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The Great Escape (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
700
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )
75





Studio and Year: MGM - 1963
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 172 minutes
Genre: Drama/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Mono, French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Steve McQueen, James Donald, James Garner, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, James Coburn, Richard Attenborough
Directed by: John Sturges
Music by: Elmer Bernstein
Written by: James Clavell & W.R. Burnett based on the book by Paul Brickhill
Region Code: A

Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 7, 2013







"Based on a true story"


Film Synopsis:

In 1943, the Germans opened Stalag Luft North, a maximum security prisoner-of-war camp designed to hold even the craftiest escape artists. In doing so, however, the Nazis unwittingly assembled the finest escape team in military history - brilliantly portrayed here by Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson and James Coburn - who worked on what became the largest prison breakout ever attempted.


My Take:

Based on Paul Brickhill’s book of the same name The Great Escape is an adventure film that chronicles the escape of 76 prisoners of war from the Stalag Luft III German prison camp during World War II. The non fictional account has been dramatized and contains characters that are composites of the real life heroes that risked their lives in order to thrown a monkey wrench into the German war machine by forcing them to utilize resources trying to prevent them from escaping or searching for them when they did.

At nearly three hours in length, with a large ensemble cast, big name director and poignant subject The Great Escape is epic in scope and features one of the most talked about chase/stunt sequences ever. Additionally the film benefits from wonderfully derived characters and a superbly crafted narrative that builds slowly but effectively as it draws us toward its evocative conclusion.

The Great Escape is a classic that needs no introduction among film enthusiasts. I haven’t seen it in years but this revisit rekindled my appreciation for historical significance and engaging repertoire.


Parental Guide:

The film contains war violence and thematic material that would garner a PG rating.



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.**


Audio: 78

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373699



Video: 72

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692


The Great Escape comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 20 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of m Mbps.

According to the press documentation The Great Escape has undergone a restorative process. Having not previously owned it on home video I honestly cannot speak to it’s quality from a comparative standpoint. In looking at this high definition rendering compared to the better restorations I have seen especially those taken from 4K scans of the original camera negative this pales in comparison. Generally speaking it boasts colors that are not overly vibrant but are time period appropriate for the film. Skin tones are also on the pallid side but remain consistent within the presentations visual aesthetic. Images are on the soft side with resolution that delivers moderate levels of high definition detail. This coupled with sharpness that is fairly inconsistent leaves the video looking flat and lacking in definitive line structure. Some scenes do look better than others and occasionally dimensional perspective improves. Blacks aren’t especially dynamic in appearance and shadow detail is above average. The reproduction of film grain ranges from fairly natural to odd looking. It doesn’t appear to suffer from digital removal but at times lacks the innate character of celluloid. Having said that, I would add that overall the presentation probably isn’t unreflective of the original source however I have to believe that it can look better.

The DTS-HD lossless soundtrack makes the most of what it has to work with in the source elements present in the recording. Dialogue is predominantly clear and mixed to a prominent position within the front soundstage. Sound effects and panning sequences emanating from the main channels are seamlessly integrated with discernible separation and average sound field penetration. The beautiful music score doesn’t have the feeling of authority and quantifiable dynamics that you might find with today’s digital recordings but it exerts tangible influence that is highlighted by crystal clear instrumentation. There is no subterranean bass contained in this mix however, low frequency detail is present and detectable during a handful of scenes. The surround channels are used mainly for ambient spatial cues that extend the front soundstage to create a better sense of envelopment but not to the level of being engagingly immersive. The soundtrack is noticeably dated but sounds just fine.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary by director John Sturges and cast/crew

  • The Great Escape: Bringing fact to fiction – 12 minute documentary

  • The Great Escape: Preparations for freedom – 19 minute documentary

  • The Great Escape: The flight to freedom – 9 minute documentary

  • The Great Escape: A standing ovation – 6 minute documentary

  • (HD) The Great Escape: The untold story – 50 minute documentary

  • (HD) The Great Escape: The untold story – additional interviews

  • The real Virgil Hilts: A man called Jones – 25 minute documentary

  • Return to The Great Escape – 25 minute documentary

  • (HD) Original Theatrical Trailer




Final Thoughts:

Based on Paul Brickhill’s book of the same name The Great Escape is an adventure film that chronicles the escape of 76 prisoners of war from the Stalag Luft III German prison camp during World War II. It is a classic that needs no introduction and 50 years after its release continues to be historically significant and an engaging watch. It makes its way to Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox boasting restored high definition video that falls below the standard set by the better restorative efforts we have recently seen although I wouldn't go so far as to say it is poor. The gratifying multi-channel lossless sound and a solid supplemental package rounds out this offering that at least at this point presents fans with the opportunity to experience this film looking its best since coming to home video.





attachment.php?attachmentid=109949&d=1210373731






Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:


JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Marantz AV8801 11.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Gear mentioned in this thread:

post #2 of 21
Thanks for reviewing it for us, Ralph! cool.gif

I was hoping for a much better restoration of this classic film!

