The Little Princess (MRA) (1939) (NTSC)
Featurette-Dora's Dunking Doughnuts
Featurette-Kid' In' Africa
|Year Of Production||1939|
|Running Time||92:39 (Case: 91)|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Walter Lang|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
To reveal any more of the plot would ruin the film for those who are yet to watch it for the first time. Suffice it to say that there are several quite moving scenes spread throughout the film.
Film artefacts are virtually a fact of life in a film of this age, but the remarkable thing about this transfer is that while scratches and other marks are ever-present they were far less intrusive than I expected. It is presented in a fullscreen 1.33:1 ratio which is essentially the same as its original ratio which I believe was 1.37:1. It is recorded using the NTSC broadcast standard and hence cannot be played on a PAL-only TV.
The film was photographed in Technicolor and, along with other such films of this vintage, it appears to have a lush colour palette. I can only guess at how lush that was because the DVD was clearly mastered from a rather poor NTSC video copy. All of the tell-tale signs of this are evident throughout the film - colour bleeding, lack of colour consistency, low level noise (this is so bad in a particularly dark scene at the 65 minute mark that it almost totally obliterates the image), poor picture resolution and, to top it all off, an analogue tape tracking error at 22:50.
Probably as a combined result of the age of the film and the NTSC, the image is never sharp. All edges are fuzzy to one degree or another, although this has been offset by minor edge enhancement. Under the circumstances, this enhancement is probably sensible. The nature of the original film stock means that shadow detail is poor, although clearly that is not meant as a criticism of the DVD transfer itself. Most of the film was set indoors, so low level noise was not an issue except as noted above.
Colour stability was poor, and appeared to me to be a fault in the film print. The set design typically used quite muted colours but vibrant costuming offset this. At times, skin tones were quite natural but at other times they appeared marginally oversaturated. Whether this was a feature of the film itself, the NTSC video master or a deliberate addition at the transfer stage can't be judged. I have already referred to the presence of film artefacts. The print from which the master was taken had its share of scratches and other various coloured specks, but all things considered it is relatively clean. What appears to be a liquid spill has produced a large and distinctive blotch on two successive frames at 16:14. Reel change marks are visible at 20 minute intervals, although interestingly there is only a 16 minute gap between the third and fourth such marks. I wonder if this represents a late cut to the film or whether it was standard practice at that time.
Now for the real problems, and let me tell you, I was absolutely disgusted with them. Firstly, the soundtrack dropped out completely between 1:07 and 1:15 - not a good start. However, what really got me going was an audio sync problem of Olympian magnitude - a one second delay between sight and sound that lasted for over 8 minutes from the 54 minute mark - even extending over a reel change. Taken together with the poor quality of the NTSC video master, it is clear that the makers of this disc didn't give two hoots for the film or its viewers. Didn't they even bother reviewing their efforts before it was sent off to the marketing department? There will be people who love this film, and both they and the original filmmakers have been insulted by this effort.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Richter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)|