Monday, July 18, 2011
Once Upon A Time In The West Blu Ray Review
Sergio Leone's epic masterpiece makes the journey into high definition with Paramount's blu ray release. Featuring the 165 minute theatrical version previously released on dvd and a restored version that runs 1 minute longer.
Cutting straight to the chase, the image quality is stunning, this release is what I hoped blu ray could and would be. The 1968 film looks completely unmolested by digital processing methods and the result is an image that has a wonderfully healthy and natural looking grain that looks truly film like. The colours are rich and warm, with solid black levels and excellent shadow detail. The image is a little soft, certainly compared with most modern films released on the format but this has always been the case with this film due to the technical choices made when originally shooting the film.
The sound is available as either a restored mono dolby digital track or as a fantastic sounding DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix. The DTS track was my preferred choice, with a huge sound field to match the movie's magnificent widescreen vistas. The result is a mix that manages to perfectly juggle the use of ambient sound, dialogue and Ennio Morricone's superlative score.
All of the extras from the dvd release are ported over to the blu ray, with the film's trailer receiving a bump up to high definition resolution. The highlight is a documentary split into three parts that runs for around an hour altogether, this covers just about every aspect of the film. I would have liked it to have been a little more in depth though, in particular more about the score would have been good.
A near perfect film gets a near perfect treatment on this blu ray release, an excellent example of how to release a catalogue title. I hope some of the other companies follow Paramount's example with this title in treating older films with the respect they deserve. An absolute must buy and my choice for release of the year so far.