Guess I'll wait for a better version to be released based on your scores.
post #3 of 21
I can't stand it when blu ray boasts about their product and issue a substandard product. Oh I forgot, it's another scam to double dip with a rerelease. Why not get it right the first time?!!!
post #4 of 21
Does anyone know why this is coming from 20th Century Fox and not Warner Bros., which owns the old MGM library? I'm guessing it has to be some strange rights issue.
post #5 of 21
Quote:
video that falls below the standard set by the better restorative efforts we have recently seen although I would go so far as to say it is poor.

I did a A-B comparison to the widescreen DVD release from some years ago. The BD has much improved color and contrast but actual fine detail is no better than the DVD (except in specific scenes). So yes, it's better than the DVD but not hugely so. I suppose that the original film elements available simply don't have the detail we've come to expect, and this may be the best we ever see this movie. Even so, a high-bitrate DVD could reveal most of the detail we see here. Also good to note that the bitrate on the BD is fairly low. The movie only with 5.1 audio is about 29GB, which is pretty small for a 3 hr film. This release should have had 2 discs and a much higher bitrate for the film.
post #6 of 21
Good review thank you. Stop with the double dipping, this movie was released in 1963 so I'm sure this is a 50th anniversary re release. Im sure they "got it right" when they shot this film but let's face it the cameras and other equipment were nothing like they are now. It probably is an improvement over the original but honestly I wouldn't want to see the classics look like a new movie release. Part of the allure of these older movies is that they don't look like a new movie. It is the acting in and directing of this movie which have turned it into a classic and worthy of a BD release. This is a must have for me and for any war movie buff.
Edited by comfynumb - 5/15/13 at 11:22am
post #7 of 21
Sound of Music is stunning, but was shot on old cameras. What's the difference?
post #8 of 21
As stunning as the new releases? No way, the blu ray remastering only goes so far. I don't think I ever watched the sound of music, musicals aren't my bag but if I remember right it has many bright and colorful scenes where a lot of the great escape was dimly lit and with dull colors. The comparison is obviously not going to work.
Edited by comfynumb - 5/15/13 at 11:47am
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdgrimes View Post

I did a A-B comparison to the widescreen DVD release from some years ago. The BD has much improved color and contrast but actual fine detail is no better than the DVD (except in specific scenes). So yes, it's better than the DVD but not hugely so. I suppose that the original film elements available simply don't have the detail we've come to expect, and this may be the best we ever see this movie. Even so, a high-bitrate DVD could reveal most of the detail we see here. Also good to note that the bitrate on the BD is fairly low. The movie only with 5.1 audio is about 29GB, which is pretty small for a 3 hr film. This release should have had 2 discs and a much higher bitrate for the film.

Greetings,

Thanks for chiming in with your thoughts rdgrimes. It should be noted that I amended my review to correctly read:
Quote:
video that falls below the standard set by the better restorative efforts we have recently seen although I wouldn't go so far as to say it is poor.

Regards,
post #10 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post

As stunning as the new releases? No way, the blu ray remastering only goes so far. I don't think I ever watched the sound of music, musicals aren't my bag but if I remember right it has many bright and colorful scenes where a lot of the great escape was dimly lit and with dull colors. The comparison is obviously not going to work.

Yes, it blew me away. Lots of film grain, but otherwise is was up to par with modern films. Ralph seems to agree on his review of it. There are many dark scenes as well and the blacks are extremely well graded and deep. Contrast is top notch. Some of the detailed shots are "stick your hand through the screen" they're so real looking. Other than the grain I would put it up against movies like Inception. Maybe not Avatar.

So how come SofM can look so good and this can't? I know SofM was filmed with 70mm or something ? and then scanned 8k. Is that right? Something really good. Perhaps it's the original film quality that can offer such great results still to this day.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

Yes, it blew me away. Lots of film grain, but otherwise is was up to par with modern films. Ralph seems to agree on his review of it. There are many dark scenes as well and the blacks are extremely well graded and deep. Contrast is top notch. Some of the detailed shots are "stick your hand through the screen" they're so real looking. Other than the grain I would put it up against movies like Inception. Maybe not Avatar.

