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Billy Budd

91 customer reviews

Additional DVD options Edition Discs
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(Mar 06, 2007)
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$19.98 $11.00
(Aug 01, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Adapted from the last book written by Herman Melville an allegory of good vs. evil with innocence standing by as the helpless victim. A naive young man is pressed into the service of the British Navy at the very end of the 18th century. He views first hand the cruelty and extreme brutality of the ship's sadistic master-at-arms and accidentally kills him. He is then tried for his murder.System Requirements:Running Time: 123 Mins.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA Rating: NR UPC: 085391108016 Manufacturer No: 110801

Special Features

  • Commentary by Terence Stamp and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Ryan, Peter Ustinov, Melvyn Douglas, Paul Rogers, John Neville
  • Directors: Peter Ustinov
  • Writers: Peter Ustinov, DeWitt Bodeen, Herman Melville, Louis O. Coxe, Robert H. Chapman
  • Producers: A. Ronald Lubin
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Unknown)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 6, 2007
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KJU182
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,285 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Billy Budd" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 70 people found the following review helpful By S. Bernard on March 9, 2007
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First off, let me make sure that it is clear my review refers to the March 6, 2007 release of Billy Budd from Warner Bros. for the reasonable price of about $15. I pre-ordered it before March 6th & it arrived today. I am ecstatic. In fact, I have a confession to make; I invited all the reviewers on this page to be my friend, just so I could message them & let them know about this new release. I have also uploaded a pict of the cover from the DVD to help distinguish it from that other awful copied version.


Like many, I saw this movie when I was young and it made a great impression on me- I have never forgotten it. I was in 10th grade in literature class and that was about 24 years ago (holy smokes!) This movie, adapted from the Herman Melville story is about many things- its complexity and nuances are something wonderful to behold. I have read the story and seen the movie & I must say, I prefer Ustinov's adaptation to the book. I think Ustinov did a more than masterful job of acting, directing, producing and writing. Not many people can wear 4 "hats" so very well. I personally have always felt this was his opus magnum- and I've heard it was a personal favorite of his. To me he captures so much of the struggle of what it is to be human in every frame of this movie. From the every day struggles of dignity to the struggle between the law and justice.

The acting by all is wonderful. Terrance Stamp's screen debut is perfect. His understated way is just what Billy needed. Robert Ryan is the perfect villain- why? Because he is HUMAN- like us all, he struggles with his own demons- his are just closer to the surface than most.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful By K. Gittins on August 16, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Billy Budd" is based on Herman Melville's last novel, and is a story of morality, military duty and social responsibility.

Except for the first few minutes on another ship, the movie takes place on a British man-o-war, in 1797. The British ship stops a merchant ship and impresses the young naive Billy into the British navy, which is at war with France. Billy is soft-spoken and outgoing, and soon makes friends with the crew. However, he unknowingly gets on the bad side of the sadistic master-at-arms Claggart, until Billy is falsely accused of mutiny by him. Stammering and unable to form a verbal response, Billy reflexively hits Claggart and accidentally kills him. Now, sympathetic Captain Vere and a board of inquiry must decide Billy's fate.

The movie is perfectly acted by all, especially Peter Ustinov (who also directed) as Captain Vere, Robert Ryan as Claggart, and Terence Stamp in his critically-acclaimed first role, as Billy Budd.

This is an excellent movie that deserves a better, and/or cheaper, DVD. The "digitally mastered" phrase referring to this DVD only means it uses binary "1"s and "0"s, not that the picture is enhanced or even any good. In fact the otherwise nice black-and-white photography suffers from whatever old print the DVD was made from, as the whites tend to glow, and the contrast and image quality are pretty soft. This expensive DVD is in fact so cheap there is not even a menu, much less a trailer, subtitles or any other extra.

This is a first rate movie on a poor DVD. Still, I'm glad I have it in my collection. You will be, too.

Edit: Warner has released an excellent version. Get that one.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By The Bruce on June 26, 2002
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I first saw this many years ago...a truly excellent and thought-provoking film.

When Billy Budd accidentally kills a sadistic officer on-board ship, the captain is forced to lay charges under wartime Naval law. In the process he unleashes larger issues about good and evil, and condemning a good man using "just the facts". If you liked the courtroom scene in The Caine Mutiny, you will find this fascinating.

March 9, 2007: Wouldn't you know it! I had this DVD pre-ordered and tracked its progress hourly by the USPS website to my front door. But when I arrived home it was nowhere to be found...someone made off with it(!) I have never had any mail stolen before...luckily a replacement is on the way (perhaps the thief will watch it, see themselves in Claggart and amend their ways....)
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By T. P. Lewis on December 5, 2006
Format: DVD
Yes, you are correct. The video quality of this DVD you own is atrocious. That is because you have been DUPED. That is because it is a BOOTLEG. I have been tracking the progress of a potential DVD release of this movie since the time I bought my very first DVD player. Unfortunately for the general public, back in June of 2002, the rights to this masterpiece fell into the hands of Allied Artists Entertainment. (See my scathing review of those clowns below). They came up with the ingenious idea to release this classic on a low quality, dying format (VHS). But my patience has finally paid off, as Warner Brothers will be releasing a full length, unedited, restored, anamorphic widescreen version on DVD in March of 2007. Well, folks, I'm very sorry you fell for this one but don't feel bad as this was a well orchestrated scam. Hey look, even fell for it! I believe this junk was first made available on a seedy website called MoviesUnlimited. I guess Amazon wanted a piece of the action and took the bait. As a reputable online store (it's where I shop), Amazon should immediately pull this from their site. But c'mon folks, what were ya thinkin when it arrived in the mail...the cover art's scanned from the VHS box, the disc itself has no label on it, the recorded side is Purple, and the disc contains no menus or chapter stops. Did ya think it might have been good idea to return it immediately??? But fear not. In just four months all of us Billy Budd fans can finally rejoice together. Take care.
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