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post #1 of 5 Old 01-16-2017, 11:24 AM - Thread Starter
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The Birth of a Nation Ultra HD Blu-ray Review



Ralph Potts reviews this engaging and powerful drama that tells the fact based story of Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher in the antebellum South, who orchestrated an uprising.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:

Extras:

Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

89



Details:

Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2016
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 120 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, English/Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Mark Boone Jr. Colman Domingo, Aunjanue Ellis, Dwight Henry, Aja Naomi King, Gabrielle Union, Ester Scott, Jackie Earl Haley, Penelope Ann Miller
Written & Directed by: Nate Parker
Music by: Henry Jackman
Region Code: A

Release Date: January 10, 2017


"Freedom through Rebellion"


My Take:

Set against the antebellum South, The Birth of a Nation follows Nat Turner (Nate Parker), a literate slave and preacher, whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. As he witnesses countless atrocities - against himself and his fellow slaves - Nat orchestrates an uprising in the hopes of leading his people to freedom.

When it comes to fact based films dealing with such difficult subject matter it can be difficult to remain impartial. Let’s start with the basic truth that the choice between being a slave or not being a slave, was death. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been living in such times and being subjected to such atrocities. The Birth of a Nation was written and directed by Nate Parker, who also stars in the film in the pivotal role of Nat Turner.

Based on Turner’s life, the film paints a vivid portrait of the events that led up to that fateful day in August of 1831, in South Hampton County Virginia. I honestly knew little about Nat Turner’s life before that, but only really knew him as a freedom fighter associated with the massacre. I think that the film effective sheds light on more of who Turner was and the choices he made. I think that the question of just where he fits into our nation’s history is one that can be debated depending on point of view, so I will forego any opinion on that.

As for the film, I found it to be compelling, as it lays the groundwork which capably supports it subject matter. Nate Parker is a visionary who told this story in a meaningful way, which comes through quite well. As a fan that depicts such difficult context, it only goes as far as is necessary to convey it, without constantly resorting to overtly graphic scenes. The Birth of a Nation is a powerful and worthwhile film that tells a pertinent story that like it or not is an integral part of American History.


Parental Guide:

The rating is for disturbing violent content, and some brief nudity.


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: 86
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialog Reproduction:
  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element):



UHD Presentation: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • HDR: Dark Highlights:
  • HDR: Bright Highlights:
  • HDR: Expanded Color:
  • Resolution:
  • Visual Impact:


Ultra HD Blu-ray has finally been released and eager enthusiasts are ready and willing to see what it has to offer. For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

The Birth of a Nation comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 53 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.7 Mbps.

The Birth of a Nation was derived from 2.8K and 5K sources, rendered from a 2K DI, and up-converted to 4K. With the limited exposure to Ultra HD either sourced from 2K or 4K Digital Intermediates we are left to judge based upon what we have seen thus far.

The 1080p transfer looks terrific and this Ultra HD rendering takes it up a notch with a discernible increase in detail, emboldened highlights, both light and dark, and a noticeably sharper and vibrant image. This is readily apparent in the sequence early in the film as young Nat and Sam play hide and seek. The beautiful earth tones colors, shimmering water, scaly bark on the trees, and contrast of the fields/plantation with its weathered buildings against the overlooking gray sky look amazing. Close ups reveal oodles of fine detail and abounding textures. Wide angle shots of the gorgeous shooting locations and cinematography look great in Ultra HD. I found the application of high dynamic range to be spot on and quite complimentary.

One of the best examples of the presentation's effective use of HDR comes during chapter 5 which features a mid-level shot of the interior of an old barn that doubles as a slave church. As Nat stands at the front giving his sermon beams of sunlight streak through the holes and slats in the adjacent wall. The beams illuminate areas of the space, landing on both people and objects in the barn, creating a stark contrast that looks amazingly natural. The variety of scenes shot at night or in the low light of dawn or dusk, some set to firelight or natural light are equally rewarding. At times the level of minutia is excellent as even the finest nuance in the physical features, clothing and the rough textures in the rustic landscapes or manmade shelters is visually resolvable. The film utilizes sepia, autumn schemed color and an overall cooler chromatic aesthetic that appears faithfully reproduced in Ultra HD.