So how come SofM can look so good and this can't? I know SofM was filmed with 70mm or something ? and then scanned 8k. Is that right? Something really good. Perhaps it's the original film quality that can offer such great results still to this day.



It definitely has a lot to do with the original footage and the remastering of it. I can imagine taking a film frame by frame and making each one better is a daunting task and we can't even imagine how much goes into this. Is it something with the original film that makes the SOM so good in blu ray? I'm thinking yes and a very good process remastering it for blu ray.
post #12 of 21
Sound of Music was shot on 70mm, which has much more resolution than 35mm or the digital cameras of today. Another great example of a 70mm production that was scanned at 8k and then downrezzed for the Blu Ray is Baraka, which is used by many as a reference video for picture quality. I haven't seen the Blu Ray yet, but Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master was shot on 70mm, so the Blu Ray should be pretty spectacular.
post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by dschulz View Post

Sound of Music was shot on 70mm, which has much more resolution than 35mm or the digital cameras of today. Another great example of a 70mm production that was scanned at 8k and then downrezzed for the Blu Ray is Baraka, which is used by many as a reference video for picture quality. I haven't seen the Blu Ray yet, but Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master was shot on 70mm, so the Blu Ray should be pretty spectacular.



70mm film has more resolution than today's cameras? I guess that would explain the differences in the older movies.
Edited by comfynumb - 5/15/13 at 2:20pm
post #14 of 21
To bad they don't use 70mm more. What was the great escape shot on, 35mm?

I remember talking to my uncle once about this (Jim VanDijk http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0006920/ ) and he gave me an anology of 70mm vs digital vs 1080p. If I remember right, it was his credit card vs a dime. The dime being 1080p. He explained that the area of the 70mm is so massive it can absorb tons of light and resolution where as his RED camera could not match it. Which is why the black detail in SofM is so good I'm guessing. I imagine it's very expensive to shoot with 70mm so that's why it's not done anymore. Digital is just so easy, and 35mm is cheap as well.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by dschulz View Post

Another great example of a 70mm production that was scanned at 8k and then downrezzed for the Blu Ray is Baraka, which is used by many as a reference video for picture quality. I haven't seen the Blu Ray yet,

The Baraka blu-ray disc looks spectacular. Of course their newer film, Samara, also looks great on blu-ray.


@Ralph

Thanks for the correction edit above, because I did take your earlier comments to mean that it was a poor restoration effort. cool.gif
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

To bad they don't use 70mm more. What was the great escape shot on, 35mm?

IMDB states The Great Escape was shot on 35mm.
post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by d3193 View Post

Does anyone know why this is coming from 20th Century Fox and not Warner Bros., which owns the old MGM library? I'm guessing it has to be some strange rights issue.

The Great Escape was released by United Artists, whose titles are now controlled by MGM (who distributes to home video via Fox). Same as the Bond films, Pink Panther series, Magnificent Seven, etc.
post #18 of 21
O
Quote:
Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post

Yes, it blew me away. Lots of film grain, but otherwise is was up to par with modern films. Ralph seems to agree on his review of it. There are many dark scenes as well and the blacks are extremely well graded and deep. Contrast is top notch. Some of the detailed shots are "stick your hand through the screen" they're so real looking. Other than the grain I would put it up against movies like Inception. Maybe not Avatar.

So how come SofM can look so good and this can't? I know SofM was filmed with 70mm or something ? and then scanned 8k. Is that right? Something really good. Perhaps it's the original film quality that can offer such great results still to this day.[/quote



I can't seem to find the review for SOM can you post a link? Thanks.
post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by NJPete View Post

The Great Escape was released by United Artists, whose titles are now controlled by MGM (who distributes to home video via Fox). Same as the Bond films, Pink Panther series, Magnificent Seven, etc.

Thanks NJPete. I should have checked IMdB, which states clearly that it was not an MGM production or release. I was going by Ralph's info, which presumably refers to MGM as the current distributor, not as the original production company.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by comfynumb View Post


I can't seem to find the review for SOM can you post a link? Thanks.

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1287991/the-sound-of-music-blu-ray-official-avsforum-review

and a couple in agreement:

http://www.blu-ray.com/movies/The-Sound-of-Music-Blu-ray/13695/
http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/3078/soundofmusic.html

It's actually good demo material it's so good eek.gif
post #21 of 21



Thanks. Hard to believe a movie that old can stand up to the new ones, pretty amazing and I stand corrected biggrin.gif
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