From Russia with Love: Ultimate Edition (1963)

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Released 1-Nov-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Audio Commentary
Credits
Featurette-Ian Fleming & Raymond Chandler
Interviews-Crew-Ian Fleming - The CBS Interview
Featurette-Ian Fleming On Desert lsland Discs
Storyboards-Animated Storyboard Sequence
Featurette-Making Of
Biographies-Crew-Harry Saltzman
Teaser Trailer-Archive
Gallery-Photo-Experience The World In 1963-Year From Russia Was Released
Featurette-007, Women, Allies ,Villians, Mission Combat Manual
Featurette-Q Branch And Exotic Locations
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1963
Running Time 110:16
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Terence Young
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Sean Connery
Daniela Bianchi
Pedro Armendáriz
Lotte Lenya
Robert Shaw
Bernard Lee
Eunice Gayson
Walter Gotell
Francis De Wolff
George Pastell
Nadja Regin
Lois Maxwell
Aliza Gur
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music John Barry
Lionel Bart


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.66:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.66:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Swedish
Finnish
Norwegian
Danish
Greek
Hindi
English Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    In 1961, Life Magazine published a list of President John F. Kennedy’s top ten favourite books. To the surprise of some, the Ian Fleming spy novel From Russia with Love was amongst the titles listed. When producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman were looking for the right book to do a follow up film to the successful Dr. No, From Russia with Love seemed like the obvious choice. While production was not without its problems, such as numerous script rewrites, car and helicopter crashes and even the death of a supporting actor from cancer during the shoot, the result is regarded by many as one of the greatest Bond films ever made, and with good reason too.

    From Russia with Love sees James Bond (Sean Connery) sent to Istanbul to acquire a cipher machine called the Lektor from defecting Russian Agent Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianachi). Tatiana thinks she is doing it for mother Russia but it is in fact the evil organisation S.P.E.C.T.R.E. that are pulling all the strings. S.P.E.C.T.R.E not only wants the cipher machine for themselves, but their ultimate goal is to kill James Bond. Along the way Bond must confront cold-blooded hit man ‘Red’ Grant (Robert Shaw) and ruthless mastermind Rosa Klebb (played to perfection by Lotte Lenya).

    Where later Bond films would embrace over the top action, gadgets and pure escapism, From Russia with Love remained more true to Ian Fleming’s novel as a great spy adventure. The James Bond we see here is not the indestructible super human of our modern day Bonds, which I think really adds to the tension of the film. In From Russia with Love, Bond often seems to be in genuine peril, and it is only through his cunning, ingenuity and gritty determination that he will be able to get through it alive.

    From Russia with Love is not only a great Bond film, it is a great Cold War spy thriller. It introduced Desmond Llewelyn as gadget man Q (although he is referred to simply as the equipment officer) and set the benchmark by which early Bond films were judged. I really enjoyed this film and I am sure most Bond fans will too.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Those who already own From Russia with Love on DVD are probably wondering if this new release is worth upgrading to. The short answer is a definite yes. In fact there is really no comparison. While the original release may have been considered quite good for a film of its age this new transfer is outstanding, regardless of age. Lowry, who have painstakingly restored this film and performed the DVD transfer, have done an absolutely stellar job in producing this truly outstanding transfer.

    The new transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This was the film's original aspect ratio for European exhibition. (It was shown in the slightly more matted aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in the US). Compared to the previous DVD release which was 1.78:1 this new release not only shows slightly more image top and bottom but also very slightly more on the sides as well.

    Image sharpness is extraordinarily impressive for a film of this age and the image detail really is amazing. For example, individual thread patterns on men’s suits are clearly discernable. Regardless of age this is one of the sharpest, most detailed images I have seen on DVD. Shadow detail is well above average for a film of this age and is certainly far superior to what I was expecting. The transfer is free of low level noise.

    The transfer is faithful to the 1960s colour palette of the film. Colours are all well saturated and accurate. Skin tones were generally accurate but with a slight tendency towards orange/brown tones which was typical of films from this era.

    The film is completely free of film artefacts. I looked but could find none. The image is very clean and free of any obvious MPEG artefacts. The only fault I could find was a very small amount of edge enhancement, such as around the outline of some minuets at 30:59 but it is fairly mild and unlikely to be noticed by most viewers.

    The English subtitles are white and easy to read. They match very well with the onscreen dialogue.

    The film is presented on a dual layered disc with RSDL encoding. The layer change occurs at 57:22 which is a cut between scenes - nicely placed.

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

Audio

    Some film buffs will be disappointed to learn that the original mono soundtrack is not available on this DVD. Instead we get two 5.1 soundtracks provided in Dolby Digital and DTS. These new mixes do, however, remain faithful to the feel of the original soundtrack with the mix being very front oriented.

    The two main English soundtracks are a Dolby Digital 5.1 Soundtrack encoded at 448 Kb/s and a DTS Soundtrack encoded at 768 Kb/s. I listened to the soundtrack in its entirety in DTS and did a number of samplings of the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. While the DTS soundtrack was slightly louder than the Dolby Digital Soundtrack, once this was taken into account I was hard pressed to discern any real difference between the two. I think this is a case where the limitation is the original sound elements rather than the audio encoding.