The difference between viewing The Birth of a Nation in high definition and Ultra HD isn't quite night and day but at times I found myself marveling at the how natural and pleasing it looked.

This is primarily a dialog driven film however there are elements in the film that require use of the entire system so its ability to clearly render them is essential. Dialog is reproduced with transparent realism and lucid texture as it is appropriately balanced within the front soundstage. The surround mix utilizes the entire platform to recreate the many acoustic sounds associated with the environments portrayed onscreen. The rear channels contain a mixture of spatial ambience/musical extension as well as directional panning cues that effectively support the front soundstage. This is a complimentary audio presentation that mates well with the source material.


Blu-ray Video:


Video: 94
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:



The Birth of a Nation comes to Blu-ray Disc from 20th Century Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps.

This film intentionally uses muted colors and lighting schemes to depict is period based world. Deep defining blacks and revealing details in low lit backgrounds and shadows provide excellent depth and gradational highlights to the film’s pervading darkened sequences. Detail is characterized by intricate and transparent imagery that is dimensional and rich in definition. This was the case in all but a few instances where definition softened slightly. I suspect that this was more than likely innate to the photography rather than related to the encoding. The sequence that takes place in daylight on the plantations is abundantly rich with earth toned greens and browns that look great in high definition. I thought that the creative choices made regarding the visual style of this film were right on target.


Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: The Birth of a Nation Ultra HD Blu-ray
    Disc 2: The Birth of a Nation Blu-ray
  • Feature Audio Commentary
  • (HD) Rise Up: The Legacy of Nat Turner – 47 minute documentary
  • (HD) 2 Deleted Scenes with optional director commentary
  • (HD) The Birth of a Nation: The Making of a Movement – (3 Segments)
  • (HD) #AmeriCAN – 18 minute short film
  • (HD) “Free God” Spoken Word – 6 minutes
  • (HD) Celebration of Independent Voices: Nate Parker – 4 minutes
  • (HD) Shooting Script
  • (HD) Gallery
  • (HD) Theatrical Trailer
  • Digital HD Copy



Final Thoughts:

Written and Directed by Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation is a powerful and worthwhile film that tells a pertinent story that like it or not is an integral part of American History. It comes to Blu-ray in this Ultra HD Combo Pack from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment featuring excellent Ultra HD video, crystal clear high definition audio/video, and a worthwhile array of supplemental features. The Birth of a Nation is a relevant film that genre fans shouldn’t miss. It shines on Blu-ray so feel free to give it a spin on the highest quality format that your system allows.





Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS500 3D/4K Ready High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6-HDR Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo UBP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
SVS SB-13 Ultra (Piano Gloss finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
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post #2 of 5 Old 01-16-2017, 11:35 AM
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Thanks Ralph for great review again. For this one, I am not sure to buy or to rent? I love fact or truth based story. But due to lack of ATMOS audio for 4K and audio score is below 90, I can only buy it if the film has very good replay value. So what do you think the replay value for this film?
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post #3 of 5 Old 01-16-2017, 11:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roudan View Post
Thanks Ralph for great review again. For this one, I am not sure to buy or to rent? I love fact or truth based story. But due to lack of ATMOS audio for 4K and audio score is below 90, I can only buy it if the film has very good replay value. So what do you think the replay value for this film?
Greetings,

Rent it.


Regards,
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post #4 of 5 Old 01-16-2017, 05:17 PM
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I enjoyed the movie and Ralph's rating of it is accurate in every category. I thought the extra supplements were excellent too. But, then again, I'm a history buff.🤓
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post #5 of 5 Old 01-22-2017, 09:32 AM
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Wow, watched this movie last night and it was absolutely terrific. Solid sound track to boot.
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