The Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection
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Rodgers & Hammerstein Collection (Blu-Ray/8 Disc)
Celebrate the world’s most beloved movie musicals — The Rodgers & Hammerstein Blu-ray Collection contains all 6 films now together on Blu-ray™ for the first time ever! Each timeless film is in dazzling high definition for the ultimate home viewing experience. So every spectacular scene, every enchanting song, and every magical, memorable moment can be yours to cherish forever and share with your family.
8-Disc Set Includes: State Fair (1945), Oklahoma! (Todd-AO and CinemaScope™ Versions), The King and I, Carousel, South Pacific (Theatrical and Extended “Road Show” Versions) and The Sound of Music.
• State Fair
• Oklahoma - Todd-AO
• Oklahoma - Cinemascope
• King and I
• South Pacific Theatrical
• South Pacific Extended roadshow version
• Sound of Music
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"The King and I" has some terrific flashes of proper color, but much of it is too dark (again) with an odd blue tinge that flattens the contrast. When it isn't blue, it is at times a burnished yellow-copper that means well but, because of the brightness level, the king especially sometimes looks like he just stepped out of a mudbath. And look what happens to Irene Sharaf's fabulous costumes when you make the darker aspects darker still. Note how the subtle uniqueness of each of the costumes of the king's wives is wasted into shadow when they gather about Anna to check out her dress. Elsewhere, we see that all the jewelry glistens but we can't quite make out how any of it set into the costume or headgear. The transfer isn't always wrong in this respect. "The March of the Siamese Children" is close to perfect - lots of light with good color balance - which makes me wonder why so many other scenes are dialed down the way they are.
Please don't get me wrong - there is plenty to admire even in the darkness. "Uncle Tom's Cabin," surely the visual high point of the film, sustains some wonderful colors despite the subdued light - and the high-def imagery makes for exquisite movement: the rainstorm during Eliza's escape is stunning.
Also, here, as in all the new movies, the audio comes with considerably improved dynamics and clarity, at times revealing faults with the original mix, as with Yul Brynner's first "Who, who, who?" that just blows us out of the room, it's so disproportionally loud. Elsewhere, as in "Shall We Dance," there is a power and majesty completely in accord with the subject.
This is a flawed set: On the one hand we have the miracle of "Oklahoma! in Todd-A-O," for which, frankly, I had the lowest of expectations, and on the other, an entirely wrong-headed idea of what some of these musicals should look like on a proper home theater presentation. In my opinion, the most recent DVDs of "The King and I" and "State Fair" are considerably better - possibly, more accurate, certainly more pleasing and more consistent - in terms of color, brightness and contrast than the new Blu-rays, where Fox has turned glorious Technicolor into generic video. The Blu-rays all have much improved sound and superior resolution as compared to their DVD counterparts, but only "Oklahoma! in Todd-A-O" hits it out of the park.
Now, the Blu Rays themselves. Major disappointment. The worst treatment is "The King and I". The color temperature of the film is way off. The entire film has a heavy blue cast over it. At times the actors skin is actually blue. The continuity of color throughout camera angles also changes within scenes. There was no effort to restore this movie to give it the Blu Ray presentation it deserves. A good example is when Lady Thiang is singing "Something Wonderful". She goes from Bluish to even Bluer within the song. She could have easily been a character from "Avatar". It's a shame. These were important films during their time and were shot in CinemaScope 55. They were produced as close to perfection as technology at that time allowed. They are also important films to many people today and they should be preserved on Blu Ray the best possible way. It's a crime that this film was released on Blu Ray and nobody along the way caught an extremely obvious problem. The audio is also lifeless.
"Carousel", another CinemaScope 55 film is flat in color, audio and contrast. The 2006 collection on DVD looks much better. I've even seen VHS tapes with better coloring.
"State Fair" looks just like the DVD. Nothing special.
"South Pacific" and "Sound of Music" both are beautiful as they are the lovingly restored versions that were previously released on Blu Ray a couple years ago.
The only advantage to this set is "Oklahoma". Two versions of the film were shot simultaneously. One in Cinemascope and one in Todd AO. Up until now, the Todd AO version was in horrible shape. This set includes both versions. The restored Todd AO version was recently shown at the film festival in LA. It's stunning! The film pops right off the screen. The restoration is right in line with "Sound of Music" and "South Pacific". It's sad that they didn't give "King and I" and Carousel" the same treatment.
So, to sum things up. If you already have "Sound of Music" and "South Pacific" on Blu Ray, the only good addition in this set is the Todd AO "Oklahoma" which is also set to be released individually in fall. If you have the 2006 R&H DVD Collection, you already posses better looking copies of "King and I", "Carousel" and "State Fair".
After the long wait, you would think they had enough time to give us better quality. They are certainly charging for it. There is nothing on the labeling that says these films underwent restoration, but, you would think that they would have made an effort to render an improved film to Blu Ray. Instead, you are getting 2 films ("King and I" and "Carousel") that looked better when they were on videotape.