    Dialogue was generally easy to understand although there were some issues with audio sync caused by ADR. This was most noticeable in a scene around the 12 minute mark where there is a running helicopter in the shot and the dubbing just doesn’t match well at all. There were, however, numerous other instances in the film but this was the one that really drew my attention. I do not think this is a fault of the DVD, just the ADR work done on the film at the time.

As mentioned before the soundtrack is very front-oriented with the surrounds being used modestly for atmosphere such as bird noises in a garden at 13:15. It is also used a bit for the music as well as some high action scenes such as an explosion at 61:49.

    The subwoofer was not used much except for some high action scenes such as another explosion at 32:20 where it adds nice weight to the soundtrack.

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

Extras

    This new Ultimate edition combines the extras of the previous Special Edition with new material taken from the archives. While some of these new extras are interesting the most significant features are still those carried over from the previous release.

Menu

    All menus are very nicely animated with familiar Bond music playing in the background.

Disc 1

Audio Commentary – Terence Young (director) and members of the cast and crew.

    This audio commentary was put together by the Ian Fleming Foundation and is hosted by John Corp. It edits together comments by various cast and crew involved in the film who are introduced by John Corp. Corp also provides a fair amount of interesting information as well. Despite the fact that I quite enjoy a good audio commentary I am not normally a fan of these edited together commentaries and this one is no exception. While it contains some interesting information I found it a bit dull and hard going.

Disc 2

    The extras are grouped under four main categories. ‘Declassified M16 Vault’ contains new material secured from the archives. ‘007 Mission Control’ contains links to a large number of scenes from the film categorised into a number of subcategories. ‘Mission Dossier’ consists of featurettes previously available on the original Special Editions. Finally, ‘Department of Propaganda’ contains a collection of trailers, TV spots, radio ads and an image gallery.

   

Declassified: M16 Vault:

Ian Fleming and Raymond Chandler 4x3 (4:58)

    These two authors discuss their creations. The discussion is audio only with animated photos of the two authors. It is interesting to hear Fleming discuss his original vision of the Bond character as well as the similarities between himself and Bond. Well worth a listen.

Ian Fleming: The CBC Interview 4x3 (7:23)

    This item was created by the CBC the week following Fleming’s death in 1964. It begins with a brief biography of Fleming and then continues with an interview where he discusses the books and some of their influences.

Ian Fleming on Desert Island Discs 4x3 (4:58)

    This is primarily a radio interview with a variety of still images of Fleming shown on screen. In this interview Fleming discusses some of his writing processes. This was recorded while From Russia with Love was being filmed. Fleming briefly discusses Dr. No and then his visit to the set of From Russia with Love in Istanbul.

Animated Story Board Sequences 4x3 (1:24)

    This shows animated storyboard sequences for the boat chase scene which was originally conceived as a night scene. The segment finishes with actual footage from the film.

007 Mission Control:

    This section allows you to directly access a number of short scenes from the movie sorted into the categories of 007, Women, Allies, Villains, Mission Combat Manual, Q Branch and Exotic Locations. I guess if you have certain favourite parts of the film you might find this useful but I personally think it is of little appeal.

Mission Dossier:

Inside From Russia with Love 4x3 (33:43)

    This interesting featurette narrated by Patrick Macnee charts the production of the film. It includes reminiscences from cast and crew. The shooting of the film was not entirely smooth and included numerous script rewrites, car crashes, helicopter crashes and even the death of actor Pedro Armendáriz from cancer during the film's production. One thing I found particularly interesting was some of the creative editing of Peter Hunt that contributed greatly to the structure of the film.

Harry Saltzman: Showman 4x3 (26:43)

    Harry Saltzman was one of the producers of the first nine James Bond films. In this featurette friends and colleagues discuss his work and life. This is quite an interesting look at one of the men instrumental in bringing James Bond to the big screen.

Ministry of Propaganda:

Theatrical Archive

    This is a collection of theatrical trailers.

TV Broadcasts

    This is a collection of short TV spots.

Radio Communication

    These are audio only commercials made for radio.

Image Database

    This is a collection of still galleries categorized by: The Filmmakers, Ian Fleming, Portraits, Pinewood, Dressed to Kill, Lovely...Lovely, Tatiana Meets Rosa Klebb, Istanbul, The Gypsy Camp, The Orient Express, Scotland, Rats!, Back Projection, Smoke on the Water, The Lost Scene and Around the World With 007.

R4 vs R1

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

I was unable to confirm specific details of the R1 ultimate edition but I would expect it to be same with the exception of the normal PAL/NTSC formatting differences.

Summary

    From Russia with Love is one of the most beloved of the early Bond films and with good reason. Not only is it a great Bond film, it is a fantastic Cold War spy thriller in its own right.

    The new video transfer is simply outstanding. The audio transfers are very good but a bit limited by the sources.

    The extras package is extensive although the most significant of them are those carried over from the previous Special Edition.

There is an Official Distributor Comment available for this review.
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Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Michael Gauntlett (read my bio if you're bored.)
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVPNS575-S Progressive Scan, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic PT-AE900E HD LCD Projector onto 90" 16x9 Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderLogitech 5500 THX. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationLogitech 5500 THX
SpeakersLogitech 5500 THX

Other Reviews NONE
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