Treasure Island (1950)

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Released 14-Jul-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Family None
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1950
Running Time 91:55
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Byron Haskin
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Bobby Driscoll
Robert Newton
Basil Sydney
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $36.95 Music Clifton Parker


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Dutch
Greek
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Fifteen men on the dead man's chest –
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

    Treasure Island is Robert Louis Stevenson's classic story of pirates' treasure and rollicking adventure on the high seas. It has provided vividly real storytelling for generations, and has been one of my favourite books as far back as I can remember. In fact, the copy I'm re-reading right now was given to my father way back in 1943.

    Set in the 18th century, the story is essentially a tale told in the first person by Jim Hawkins (Bobby Driscoll), the son of an innkeeper in western England. The former crew of the now dead Captain Flint, a renowned and feared pirate, arrive at the inn seeking Billy Bones (Finlay Currie) who was once a pirate himself and is the owner of Flint's map showing the location of a vast hidden treasure. That map falls into the hands of Jim and after he seeks the help of Squire Trelawney (Walter Fitzgerald) and Dr Livesey (Denis O'Dea) the three set off to charter a ship and go in search of the treasure. They cross paths with Long John Silver (Robert Newton), also a former member of Flint's crew, but giving the appearance of leading an honest life in Bristol. He signs up for duty on the ship as cook and manages to get many of his old shipmates along with his own ideas of mutinying and seizing the treasure.

    Jim discovers the pirates' plans while still at sea, and this allows the officers and the honest members of the crew to prepare for the inevitable battle and ultimately to secure the pirates' booty.

    There is no way that I can reproduce the flavour of the action as described by Stevenson, who was a master story teller and has created here an exciting boys' own tale. Being Disney's first live action adventure film, you can feel the enthusiasm that went into its making - it's like visiting The Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland all over again - and I can well imagine old Walt himself taking great pains to ensure that the film lived up to his own boyhood imagination. Indeed, the film was to carry with it the reputation of Walt Disney and his studio, and the production doesn't disappoint. The casting, in particular, is almost perfect, with Robert Newton not only nailing the role of Silver but also having a ball of a time along with it. The only aspect that grated was the American accent coming out of the mouth of Jim Hawkins. (I couldn't find the English, as opposed to the American soundtrack anywhere on this DVD.) If I was pedantic, which clearly I'm not, I would point out that the Hispaniola is described in the book as a schooner while the film presents it as a bark. That probably appealed more to Walt Disney's vision of a pirate ship.

    Watch for Geoffrey Wilkinson as Ben Gunn as he plays the prototype for the hermit character from The Life of Brian.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    For a 50 year old film the quality of the image here is more than pleasing. Although film scratches are evident from the very first frame, I must admit that in many places I searched unsuccessfully to find any. No doubt this reflects the value that the Disney studio has always placed upon its film assets and the resultant care applied to their storage.

    The film is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is never exactly sharp, although somebody sure had a pretty good time adding edge enhancement to many scenes. Several instances of this virtually jump out at the viewer. I was expecting to report that shadow detail was poor, and in truth it certainly can't compete with modern film stock in this regard. However, I kept finding a surprising amount of detail in many low light images. The general exception to this was in the numerous instances where night-time was simulated by filming with a closed aperture during daylight hours. Aaarrgghh. You can kiss goodbye to any sort of detail resolution when this is done. Low level noise was never apparent.

    The colour palette perhaps most clearly betrays the film's age. Reds and browns dominate throughout, extending to face colouration in many cases (young Jim is the exception here, as if the DoP wanted to enhance the boyhood innocence of the character). There is also more than a hint on occasion of colour and luminance instability, which is most definitely a result of the film's age. Having said that, several location shots (on land and at sea) and costumes reveal perfectly rich blues and greens without any colour bleeding or chroma noise, so I can't really complain too much.

    There were no MPEG artefacts, and no other type of artefacts other than those already referred to. All in all, this disc seems to do an extremely competent job of presenting the picture pretty much as it was made.

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

Audio

    There is not a great deal to get excited about in this 50 year old mono audio track. I listened to the default English track and sampled part of the German track. The disc also offers French as a further option. Don't go looking for any great dynamic range with this film, because it was never meant to be there. Audio pops and assorted other noise is present in the English track but is generally trivial and certainly doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the film. A single more noticeable tracking noise appeared at 87:04 but even that wouldn't cause the viewer any great difficulty. The German track hasn't been quite so lucky and has appreciably more noise in it, at least for the several minutes that I listened to.

    Dialogue is always clear and it is worth a viewing just to hear Long John Silver belting out his lines in his inimitable West Country/sailor accent. No sync problems were detected throughout. The music is pretty standard fare, entirely forgettable, but reacting acceptably to the on-screen action. The subwoofer could just about have been turned off, but did pipe in to provide minor support for the odd cannon and pistol shot.

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

Extras

    You get a menu, and a box to put the disc in, and…well, just enjoy the story.

R4 vs R1

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

    This DVD doesn't seem to have been released in R1 as yet.

    Therefore, the Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

Summary

    This isn't a DVD to wow your friends and annoy your neighbours with, but if you want an hour and a half of Sunday afternoon entertainment for you and your family, then this is worth taking a look at. After all, Walt Disney decided that this, of all the adventure stories in existence, should be the one to inaugurate his foray into the world of live action adventure movies.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Murray Glase (read my bio)
Wednesday, October 18, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output
DisplayPioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-D906S
SpeakersRichter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)

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