You Only Live Twice

This review is sponsored by

Details At A Glance

Category Bond Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette - Inside You Only Live Twice
Featurette - Silhouettes - The James Bond Titles
Audio Commentary - Lewis Gilbert (Director) et al 
Storyboard Sequence - The Plane Crash
Trailers ( 3 x Theatrical, 1 x TV)
Radio Spots (7) 
8 Page Booklet
Year Released 1967
Running Time 111:54
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (85:35)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Lewis Gilbert

Fox Home Entertainment
Starring Sean Connery
Donald Pleasance
Case Transparent Amaray
RPI $34.95 Music John Barry

Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan English (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, 256Kb/s) 
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes
Subtitles English, 
English for the Hearing Impaired 
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes

Plot Synopsis

    Far and away the most sophisticated James Bond movie of its time, even the title is impressive. You Only Live Twice begins high atop the earth, with what is essentially a Gemini spacecraft orbiting quite peacefully with what was then a dramatic spacewalk being performed (the very height of technology then, so not to be sniffed at). Spoiling the fun is a rather large, gaping rocket which comes from nowhere, swallows our astronauts (apart from the hapless spacewalker who is left behind) and disappears again. Strange? No way, this is a James Bond flick after all.

    When the Russians have the same thing happen to one of their spacecraft, the stage is set for all out nuclear armageddon. Our gentleman spy, again the inimitable Sean Connery, must find out who is behind this nonsense and effectively save the world - again. Through a combination of incredible luck, timing and just a dash of style we find that it is none other than S.P.E.C.T.R.E. up to no good again, with our evil villain of the moment played absolutely wonderfully by Donald Pleasance. He is the original Dr Evil, replete with bald head, scar down one side of his face, quasi-futuristic clothes (which he designed himself, yah) and an every present white Sublime stuff.

    Massive, incredible sets and a more adult look to the whole production means bigger bangs and more action. Unfortunately, the depiction of Russian rocketry was way off the mark, and stock footage of a Titan missile is used to depict what should in fact have been a Russian Proton or Soyuz. Can you spot the space geek? Well, no one would have known that when it made its theatrical run, nor would the producers for that matter. It does make for a chuckle, and one thing you most definitely need when watching a James Bond movie is a good sense of humour! Thumbs most certainly up for this one!

Transfer Quality


    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer was reasonably sharp most of the time, with only a marginal softening of the image due to what appeared to be mild noise reduction. There were exceptions, with some scenes being quite soft, but by and large this is a good, clear image. Shadow detail was very good given the age of the movie, but not quite up to modern standards. There was very little grain in the image, and only minimal edge enhancement.

    Atypically of movies this old, the colour palette was strong and well-saturated, with skin tones being much stronger than on previous instalments of this franchise. Outdoor scenes were very purposeful with their colours, with strong greens and blues. There was a certain amount of chroma noise in some scenes, with sky shots suffering the most, not unusual for blue. I was also struck by the forceful metallic tones, with metals such as steel really standing out.

    There were no significant MPEG artefacts during the movie save for a mild amount of vertical shimmering in fine detail at times, although this may be a result of the telecine process and not the compression itself. The major problem with this transfer is the sometimes severe aliasing, which crops up all too often. Contrast is very high in this transfer, possible a tad more than necessary, and the usual aliasing culprits suffer quite badly for it (i.e. car grilles, window blinds and so on). Film artefacts were quite pervasive also, with nicks and scratches being ever-present to one degree or another.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, though I was unable to locate the change point. It would be really nice if my player told me what the current layer was, but sadly it does not. [Ed. 85:35]

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The single theatrical soundtrack on this disc is somewhat plain Dolby Digital 2.0 mono, running at 256 Kilobits per second.

    Dialogue was at all times easily understood, and was presented quite well. There were no significant lip-sync problems. Distortion was present in some dialogue, but this was infrequent and not unusual for its day.

