Octopussy: Special Edition (1983)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Inside Octopussy (DD2.0, 4:3, 33:08 minutes)
Featurette-Designing Bond-Peter Lamont (DD2.0, 4:3, 20:59 minutes)
Audio Commentary-John Glen (Director)
Storyboards-The Taxi Chase, Bond Rescues Octopussy (DD2.0, 4:3, 6:54)
Music Video-All Time High (DD2.0, 2.00:1, 4x3, 3:07 minutes)
|Year Of Production||1983|
|Running Time||125:09 (Case: 124)|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (111:39)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||John Glen|
Twentieth Century Fox
Kristina Wa Yborn
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Auto Pan & Scan Encoded||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Seiko and Sony, as usual|
|Action In or After Credits||Yes|
Of course the film begins with another Bond tradition - the pre-credit sequence - which consists in this case of a fun demonstration of the world's smallest jet-engined piloted plane that has nothing to do with the rest of the film. The real story begins in East Berlin as secret agent 009 tries to escape to the West with a jewel-encrusted egg that he's stolen from the bad guys. He's ultimately killed in the attempt, but not before he gets the egg to the British embassy. This sets James Bond (Roger Moore) on the trail to discover who killed his fellow agent. Before the story moves on any further, however, the involvement of at least a renegade part of the Soviet army in the proceedings is revealed, although to what end is not yet known.
The trail quickly leads to India and a particularly nasty smuggler in the shape of Kamal (Louis Jourdan) and his bodyguard Gobinda (Kabir Bedi), a sort of Indian "Jaws". They're accompanied by Magda (the lovely Kristina Wayborn) and are clearly involved in some fashion with Octopussy, although her identity and role also aren't yet revealed. After spending an evening with Magda, Bond is captured by Kamal and imprisoned in his summer palace. This, of course, provides the first opportunity to use some of Q's gadgets to not only make an escape, but to eavesdrop on Kamal and the Soviet General Orlov (Steven Berkoff) to see what they're up to.
After an hour of film time the allure of Octopussy and her island palace full of gorgeous women proves too much for Bond and his visit there finally introduces her to the audience. Although she is head of a jewel smuggling syndicate that includes Kamal, she proves to be an ally and protector of Bond. An attempt on their lives by Kamal's henchmen causes their separation - she to East Germany with her circus and a load of jewels and he in pursuit trying to determine what the Russians and Kamal have planned. After a great chase and fight scene on the circus train, a high speed road chase through West Germany, Bond joining the circus as a clown and plenty of shooting, the conspirators' plot is discovered. I won't reveal it here, but will Bond survive the bomb blast? (CLUE: he's back in the next film.) The remainder of the film sees Bond, Octopussy and Q (in his first ever operational role) heading back to India to deal with Kamal. This provides an excuse for one last great stunt scene in, and on, a plane high over the ground, before the film closes in the traditional way, i.e. in bed with Bond and his leading lady.
This is only a very brief summary of the story and it skips most of the action and thrills of the film. Roger Moore's version of James Bond is often criticized because of its cocktail bar image of the great spy. While not totally eliminating the tongue-in-cheek characteristic, he certainly does get far more physical here. The humour is also a little more refined and concentrated. In that regard, the casting of Vijay Armitraj as the local British agent was wonderful since it allows all sorts of tennis gags to be built in without diverting the story. The settings in India are truly romantic while references to East Germany and the Berlin Wall provide the gritty reality that supports the spy theme. I think it provides the sort of mixture that Ian Fleming originally intended in his stories. While not comparing with modern action blockbusters in terms of special effects and stunts, I still think this is more than a respectable episode in the Bond franchise.
I have to admit being a little disappointed with the picture on this disc. Not because it's a really bad image, but because I don't think it quite matches up to the extremely high standard set by the other Bond discs I've viewed to date. By any standards the image is very attractive but, in common with most films of this age, it lacks real crispness. Minor grain is noticeable from the opening scene and partly explains the slight picture softness. There is always a lot to look at, whether it be internal or external scenes, action or drama oriented, and I think it's because of this that the picture clarity really doesn't offend much at all. Shadow detail suffers more than general picture clarity, and I suspect this is also a symptom of the film's age. There is no low level noise at any point.
As we've come to expect from this series, colour reproduction is excellent. The result is realism, if slightly subdued, with few cases of fully saturated colours. Facial colourings are similarly life-like, but the graininess mentioned above detracts marginally.
In the main the transfer is pretty pleasing. However one aspect that warrants special comment because of its severe nature is the amount of aliasing that virtually scars the entire film. Having read the reviews for Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me, this seems to be a common trait amongst some of the current batch of Bond releases, and I add my strong dissatisfaction with it. The aliasing affects everything, down to Roger Moore's eyes, and is highly intrusive. The worst example in this film occurs at 39:49 when the entire image appears to break down into an orgy of shimmering. I suspect that anyone with a progressive scan player and monitor might avoid this problem, but for most of us poor mortals this is a very unfortunate characteristic of the transfer.
Film artefacts are minor and predominantly consist of small white scratch marks. These are of virtually no concern on an otherwise pristine print.
The disc is RSDL formatted with the layer change occurring at 111:39 (as in the case of other recent Bond films, very late in the film) but is quite cleverly done, in a dark external scene where the slight pause is hardly even visible.
In spite of this, being a big budget film means that the sound is pretty good. The dialogue is always clear, although there are a few obvious cases of looping that get through. Probably as a by-product of this is a very short case at 25:52 where the dialogue completely parts company from the mouth - perhaps the producers didn't like what was being said and thought they'd change it at the last throw.
I've already referred to the music, composed by John Barry (of course) with the song (unusually excluding the film's title in its lyrics) sung by Rita Coolidge. In a word, the music is wonderful, and perfectly captures the larger-than-life romance portrayed by the film.
The biggest problem with the soundtrack stems from its format - the surround-encoded 2.0 mix is largely unable to provide an enveloping audio field. As a result, most of the sound is based in the front, albeit with a reasonably wide soundstage. Occasional effects are directed to the surround speakers, but if more general atmospheric effects are there then they're too low to be of much use. Similarly, the subwoofer gets pretty limited attention, with the front speakers being asked to do most of the work.
|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)|