Schindler’s List: 25th Anniversary Edition Ultra HD Blu-ray Review

Ralph Potts review the 25th Anniversary Edition of Schindler’s List, a landmark and, award-winning film, from Director Steven Spielberg, that is making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

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

Film:

Extras:

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

85

Details:

Studio and Year: Universal – 1993
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 196 minutes
Genre: Drama/Biopic

Disc Format: BD-66
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish/French DTS 5.1, English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio (Blu-ray)
Subtitles:English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Liam Neeson, Ben Kingsley, Embeth Davidtz, Ralph Fiennes, Caroline Goodall, Jonathan Sagalle
Directed by: Steven Spielberg
Music by: John Williams
Written by: Steven Zaillian based on the novel by Thomas Keneally
Region Code: A,B,C

Release Date: December 18, 2018

“The List is…Life”

Synopsis:

“Schindler’s list presents the indelible true story of the enigmatic Oskar Schindler, a member of the Nazi party, womanizer, and war profiteer who saved the lives of more than 1,100 Jews during the Holocaust. It is the triumph of one man who made a difference, and the drama of those who survived one of the darkest chapters in human history because of what he did.” – Universal Pictures Home Entertainment


My Take:

I reviewed Schindler’s List when it released on Blu-ray in 2013 and have included comments from that review here. The rating for the film is the same. New ratings for the Ultra HD video, bonus features and Dolby Atmos mix are contained below.

Adapted from the novel by Thomas Keneally, Steven Spielberg’s masterful film tells the incredible true story of the courageous Oskar Schindler (Liam Neeson). Initially a member of the Nazi party, the Catholic Schindler risks his career and life, and ultimately goes bankrupt, to employ 1,100 Jews in his crockery factory during the Holocaust.

Schindler’s Jewish accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) serves as his conscience, as Schindler conducts business with an obstinate and cruel Nazi commander Amon Goeth (Ralph Fiennes), who viciously kills Jewish prisoners from the balcony of his villa overlooking a prison camp. Filmed entirely in black-and-white on location in Poland, Schindler’s List does not downplay the faults of its magnanimous and unlikely hero, but relates a story of the triumph of the human spirit in the face of horrific devastation and tragedy.

I would like to believe that most that have seen Schindler’s List were affected by it on at least some level. It is based on one of the darkest periods in human history however its subject represents a defining light amidst unspeakable atrocities. No matter how many times I have seen Schindler’s List it always evokes the same responses. Frankly, it isn’t a movie that leaves you yearning to see it over and over. However, it leaves an indelible impression that serves as a reminder of past events, that while difficult to watch, should never be forgotten.

Director Steven Spielberg, screenwriter Steven Zaillian, composer John Williams, cinematographer Janusz Kaminski and the wonderful ensemble portray the story of Oskar Schindler and those he helped save with respect, dignity and at times brutal frankness that imparts perspective for audiences as to the heart wrenching events perpetrated upon the victims and the idea that one person can make a difference.

With its initial release in 1993, Schindler’s List rapidly became one of the most honored films of all time, garnering twelve Academy Award nominations and taking home seven Oscars, including Best Director and Best Picture for Spielberg. The film also earned Oscars® for composer John Williams, screenwriter Steven Zaillian and director of photography Janusz Kaminiski, as well as art directors Allan Starski and Ewa Braun, editor Michael Kahn and producers Gerald R. Molen and Branko Lustig.

Based on real events Schindler’s List is a powerful and moving film that tells a timeless and important story of survival during the holocaust and the man that discovered that whoever saves a life, saves the world entire. I am thrilled to add it to my Blu-ray library.

Replay Value:

Parental Guide:

The rating is for language, some sexuality, violence and 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.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 90
(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: 

 

UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 90
(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: 

 

Dolby Atmos Rating: 80
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 

  • Level of immersion: 
  • Soundstage integration: 
  • Audio object placement: 
  • Effectiveness of Atmos platform: 
  • Entertainment factor: 

 

Schindler’s List comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

It’s important to note that the ultimate goal for any release on home video is to present a film in the highest possible quality based upon its original elements. A film like Schindler’s List has an aesthetic that incorporates film grain and the use of optics that won’t result in the type of high gloss, tack-like sharpness of a film shot using digital cameras. This isn’t a problem and shouldn’t be seen as such.

