contained on one side and the extras on the other.
There's only an English Dolby Digital stereo stream included, encoded at 448 Kb/s. There are no real issues of concern here.
The English dialogue is clear and easy to discern at all times, even during the archival footage. Audio sync is perfect.
I was surprised at the consistency in this soundtrack given the array of sources at play. In the space of a few minutes we can move from the studio mixing desk, to an old archival interview, to a brand new interview and then to a live performance without any overly annoying differences in audio volume, depth or quality. It is really testament to the quality of this production and the obvious hard work that has gone into making it.
I didn't notice any pitch-related issues at all.
There is obviously no subwoofer or surround activity on disc one; that shortcoming is more than compensated for on disc two.
|Surround Channel Use|
Disc One: Classic Albums- The Making Of A Night At The Opera
This is an extensive collection of bonus scenes, delving a little deeper into some of the studio anecdotes and technical trickery that made the album's production so unique. We are given some explanation regarding the title of the album, followed by an insight into the band's meeting with Groucho Marx. There are quite a few lengthy musical pieces, including a live performance of Sweet Lady taken from their performance in Hyde Park in 1976. Brian then performs '39 on acoustic guitar and Roger demonstrates some of his trademark drumming techniques. There is also a memorable performance of Love Of My Life; a blend of new footage of Brian on acoustic guitar, mixed with the band in concert at Wembley Arena. I was pleasantly surprised by a contribution from Kenny Everett, who was a radio DJ at the time of the making of this album and was apparently the first to play Bohemian Rhapsody over the air.
All of the extra scenes are presented with the same quality as the main feature, and are 16x9 enhanced.
Disc Two: 30th Anniversary DVD Edition Of A Night At The Opera
The album automatically begins playback (LPCM Stereo) upon insertion of the disc, which is very handy. For the album's introduction, a temporary menu page offers a choice of audio tracks, then disappears once the main piano riff of Death On Two Legs begins. Soundtracks can also be switched on the fly, so there is no need for your display to be operating if all you require is the audio.
The main menu page features a piano-only clip of the album's intro, which I have never heard before. The main menu offers the following options:
The pages are themed around the album artwork and include some beautiful, yet subtle pieces of animation. All of disc two's contents are presented in 1.33:1 full frame.
For the album's thirtieth anniversary, full length video accompaniment has been constructed using material from the Queen archives. Watching this visual presentation of the album, you'll find video footage of the band on stage, still photos and stock film that has been tastefully selected to suit the feel of the songs. The album's two singles are presented with their respective promotional videos. The entire video is presented in 1.33:1 full frame and appears to be an NTSC conversion. The video has also been encoded with a relatively low bitrate (4.5Mb/s) but this disc is really about the audio - the visuals are only intended as an accompaniment I believe.
This disc is DVD9 formatted (dual layered). There is no layer break during the album playback.
As I stated above, the default audio stream for this disc is Stereo Linear PCM (48 kHz, 2304 Kb/s). A superb six channel dts 96 kHz / 24 bit (1536 Kb/s) soundtrack is the alternate option. This is essentially the same surround mix that was presented on the album's DVD-Audio release of 2002. If you're not familiar with this surround mix of the album you're in for a real treat, as the surround experience really offers a unique perspective of the recording's many layers and the depth of production that was involved.
This is a cleverly constructed audio commentary, with newly recorded thoughts from Brian and Roger accompanied by archival audio interviews with John and Freddie. This commentary duplicates some of the anecdotes that can be found on disc one, but is worth a listen.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The video transfer is great.
The audio transfer is fantastic.
The extras are enlightening.
|DVD||Denon DVD-3910, using DVI output|
|Display||Sanyo PLV-Z2 WXGA projector, Screen Technics Cinemasnap 96" (16x9). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete|
|Speakers||Orpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.|