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It's A Wonderful Blu-Ray,
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This review is from: It's a Wonderful Life [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
If you are reading this review you likely already know and love this movie. For me, it is the epitome of holiday movies with great acting along with a terrific script and tight direction. If you have never seen it in some ways I envy you - just buy it and enjoy!
As I was growing up this film was shown repeatedly on television as it had lapsed into the public domain. Somehow, it was retrieved from public domain with some legal wrangling - and though at first I thought of that as a bad thing the quality of the film has benefited now that there is money to be made on this old classic. The initial DVDs available for this film from the public domain era were very poor quality and only recently were better scans completed. That process has been taken to "the nth degree" for the blu-ray release.
For this review I did watch the first few minutes of the Republic Pictures DVD version which last time I checked into this was the best transfer available. I recall when first seeing it that it was far superior to other versions and light-years ahead of the worn prints that used to be shown on TV. I played it on an upscaling player (actually my Sony Blu-Ray player). I then put in the Blu-Ray version and I was blown away at the improvement. The quality is really striking with facial detail and readable text, for example, on the bottles in Mr. Gower's Pharmacy. The print is totally clean and is as others have pointed out shown in the correct aspect ratio in which it was made. This means there are black bars at the sides on a wide-screen TV and this is normal and how it should be. To fill a wide screen TV would mean either stretching things so that the thin James Stewart starts to look more like Alfred Hitchcock or cutting off the top and bottom of the picture. Either of those options would go a long way toward destroying this classic. Sound quality is also excellent and clean.
As I write this I am watching the colorized version which I feel is less impressive. While colorization has come a long way and looks less like paint-by-numbers than it used to it is still obviously added color and just distracting for us purists that love the original B&W. That said, I wonder if the colorized version will be something that might make this film more accessible to kids (though I am planning on showing the original to my 5 and 7 year old kids!)
All in all, this is a fantastic buy and is a must-have for those that love this film and have a blu-ray player. I highly recommend it.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 1, 2010 10:18:33 AM PST
Thanks for a great review, Robert. I'll buy this now, and hope they come out with a good B&W release someday also.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2010 12:42:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 3, 2010 12:43:27 PM PST
Mandarin Mac says:
FYI: You'll be happy to know this Blu-ray release include both B&W and colorized versions of the film. See a good review at http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/2653/itsa
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2010 2:24:37 PM PST
Thanks, Mac, that's a great review--nice of you to post it. Just received the movie, and after reading that review I can't wait to watch it tonight.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2010 7:55:09 PM PST
T. Marquand says:
Is there a widescreen version of this movie in the Blu-ray set?
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2010 8:06:14 PM PST
Robert Stone says:
No, the version included is done in the original aspect ratio since films were not made in widescreen aspect ratios at that time. You can likely adjust the controls on your TV to fill the screen by various means (stretching and zooming) if you wish to.
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 24, 2010 8:57:27 PM PST
T. Marquand says:
Thank you for your response.
So, there is no widescreen version of "It's A Wonderful Life"?
In reply to an earlier post on Dec 25, 2010 8:14:30 AM PST
Robert Stone says:
Nope - never will be. This is the version with all the information from the original print.
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 5, 2011 1:15:12 PM PST
Gregorian Chanter says:
The Blu-ray version is not wide screen, but it seems to me that it is a bit wider than other old movies I have seen on Blu-ray shot at academy ratio (11:8 = 1.375, not 1.37 as is often stated). It seems that these other movies were presented at 4:3 = 1.33 ratio, which is the standard definition TV ratio. There is certainly room on a 16:9 = 1.778 ratio high-def screen to present an academy ratio film at its proper aspect ratio.
In reply to an earlier post on Sep 7, 2012 8:40:14 PM PDT
G. M. Schoditsch says:
Here, here! Most people think "Full Screen" means 4:3 ratio where as almost all movies from 1932 to 1953 were academy ratio (11:8 = 1.375).
Nice technical commentary GC...
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2014 8:33:43 AM PST
For goodness sake....why worry about 0.005?