The Shining (Remastered) (1980)
Main Menu Audio
Featurette-Making Of-+/- Director's commentary
|Year Of Production||1980|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (36:44)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Stanley Kubrick|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.66:1||Miscellaneous|
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Shining is that rare quality that few people have, a sixth sense about events that have happened or will happen. It is a common device used by Stephen King, and one which endears him to his legion of fans, of which I am merely a casual one. I do consider, however, that this work is amongst his very best, not to mention very earliest in a time when his ideas were fresh and truly unsettling. It is almost a fatalistic conclusion that if masters of each particular domain come together to make a film, magic will happen; well, this is certainly the case here. The most powerfully creative and individualistic movie maker of all time, Stanley Kubrick, combined with an actor few can equal in Jack Nicholson, all stemming from a master work by Stephen King resulted in what was a singular horror film unrivalled to this day.
This is one of those very few movies that are in my own internal hall of fame, and one that I was more than a little displeased with when it first appeared on DVD. I should clarify that I was not displeased with the movie, rather the slipshod presentation of it. I, along with many others, have been patiently waiting for the day when Warner would revisit their collection of Stanley Kubrick masterpieces and give them the kinds of transfers they richly deserve, you know like the transfer Jaws 4 got. Well, here it is. I can say with great pleasure that the wait was well worth it, in every respect.
Watching this lovingly remastered version was like watching the movie for the first time, and was almost revelatory. At last the film can be presented without the raft of apologies which prefaced viewing of the old versions, and I for one am delighted.
Shot on 35mm in open-matte, the intended aspect ratio of this film has always stirred controversy. Whilst Stanley Kubrick is on record for preferring the 1.33:1 format over widescreen, it is certain that the film was shot with an eye to its necessarily theatrical widescreen presentation of 1.66:1. Given that DVD is natively a widescreen format, I would be in favour of a 1.78:1 anamorphically enhanced transfer rather than the 1.33:1 non-enhanced version we seem to be destined to endure, or better yet a dual format presentation with both.
The clarity and subtlety of detail present in this fully restored transfer betrays its high-definition source, and the very first opening scene had my jaw almost on the floor. The rippling of the water, the texture of the road, the detail in the myriad trees; all had my eye darting around seeing things I had never seen before, and that experience continued throughout the entire movie.
Shadow detail is spot on, and there is nary a trace of grain or low level noise. Edge enhancement is almost non existent, which lends the transfer a very smooth finish.
Colours are exemplary in their naturalness, boldness and subtlety. Skin tones are perfect. Primary colours which were dulled in the old version now almost leap off the screen, and the whole palette of the film has been given a boost from the sparkle department.
Looking hard as I normally do for MPEG artefacting I was pleased to find almost none at all, at least none worth mentioning, and the transfer holds steady at around 7-8 megabits per second. Those who are familiar with the original release will no doubt be pleased to know that every single scratch, nick and blemish which plagued that transfer are entirely gone with this new transfer. Again, the opening shot is perhaps the best example, being absolutely and strikingly clean and something I was again not prepared for. Gone also is any hint of telecine wobble which again plagued the original.
However, it can’t be all good, can it? Unfortunately, almost every second shot suffers from aliasing to one degree or another. It is generally mild and can be forgiven given the massive increase in resolution this transfer displays, yet it does steal from the transfer a film-like quality which would otherwise have been the case. I must stress again that it is very gentle aliasing and almost trivial of me to mention, but for completeness I feel I have to.
The disc is RSDL formatted, and almost imperceptibly so, with the layer change occurring between Chapters 12 and 13 at 36:44 minutes. Since this occurs during a natural static title, it is the best place I can imagine for it.
There are two audio tracks, being English and Italian in Dolby Digital 5.1. The difference between this new 5.1 transfer and the old 2.0 mono is just as bold as the differences in video transfers.
Dialogue is always clean and missing the awful hissing which accompanied the original soundtrack. There are no sync problems.
The wonderful and effective scoring for this film comes from a variety of sources, much of it from the 20s, and in those cases fidelity is as would be expected, and also entirely appropriate. For the original scoring by the inimitable Wendy Carlos, the soundtrack is wide open and breathtakingly clear, with a fidelity that is at times remarkable. The opening scene has perhaps the most amazing music I have heard in a film, and it is fantastic to hear it in all its glory in this new transfer, and it really does help a great deal in creating just that right atmosphere. Thankfully, Foley sounds are now integrated seamlessly into the mix, rather than sticking out from it like dog's proverbials.
The surround channels were used sparingly for discrete effects (and what a thrill when they are), though they are used greatly for ambience. Just throw away your old mono release of this film and listen to it the way nature intended.
There are not that many low-frequency effects used in this movie, so the subwoofer had little to do.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
In critically comparing the NTSC R1 against the PAL R4 transfers, I was not too surprised to find that both versions have the same stunning detail and sharpness, and that there is little difference between them. However, the R1 version does not suffer from the subtle aliasing present on the R4 and as such has a more solid look. It also has slightly deeper blacks and as a result slightly more depth to it, not to mention that Jack Nicholson’s voice is a notch lower. The bottom line is that in absolute terms, the R1 presents a superior transfer – but only just.
Of far more importance than the transfer comparison is the actual film comparison – and the R1 cut is half an hour longer than the R4 (and other international cuts). The differences consist of many lengthier scenes, some different takes of familiar scenes, and a lot of entirely new ones. Jack Torrance is revealed as being a recently retired alcoholic, and references are made to this throughout the movie, which explains the bar scenes with Lloyd more clearly. Danny’s character is much more fully developed, as is his relationship with Tony who takes on a more sinister role. There are some spooky shots of corpses in the foyer of the hotel, and Dick Hollorann’s trip to the hotel near the end now makes much more sense. The list goes on, but suffice it to say the film feels more rounded and complete.
In overview, the R1 presents the film in a manner which I find more satisfying in all ways – visually, sonically and story-wise.
I am pleased to bits with this new release of my favourite horror movie. I am taking .5 points of the video transfer simply because I would have preferred a 1.78:1 anamorphic transfer. The audio is just superb, and the small extras are a great insight into the making of this movie. If you have the old copy, please do not hesitate to give it away or throw it away and get this new, fully restored version and see the movie for the first time again. Ah, the wonder that is DVD.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-900E, using RGB output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Sony STR DB-930|
|Speakers||Front & Rears: B&W DM603 S2, Centre: B&W LCR6, Sub: B&W ASW500|