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The Great Escape Blu-ray Review

great-escape-blu-ray-coverU.S. Release

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French, Italian, German, Spanish (Castilian) DTS 5.1, Polish VO Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish (Latin American) Dolby Digital 1.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish (Castilian), Spanish (Latin American), Portuguese, Italian, German, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, Greek (Moder), Korean, Polish, Thai, Japanese
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 172 Mins.
  • Studio: MGM
  • Blu-ray Release Date: May 7, 2013
  • List Price: $19.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below TheaterByte screen captures are taken directly from the Blu-ray Discs and losslessly compressed in the PNG format. There should be no loss of picture quality with this format. All screen captures should be regarded only as an approximation of the full capabilities of the Blu-ray format.

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

Great-Escape-BD_01

Today’s audiences might be surprised by John Sturges’ (The Magnificent Seven) 1963 World War II adventure film The Great Escape‘s nearly three-hour running time and its penchant for actual character development. I mean, “adventure” films aren’t supposed to make us sit through over two hours of plotting and scheming before we get to the big payoff action sequences, are they? Well, The Great Escape does, and it is all the better for it.

This is classic Hollywood filmmaking at its best with a star-studded cast of, what would have been called back in the day “men’s men” actors in a tale based on a true story. Set during World War II, the film follows a group of Allied prisoners of war who manage to escape from an allegedly inescapable Nazi prison camp.

Richard Attenborough stars as the British commander, Bartlett ‘Big X’, who devises the plot to dig their way out using three underground tunnels. Charles Bronson is Danny ‘Tunnel King’, the Polish tunnel digging expert, Donald Pleasence is Blythe “the Forger”, whose skills as a, well, forger will be needed to fake documents once the group make their way out of the prison camp. James Garner is American Hendley ‘The Scrounger’ who has an uncanny ability to get whatever supplies the soldiers may need, and last but not least, Steve McQueen stars as hot shot American Hilts ‘The Cooler King’, who leads the Nazi’s on a spectacular motorcycle chase once the group breaks out, the likes of which were never seen on the big screen.

The first three acts of The Great Escape are concerned with the growing camaraderie between the soldiers and their increasingly complicated schemes to outwit their Nazi captors and breakout. There’s a surprisingly relaxed and almost comical atmosphere here at times with just the right amount of tension and suspense leading us to the final spectacle. The final part of the film, which unfolds in the classic Steve McQueen chase seen – and nobody does a chase seen like McQueen.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Great-Escape-BD_02

This 1963 35mm production captured anamorphically doesn’t always look very crisp in this transfer from MGM, but the AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement does retain a natural filmic appearance and good amount of contrast. Source damage is limited to the occasional scratch or speck of dust, but the overall image doesn’t appear to have been overly processed and there is a good amount of texture and detail that remains despite the unavoidable film softness.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

Great-Escape-BD_03

MGM provides The Great Escape with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) mix as its only English soundtrack option. The film originally had a 4-track stereo or monaural mix. There’s no English mono version here, but I’m guessing the 5.1 will get you the closest to the 4-track stereo version, with a little more separation in the surrounds. The spread across the front is rather aggressive at times, with dialogue and effects being panned hard left or right to follow action. The rest of the channels are filled with often boomy or boxy sounding ambience, still dialogue is clean and there’s good range.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

Great-Escape-BD_04

We aren’t offered any new high definition features here, and all supplements are in SD.

The supplements:

  • Audio Commentary by Director John Sturges, Cast & Crew – This audio commentary is more a collection of audio snippets than your usual sit down affair, but it still makes for an interesting listen as the cast members in particular recall bits and pieces from their time working on the film.
  • The Great Escape: Bringing Fact to Fiction
  • The Great Escape: Preparations for Freedom
  • The Great Escape: The Flight to Freedom
  • The Great Escape: A Standing Ovation
  • The Great Escape: The Untold Story
  • The Great Escape: The Untold Story – Additional Interviews
  • The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones
  • Return to The Great Escape
  • Original Theatrical Trailer

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Great-Escape-BD_05

The Great Escape, despite being labeled as an “adventure” film has far more depth than its easygoing demeanor would lead us to believe. There is so much character development taking place here over the course of its mammoth running time. The depth of the misery of these prisoners who, despite their circumstances, seem to fixate on their vices as an effort to conceal their true states is what actually carries the majority of the film until we get to the big action sequences. By the time we get there, the action seems more like a prop, not in the bad sense, but in the sense that there could be no other ending. It is a bookend, holding up the closing of the film, which began small, quaint, even somewhat tragic, and ended with a bang.

Additional Screen Captures

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Best Buy:
The Great Escape - Widescreen AC3 Dolby Dts - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase The Great Escape on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

 Great-Escape-BD_06

Great-Escape-BD_07

Great-Escape-BD_08

Great-Escape-BD_09

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Great-Escape-BD_11

Great-Escape-BD_12

[amazon-product]B00BWA8F6I[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B00BN3DUVE[/amazon-product]

Best Buy:
The Great Escape - Widescreen AC3 Dolby Dts - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase The Great Escape on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

 

 

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