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The Conversation Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English DTS-HD 2.0 Mono (Original Theatrical Version)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, Spanish
  • Region: A (locked)
  • Rating: PG
  • Run Time: 113 Mins.
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: Lionsgate
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 25th, 2011
  • List Price: $24.99

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BestBuy.com:
The Conversation - Widescreen Subtitle AC3 Dts
Purchase The Conversation on Blu-ray 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]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4.5/5]

A gripping Orwellian thriller from Coppola’s 70’s heyday, The Conversation is a paranoid masterpiece that would fit perfectly into today’s connected world where privacy is quickly becoming an archaic concept.

The story of Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) a security expert and spy who values his privacy above all else, probably because of his eavesdropping day job, who takes on an assignment from a mysterious client known simply as, “the director” (Robert Duvall) to record two people having a conversation. Heavy with guilt from a previous assignment that resulted in people’s death, Harry becomes obsessed with this new case, and soon surmises that the woman from the conversation (Cindy Williams) is the director’s wife and the man (Frederic Forrest) one of his employees, and that the director is planning to have them killed. Harry then decides to try to save them himself, which drags him further into a complex web of intrigue.

The Conversation is right up there with other classic slow-burning thrillers like The French Connection or Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows as a film that must be seen.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

I had the fortune of being able to view this Lionsgate release and the forthcoming, October 31, 2011 UK release of the film from StudioCanal back-to-back. At first, both 1080p/24 AVC/MPEG-4 transfers seemed almost identical to me, but the longer I allowed the UK release to play, the more I realized it didn’t quite hold up to this one. This Lionsgate release isn’t perfect, it has a tendency toward heavy graininess at times and it has been opened to a fullscreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio – yikes! It should be at 1.85:1, but at least it hasn’t been cropped. Since the film was shot at 1.37:1, a 1.78:1 ratio merely opens the matte at the top and bottom to expose slightly more of the image. Still, purists might want to make sure their pacemakers are fully charged. As far as the overall image quality, it looks very film-like, with good contrast and deep blacks. Compare this to the StudioCanal release – which appears to be from the same master with a different transfer, due to the occurrence of the same source damage in particular frames – that is paler overall, with colors that seem a bit washed out, blacks on the greyer side, and somewhat pallid flesh tones in comparison.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Lionsgate has kindly offered both a newly remixed 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack and the original monaural theatrical mix in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 as well. Both have their strengths; the 5.1 mix is obviously fuller with more atmosphere and better sense of directionality, but the monaural mix is surprisingly engaging as well, and I found myself defaulting most of the time to the original theatrical mix, as it seemed to be more in line with the, closed-in feeling of paranoia that the film put forth. As a side note, I noticed that I did not hear as much clipping on this Lionsgate release as I did on the StudioCanal version, despite which mix I selected.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:4/5]

This release is loaded with supplements, all in high definition, including many archival featurettes and screen tests, plus lots of interviews with Coppola himself and, of course, the audio commentary with the legendary director. Videophiles and collectors might also like to know that this Lionsgate release and the StudioCanal release share the identical supplements, with the notable exception that the “No Cigar” featurette appears at 1080i here and in 1080p/24 on the StudioCanal release.

The supplements provided with this release are:

  • Audio commentary with director Francis Ford Coppola
  • Audio commentary with editor Walter Murch
  • Close-Up on “The Conversation” (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:08:39) – Archival making of featurette with Coppola and Gene Hackman.
  • Cindy Williams Screen Test (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:05:02)
  • Harrison Ford Screen Test (1.33:1; 108p/24; 00:06:45)
  • “No Cigar” (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:02:26) – Coppola talks about his early short film.
  • Harry Caul’s San Francisco — Then and Now (2.35:1; 1080p/24; 00:03:43) – This montage shows a comparison of the locations in the film between 1973 and the present (2011).
  • David Shire Interviewed by Francis Ford Coppola (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:10:57) – Coppola interviews the composer of the film’s score, David Shire, in this brief, but interesting segment.
  • Archival Gene Hackman Interview (1.33:1; 1080p/24; 00:04:04) – An on-set interview with Hackman from February 12, 1973.
  • Script Dictations from Francis Ford Coppola:
    • Introduction
    • Opening Sequence
    • The Life of Harry Caul
    • The Convention
    • Introduction to Frank Lovista
    • Jack Tar Hotel
    • Police Station Ending
  • Theatrical Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Another Coppola classic arrives on Blu-ray in an excellent package with a solid transfer. If you’ve never seen The Conversation or if you have and you love it, then this is the release for you. Recommended.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B005FUTBZA[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
The Conversation - Widescreen Subtitle AC3 Dts
Purchase The Conversation on Blu-ray 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]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:4/5]

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