The War of the Worlds (1953)
|Year Of Production||1953|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Programme|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Byron Haskin|
Paramount Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (64Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The plot is simple and will be familiar to most. A night time comet and subsequent explosion are found to be due to a flaming meteorite which lands outside a quiet mid-west American town. Investigated initially by the locals, including the pastor, help is soon sought from a group of Pacific Tech scientists camped nearby on a fishing trip. Notable scientist Dr Clayton Forrester, played by Gene Barry, soon discovers the meteorite is radioactive and having made sure it is properly secured by a trio of local yokels adjourns to the evening square dance accompanied by the local sweetheart and Science Teacher, Sylvia van Buren played by Ann Robinson. The evening's entertainment is brought to a premature halt when the power fails, watches stop at the same time and the night-time darkness is lit only by an eerie glow coming from the location of the fallen meteorite. Investigation of the crash site the following day reveals the powdered outlines of the three men left to guard the site and the first sighting of the Martian machine and invincible Heat-Ray leads to a hasty call to the military and rapid deployment of America's finest to surround and quash the invaders.
The film was shot in 1:33:1 and is presented in the same full-screen aspect ratio.
The transfer is surprisingly clean and presented in a slightly soft focus characteristic of films of this era. This has a rather pleasing pastel effect on the colours, especially skin tones. Much of the film is shot in low-light and there is a good level of shadow detail. Low level noise is infrequent and hard to spot - one example is in the lamp at 25:57.
Colours were slightly muted with a tinge of sepia probably as a result of aging of the film stock. The transfer was good with no evident chroma noise or blurring.
There were very few MPEG artefacts. There was mild pixelization, only visible on the large screen, on the buildings at 38:55 and aliasing was almost non-existent (mildly seen around the alien search probe at 16:20). As would be expected in a film of this age, film artefacts are common with very fine black flecks throughout the film. These seem to have been largely cleaned up and weren't obtrusive apart from inset archival footage of aerial shots at 37:19 and 37:49. There was a hair seen at 41:00 and reel change markings were evident throughout the film - examples are at 38:35, 57:20 and 74:38.
There are no less than 12 languages available in subtitles. The English subtitles were mostly accurate but occasionally were a little on the abbreviated side.
The disc was single layered and thus no layer transition was evident.
The dialogue was very clear and in both audio versions directed principally to the centre speaker. There was some lag in the audio synch although this did not detract from the film.
The musical accompaniment to the film is credited to Leith Stevens and as the film is dialogue-heavy, this is mostly supportive of the action sequences, sounding similar to many Westerns' scores.
The front main and surrounds were mostly very quiet and sprang to life in a limited though worthwhile fashion only during the action sequences. It took some time of careful listening to be able to distinguish between the surround and mono versions. The first major confrontation with the aliens starting at 37:19 demonstrates nice panning effects of alien shots and some background explosions of the assembled artillery.
The subwoofer was not supported throughout the film and unless you have it hard wired into your front mains or LFE ported from your processor it will remain silent.
|Surround Channel Use|
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 video quality is good considering the age of the film.
The audio quality is satisfactory with the surround encoded Dolby Digital 2.0 track being a worthwhile enhancement. For the purists, the original (restored) mono track makes for interesting (though lacklustre) listening and illustrates how far movie soundtracks have come.
Aside from the storyline, fans of military history and hardware will undoubtedly find much of interest in the field artillery and World War archival footage as well as a glimpse of life in LA in the early Fifties.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-900E, using RGB output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T50W1 (127cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon ACV-A1SE. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Amplification||Theta Digital Intrepid|
|Speakers||ML Aeon front. B&W LRC6 Centre. ML Script rear. REL Strata III SW.|