The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: MGM - 1963
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 172 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
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
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.
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.
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.**
(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:
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.
- 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
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.
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JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
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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
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SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
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Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package