    It would seem that John Barry had an "off day" with this one, and I didn't care too much for the score, especially the dreadful signature motif which crops up all too often both in the menu structure and the movie score proper. I am pleased to say, however, that this monaural soundtrack is quite good, having a solid weight behind it. Foley effects were slightly too forward in the mix, calling attention to themselves rather than being unnoticed as they should be. Still, this is very good for 1967!

    Strangely, there was little to no use of the subwoofer (in passive mode), and so explosions had no oomph to them, sounding instead like gunshots.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    When every disc is touted as a special edition, when do things cease to be special? It is with this in mind that I declare this disc to have an ordinary collection of extras - for a Bond DVD, that is! That means a whole heap of goodies to enjoy and dig yourself even deeper into the Bond mythology.

Menu (16x9 enhanced)

    Just when I thought the Bond menus couldn't be improved upon, what happens? This marks a subtle improvement in internal menu programming, with a smoother transition from one screen to another, and less "in-between" cuts. This means a slicker ride for us, and the animation and sound behind this menu is dazzling.

Featurette - Inside You Only Live Twice - An Original Documentary - (30:20)

    As usual, an interesting peek into behind the scenes, and without the guff American documentaries usually contain. John Cork knows how to make these documentaries, and he manages to get people to remember details of movies they made in quick succession decades ago, which is pretty impressive. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced, and in Dolby Digital 2.0 with 8 chapter stops, this is visually superior to others before it, seemingly of higher resolution and with no MPEG artefacting worth speaking of.

Featurette - Silhouettes - The James Bond Titles (23:21)

    So far, the producers of the Bond DVD's have managed to include a uniquely interesting facet to focus on, and this time it is the amazing trademark title sequences. In particular, this documentary, again by John Cork, focuses on the pioneer of the Bond title sequence, Maurice Binder. His techniques lead the way for most of the Bond movies until his death in the mid-seventies, with his most acclaimed being for The Spy Who Loved Me with Roger Moore. From the snippets I have seen, I would tend to agree. Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, non 16x9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0 with 5 chapter stops.

Storyboard Sequence - The Plane Crash (1:36)

    This short clip demonstrates the plane crash sequence, and shows how the end result differs somewhat from what was intended.


    All trailers are in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

    Theatrical Trailers

    Theatrical with UK Narration (3:06) - 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced. Very good quality indeed, and thankfully enhanced for widescreen displays.

    Theatrical with North American Narration (3:06) - 2.35:1 and 16x9 enhanced. The same trailer with a different voice, and a slightly different slant.

    You Only Live Twice / Thunderball Double Bill (2:20) - 1.85:1 and not 16x9 enhanced. This has been dredged up from the bottom of a swamp by the looks of it, but still welcome.

    TV Trailers

    You Only Live Twice / Thunderball Double Bill (2:20) - 1.33:1 non 16x9 enhanced, in colour and with heavy panning & scanning. Not bad.

Radio Spots (7)

Audio Commentary - Lewis Gilbert (Director) with Cast & Crew

    Introduced by John Cork of the Ian Fleming Foundation, this is of the same style as previous commentaries, with all number of actors and production crew joining Lewis Gilbert in recollecting their roles in the movie.

Collectors Booklet (8 page)

R4 vs R1

    Both regions are identically specified, so my choice would be to stick with the higher-resolution R4 PAL version as I am unaware of the quality of the R1 transfer.


    A very compelling Bond movie, being the most sophisticated of the series at that point by some margin. Donald Pleasance should have been given an award for his acting in this one - so bad as to be actually perfect for his role.

    The video transfer is problematic, but it is nonetheless very good for a movie over thirty years old.

    The soundtrack is monaural and light on the bass, but is certainly good enough.

    Another Bond collector's edition. Who can complain?

Ratings (out of 5)


© Paul Cordingley (bio)
20th September, 2000. 

Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A360 (S-Video connected)
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm rear-projection 16:9 Widescreen
Amplification Sony STRDB-930 (Optically connected)
Speakers Sony SS-CN35 100-watt (centre) , Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders x 4 ( main & surrounds), Optimus 100-watt passive subwoofer