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Revolution [UK] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio:  2.35:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English LPCM 2.0 Mono (48kHz/24-bit) (Theatrical & Director’s Cut), DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) (Director’s Cut)
  • Subtitles: English HOH
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: B (Region-Locked)
  • Certification: 12
  • Discs: 2 (1 x Blu-ray + 1 x DVD)
  • Run time: 115 Mins.
  • Studio: BFI
  • Blu-ray Release Date: June 18, 2012
  • RRP: £19.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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:3.5/5]

British director Hugh Hudson’s (Chariots of Fire; I Dreamed of Africa) 1985 film, Revolution, was both a critical and commercial flop. In retrospect, the film was fighting an uphill battle it probably could never have won under any circumstances. A film about the American Revolution being done by a British production and shot on British soil was never going to be accepted by U.S. audiences. Surprisingly, British audiences and critics were equally averse to Revolution, perhaps due to the film’s supposedly bad British accents and lack of perceived political side-taking.

The fact of the matter is that lead Al Pacino did in fact have a rather jarring accent throughout Revolution, not quite British, not quite American, but in fact, one that was heavily researched by linguistics experts as something that might have most likely been in use by someone of his nature at the time. No one around today can say definitively what anyone back then really sounded like. It is also worth noting that Revolution is not a piece of historical fiction that seeks to tell some grand epic that lays out a detailed description of the American Revolution in patriotic terms. It is a much smaller story in scope, telling, rather, of a nobody in history, Tom Dobb (Pacino), a simple, illiterate fur trapper, who is swept up by history, caught up in the war only when he arrives in New York City on the 4th of July to trade his furs, his boat is seized by the continental army, and his son pressed into service for the revolutionaries.

From the American perspective, it is perhaps sacrilege for this story to be told at all by the British and for it to even be filmed in England, but reel back the rhetoric and faux patriotism a bit and one will realize that the “American” revolution was in fact a British story as well. What were the colonists if not British? Nearly a quarter of the population during the war was still loyal to the Crown, and, to this day, even after The War of 1812 that has somehow been nearly forgotten by history, the U.S. and U.K. have close ties.

The Director’s Cut of Revolution rectifies some missteps in the Theatrical Cut, firstly by adding in a narration by Pacino. It’s an almost detached one that, rather than spelling everything out, simply puts Pacino’s Tom Dobbs more into historical context. Secondly, the Director’s Cut casts off the imposed upon tidy ending required by US distributor Warner. In all, it is a much tighter and more enjoyable film.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The masters for Revolution were provided to the BFI by Warner and the film in both incarnations seems rather good. It is film-like, although some grain haters might take issue with it. Some darker scenes show very heavy graininess verging on noise, but this never tips over into absolute obtrusiveness on enjoyment. Colors are strong, especially those bright reds of the redcoats, and the vivid colonial blues.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The original mono soundtrack is offered for both theatrical and director’s cuts in LPCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit). Additionally, a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) mix is provided for the director’s cut. Naturally, there isn’t much to say about the monaural soundtrack other than to say it provides dialogue than can be discerned clearly with a good sense of separation between the sound effects and dialogue. The lossless 5.1 mix, on the other hand, may not be authentic, but it is well done nonetheless, with strong atmospherics, big, booming explosions, and thunderous rainstorms that really surround you.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:3/5]

The BFI doesn’t fail to impress with their inclusion of extensive, high quality, relevant extras for this release.

The supplements:

  • Director’s Cut and Theatrical Version
  • Hugh Hudson on Revolution (1.78:1; 1080i/50; 00:12:27)
  • Revisiting Revolution (DVD Only) – Al Pacino and High Hudson discuss their vision for Revolution.
  • DVD
  • Booklet: Deluxe booklet with essays by Nick Redman, Philip French, John Corigliano, Michael Brooke, Reviews, and a director biography.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Forget your misgivings about Pacino’s accent and who filmed what and where, Revolution is a moving wartime story from director Hugh Hudson. Hudson, who avoids much of the heavy-handed patriotic rhetoric that often detracts from most of the US films tackling this topic, is also very evenhanded in his portrayal. No one can really come away from this claiming misrepresentation. As per usual, the BFI’s release is an excellent way to add this to your collection.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:3/5]

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