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A Midnight Clear: 20th Anniversary Edition [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/16-bit), English Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: N/A
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 15
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Run time: 104 Mins.
  • Studio: Second Sight Films
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 16, 2012
  • RRP: £17.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00766FNFI[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

It is rumored that the screenplay for writer/director and former actor Keith Gordon’s A Midnight Clear was used to audition the actors for Saving Private Ryan; it wouldn’t be difficult to believe. Based on the William Wharton novel, Gordon’s film is a contemplative character study set in 1944 Ardennes near the end of the war and follows an intelligence platoon of six army soldiers billeted to an abandoned chalet. Led by their young leader William “will not” Knott (Ethan Hawke), the six soldiers try their hardest to cling to the lost innocence of the life they left behind at home, holding tight to a strict code of morals set by company members Vance “mother” Wilkins (Gary Sinise) and Paul “father” Mundy (Frank Whaley). The six men come across a German platoon wanting to surrender rather than fight on, knowing that their cause is crumbling. A plan is set in motion to allow the Germans to surrender after faking a skirmish and the two separate groups even share a touching bi-lingual Christmas celebration, ironically with the American’s lone Jewish member Stan Shutzer (Arye Gross) acting as translator. Their quiet solace and friendship, however, will eventually give way to the inevitable intrusion of the realities of war.

More somber and cerebral than “guts and glory,” A Midnight Clear is probably one of the best war films you’ve never heard of. Lingering in the shadows of Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, La grande illusion, and other films of its ilk, it’s time for this film to move closer to the fore.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Second Sight Films has given A Midnight Clear a beautifully filmic transfer to Blu-ray. The AVC/MPEG-4 1080p/24 encodement belies the 1992 vintage of the film with only a few instances of visible scratches, dirts and hairs that can be spotted from time to time. For the most part, the image is clean, but not scrubbed so much that it is devoid of all grain and this detail. There is nicely textured layer of film grain structure, medium to fine, that offers an organic look. Flesh tones are accurate and while overall colors are purposely desaturated in the film, contrast is strong, with pretty deep darks and bright, stable whites.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

The audio mix is a disappointment, to say the least. Second Sight provides the 5.1 mix in lossy Dolby Digital. I, for the life of me, cannot figure out why we are still getting DVD-era sound formats on Blu-ray releases at this point in the format’s evolution. Fortunately, there is also an uncompressed LPCM 2.0 Stereo (48kHz/16-bit) version on offer that sounds a bit cleaner, but you do give up some of the ambience and lower-end LFE. It’s up to you, but, frankly, I didn’t find the 5.1 mix compelling enough to suffer through listening to Dolby Digital.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

A strong host of supplements includes a strong commentary and informative making of featurette.

The supplements:

  • Commentary with director Keith Gordon and actor Ethan Hawke
  • A Winter’s War (1080i/50; 00:49:11) – This making of featurette includes interviews with Keith Gordon and others discussing this influential work, with plenty of film footage.
  • Trailer (1.85:1; SD/PAL)
  • Deleted Scenes (1.33:1; SD/PAL; 00:21:23)
  • Deleted Scenes with Commentary

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

With this excellent presentation of the superb World War II drama, A Midnight Clear, from Second Sight Films, perhaps this star-studded Keith Gordon drama will have a resurgence in popularity. Highly recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B00766FNFI[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.co.uk

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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