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Death Watch Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: N/A
  • Subtitles Color: N/A
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: NR
  • Run Time: 130 Mins.
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Studio: Shout! Factory
  • Blu-ray Release Date: August 28, 2012
  • List Price: $19.93

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Film
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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]

1980’s Death Watch (La mort en direct) from French director Bertrand Tavernier (The Princess of Montpensier) anticipated the reality TV craze that would grip society only a mere two decades later, questioning to just what extreme people would go to become television stars and what they would accept as entertainment. Filmed on location in Glasgow, Scotland, the dreary landscapes combine with a cutting contemporary classical score by French composer Antoine Duhamel (no relation to yours truly) for what is a typically cold, late-70s drama with an art house feel.

Harvey Keitel stars as Roddy (Be Cool; The Piano; The Last Temptation of Christ; Bad Lieutenant; Thelma & Louise), a man who after recently having a camera implanted in his brain through his eye, is hired by the producer of the television series Death Watch to secretly film Katharine (Romy Schneider) during her last days of life. In an ironic twist of fate, Romy Schneider would sadly pass away only two years after filming Death Watch.

Of note here is that Shout! Factory is providing for the first time ever in the United States the original director’s cut of the film as opposed to a severely edited version that has been the only one available in the country for years. It  changed the feel and ideas explored in Death Watch, supposedly making it more palatable to American sensibilities.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement, framed at 2.35:1, from Shout! Factory is a very strong one that excellently captures the drab Glasgow locations with an organic, filmic quality. The grain structure is fine while imparting lots of texture and detail. Flesh tones are natural and contrast is strong, allowing for inky blacks, bright whites without any hints of clipped/flattened bright areas. I noticed no noise, compression errors or edge enhancement, but there was some slight black crush that was hardly an issue.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The original monaural soundtrack is provided in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit). It actually fares quite well sound wise, all things considered, and offers fairly full sounding dialogue, clear sound effects and no clipping.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

Only a brief montage of production stills in 1080p is provided.

The supplements:

  • Photo Gallery (1080p/24; 00:01:13)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Kudos to Shout! Factory for finally giving this sci-fi/drama classic its just due in the U.S. with a strong Blu-ray/DVD combo release. Death Watch is a must have for cinephiles, science fiction fans, and movie lovers of all kinds.

Additional Screen Captures

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Purchase Death Watch on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

[amazon-product]B0080730LQ[/amazon-product]

Purchase Death Watch on Blu-ray Combo Pack at CD Universe

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:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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