Treasure Island (1950)
|Year Of Production||1950|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Byron Haskin|
Warner Home Video
|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|
|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|
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.
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.
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.
|Surround Channel Use|
Therefore, the Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;
|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)|