Krakatoa, East of Java (1969) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1969|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Bernard L Kowalski|
Beyond Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (384Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.62:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.20:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Krakatoa, in case you don't know, was a volcanic island in Indonesian waters which ceased to exist one day when its dormant volcano erupted violently. The force of the explosion has been estimated as significantly greater than any nuclear weapon man has created. This film is set at a time immediately before that eruption.
The movie concerns a ship called the Batavia Queen, and the people aboard. Captain Hanson (Maximilian Schell) has assembled an interesting team to search for the wreck of a ship called the Arianna: he has a father and son balloonist team to look into shallow water, a diving bell expert to search deep water, a team of pearl divers (Japanese women) and a deep water diving suit man. These people believe themselves to be searching for the Arianna because it has valuable pearls on board. The captain and his mysterious female companion seem to have other ideas.
The Batavia Queen is an interesting vessel: steam powered, but with a forward mast carrying square-rigged sails and a triangular jib. The exact year is not stated, but it appears to be around 1883.
Things are made more complicated when the captain is forced to take aboard 30 convicts en route to a prison island, and even more complicated when it becomes clear that the deep sea diver has serious health problems, plus an addiction to laudanum (a medicine based on opium - Coleridge was reputed to have used it).
They do find the Arianna, at the bottom of the sea just off the shore of Krakatoa, despite some misadventures. They manage to retrieve the safe from the ship, and then things get really interesting...
This film was made using an unusual process called Cinerama. This was an extremely wide process, using three strips of film projected side-by-side. They used this to their advantage during the credits, showing different footage in each of the three sections. Once the film begins they show nothing but a single image across. The image we get is in an aspect ratio of about 2.62:1, not the 1.85:1 that the cover claims. One bit of bad news is that this disc is not 16x9 enhanced - an image this wide should be 16x9 enhanced as a matter of course. Note that this transfer is presented in NTSC, so your equipment will need to be compatible with NTSC in order to correctly display it. (Ed. The history of Cinerama is a complex and fascinating one - here is a good place to start reading. Make sure you allow plenty of time...)
That's not the only bad news, though. It looks very much as though this DVD has been made from a widescreen VHS master, which in turn was made from a display print which had been cropped, so we get the interlacing artefacts and low resolution of the VHS master, coupled with the film artefacts (including reel change markings) of the display print.
The picture is blurry, due mostly to the low resolution of the VHS master used. Shadow detail is quite limited. There is, however, surprisingly little low level noise.
Colour is quite strong, and smoothly graduated, although colours drop off to black a bit more quickly than I'd like. It is not fully saturated, but is reasonable.
There are lots of artefacts to be seen. We have simple film artefacts, in large and small sizes; amongst these we have a large watermark covering almost a quarter of the frame at 15:29, big black spots at 22:05, a blue circle in the middle of the frame at 44:10, and a large yellow pizza slice shaped artefact at 58:27. We have some really ugly reel change markings in white scribble at 22:00, although the reel change markings vary quite a bit - almost as though this transfer was taken from a variety of reels, each with different markings. But the film artefacts are less annoying than the interlacing artefacts. These look like aliasing, but are more pronounced. Any scene with motion in it exhibits interlacing artefacts quite badly. In fact, aliasing is one of the least of our problems.
There a quite a few frames missing from the film - perhaps they are the result of repairs to the display print used. The picture and soundtrack jump at these points. Some of the largest jumps are to be found at 41:04, 41:29, 53:12, and 55:18.
There are no subtitles, which is a shame - I would have appreciated having them, to clear up some of the doubts about what was being said.
The disc is single-sided and single-layered. That means no layer change.
This documentary has a single soundtrack, in English (even though it is not coded as English - it displays as "other"). It is Dolby Digital 2.0, but there's no stereo separation - I judge it to be mono. The soundtrack has limited dynamic range, and fairly severe hiss, pop and crackle. In an attempt to counteract, perhaps, they have mastered this soundtrack quite loud, resulting in distortion of loud sounds. I recommend turning the volume down a bit before you start this disc, especially because the Simitar logo that starts the disc has extremely loud noise accompanying it. Around half an hour in, there is an ear-splitting squeal (like a jet engine) for many seconds - it is part of the film, perhaps meant to be steam escaping from Krakatoa, but it is hard on the ears. There is a lot of distortion around the 36 to 37 minute mark, during the laudanum hallucinations. There's horrible crackle around the one hour mark, during the diving bell mishap.
The dialogue is generally easy to understand. There are some audio sync problems, but they are small, and insignificant in context. There's a Foley error where the balloonists launch a flare, and we hear the sound of a gun shot.
The score is credited to De Vol, but the song music and lyrics are credited to Mack David. The score is fairly loud and annoying. The songs are fairly negligible.
The soundtrack gives nothing to the surrounds or subwoofer.
|Surround Channel Use|
The menus are static and silent. They are organised badly, making them a bit hard to navigate.
A half page of text.
There are two versions of this disc in Region 1. One is made by Simitar, the other by Anchor Bay. The Anchor Bay version is 25 minutes longer, and slightly better quality, though neither is rated highly. I'd assume that our disc is from the same master as the R1 Simitar, given the Simitar logo at its start. I'd suggest that the R1 Anchor Bay version may be the preferable choice.
Krakatoa-East Of Java is a famous movie (Oscar nominated for its special effects) given shabby treatment on DVD.
The video quality is poor.
The audio quality is poor.
The extras are almost non-existent.
|DVD||Arcam DV88, using Component output|
|Display||Sony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5|