The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner - 1981
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 124 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French
Starring: Ben Cross, Ian Charleson, Nigel Havers, Nicholas Farrell, Cheryl Campbell, Sir John Gielgud, Ian Holm, Alice Krige, Peter Egan, Patrick Magee, Brad Davis
Directed by: Hugh Hudson
Music by: Vangelis
Written by: Colin Welland
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 10, 2012
Ben Cross and Ian Charleson head a sterling cast of newcomers and veterans in this inspirational true story of two young British sprinters competing for honor in the 1924 Olympics.
England's finest athletes have begun their quest for glory in the 1924 Olympic Games. Success brings honor to their nation. For two runners, the honor at stake is personal, and their challenge comes from within. Winner of four 1981 Academy Awards including Best Picture, Chariots of Fire is the uplifting true story of Harold Abrahams, a cultured, well to do, gentlemen of Jewish decent who is driven to prove himself in Cambridge society and Eric Liddell, a principled, devout Scottish missionary, who runs with divine inspiration.
I last saw this film back in the mid eighties and although I liked it I think that much of the film’s innate quality was lost on me. As I watched it now I had a deeper appreciation for the complexity of these two very different men. Colin Welland’s marvelous script draws out the depth of their motivations while connecting us to each from a personal perspective that successfully culminates in the exhilaration found in the indomitable power of the human spirit. Everything, including the terrific performances from the ensemble cast, David Watkin’s superb cinematography, Vangelis’ memorable score and Hugh Hudson’s apt direction compliment the proceedings while paying homage to this wonderful story. I thoroughly enjoyed this revisit. It appears reinvigorated in this Blu-ray offering that features newly restored video (see below) and a fan friendly package that comes housed in a stylish hardcover Digibook that includes photos, production notes and trivia.
The rating is for thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Chariots of fire comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 29 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
I recall reading somewhere (I thought in the original press release) that Chariots of Fire underwent a 4k scan from a fairly recent restoration but in preparing this review I wasn’t to locate the original source for confirmation. Restored or not this high definition rendering is superb. The film’s period colors are naturally depicted with vivid textures and pleasing primaries that appear rich without over emphasis. Fleshtones appear lifelike with a mildly warm essence that naturally convey complexions. Images are noticeably detailed and sharp which draws out plenty of delineation and texture within clothing, physical features, and objects onscreen. Long range visuals are resolved with above average clarity and depth which highlights the film’s superlative cinematography. Contrast is spot on and blacks exhibit excellent dynamic range and pop nicely when onscreen with mixed content. Dark sequences have appreciable dimension and sufficient shadow detail that combine with the video’s higher resolution to enhance depth perception. The video has an undisturbed and visible grain structure that occasionally takes on more emphasis but I never found it bothersome. Other than a hand full of shots where innate softening creeps in this 1080p encoding looks amazing.
The high resolution DTS-HD MA 5.1 channel mix does a terrific job rendering the film’s soundtrack. Dialogue has appreciable vocal character and above average room penetration. This is a more or less front oriented presentation that makes use of the entire system to deliver a rewarding audio experience that is highlighted by the richness and defining clarity of Vangelis’ memorable music score. The surrounds are utilized for atmospheric extension while lightly applied dynamics and upper level bass combine to provide solidity that enhances the music without sounding unnatural. I was extremely pleased with the outcome of this audio presentation. It highlights the strengths of the source material without ostentatious display and sounds great.
- Audio commentary with director Hugh Hudson
- 8 deleted scenes
- Wings on their heels: The making of Chariots of fire – 27 minutes
- (HD) Chariots of Fire: A reunion – 19 minute retrospective
- (HD) Paris, 1924: Birth of modern games – 27 minute documentary
- (HD) David Putnam: A cinematic champion – 25 minute featurette
- (HD) Hugh Hudson: Journey to the gold – 14 minute featurette
- Ben Cross & Patricia Hodge screentest
- Ian Charleson screen test
- Sprint around the quad – 2 minute featurette
- Famous opening shot – 2 minutes with Ben Cross
- Theatrical trailer
- Bonus CD Sampler that includes four tracks ( “Titles”, “Abraham’s theme”, “Eric’s theme”, “Jerusalem”) from the film’s soundtrack
Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Chariots of Fire needs little introduction and is an inspirational and powerful dramatic film based on the true story of two very different men striving for Olympic glory during the 1924 games in Paris France. It makes its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Warner Home Video featuring a terrific high definition video presentation, rewarding lossless sound and a complimentary assortment of bonus supplements that include new and previously release material. Add a four track CD sampler and a commemorative digibook keep case and you have a great offering that comes highly recommended for fans.
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