Director Steven Spielberg supervised the restoration of the original 35mm film negative for the 2013 Blu-ray release and is appears that result was used here as well. Shot in black and white, Schindler’s List can at times be a decidedly dark film with many sequences taking place in environs with only natural or incandescent lighting. Looking at the film’s opening sequence the improvement in definition is noticeable. Images onscreen have excellent depth with rendering that draws out plenty of delineation. Close ups and mid-level pans reveal perceptible detail in the faces, hair and clothing worn by the cast as well as the texture on objects/surfaces within the frame which imparts a noticeable sense of depth.

Blacks have excellent dynamic range and consistency which plays very well against the various stages of white and gray. The film uses lots of low-level sequences that feature streaming light, shading and mixed content. The level of shadow detail here versus the 1080p rendering is improved, enhancing the variety of lighting schemes, transitions and purposeful shadows utilized in the film. that translate extremely well excellent. Grain remains perfectly intact, with an even and filmic essence that underscores the thematic content. The addition of high dynamic range added a pleasing visual element that enriched natural and artificial light. I also felt that the cinematography benefited from the application of HDR which emboldened blacks and shadow delineation. In addition to the increase in resolution, this made the differences between the 1080p video and this rendering standout.

This Ultra HD presentation improves upon the Blu-ray release. I think that due to the innate nature of the source, those differences, depending on your level of interest, may or may not be significant enough to warrant an upgrade. For me, this is a keeper.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Forum Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Schindler’s List, I found the rendering of HDR to be essentially identical. As stated earlier, this film’s predominating elements aren’t necessarily lent to the type of eye catching HDR that allows the format shine. At the end of the day you can’t go wrong with either.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be of the reserved variety in its use of sounds placed in the height listening plane. As an enthusiast I appreciate a well-crafted sound mix that draws me into the onscreen elements, regardless of where the sounds are emanating from. This Atmos mix adheres to the foundational elements present in the channel-based mix, eschewing overuse of overhead effects that would not coincide with the feel of the soundtrack.

Instead, sounds and musical extension are selected for moments where their presence adds thematic/dramatic impact, effectively broadening the soundstage. There are a few instances where effects pass by or place the listener underneath objects within the room. The massacre in the Ghetto features falling objects raining down from above. The sequence where Oskar has the people aboard the trains sprayed with the houses to cool them off has notable atmospheric presence. The exterior sequences that take place in the camp get similar atmospheric treatment with some discrete sound objects coming into play.

While this Atmos mix took a subtle approach I think that it appropriately conveyed the spirit and overall feel of the original soundtrack while adding a complimentary element. I didn’t feel let down by it and ultimately enjoyed the presentation as a whole.

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

Bonus Features:

  • Disc 1: Schindler’s List Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Schindler’s List Blu-ray
  • Disc 3: Bonus Features
  • Voices from the List – 77 minute documentary
  • USC Shoah Foundation story with Steven Spielberg
  • About I Witness
  • Let Their Testimonies Speak
  • NEW Schindler’s List: 25 Years Later
  • Digital Copy

Final Thoughts:

Schindler’s List needs no introduction among film enthusiasts and, stands as a testament to its subject matter. I have loved it since first seeing it and fully appreciate the efforts of all of those involved in bringing such an important story to the big screen. It’s making its debut on Ultra HD Blu-ray from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment featuring excellent Ultra high definition video, Dolby TrueHD/ Atmos sound, and legacy/new supplemental material. I am pleased to report that Schindler’s List has benefited from the Ultra HD experience. If you’re a fan and are set up to take advantage of its upgrades, this offering from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment is a must have for your collection.

 

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” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems