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For its Blu-ray release, South Pacific underwent a complete photochemical restoration of its original 65mm negative, and underwent an 8k high definition scan of the brand new interpositive. For the first time in high definition, you can enjoy Leon Shamroy's widescreen photography of the Hawaiian locations and be dazzled by director Joshua Logan’s famous filtered sequences. The original soundtrack will, for the first time ever, be presented in uncompressed, Lossless DTS audio.
Sing-along Karaoke Subtitles; Songs-Only Option;
Extended "Road Show" Version Of Film
Audio Commentary By Richard Barrios
Passion, Prejudice And South Pacific: Documentary; The Making Of
Diane Sawyer Interview With James Michener
Vintage Stage Excepts Featuring Performances By Mary Martin And Ezio Pinza
Mitzi Gaynor Screen Test
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Now, about the movie...
This movie is a classic. It has a great story that is nicely paced (considering it's 2.5 hours... pretty long by today's standards) and has a beautiful soundtrack. This was probably the high water mark for Rodgers & Hammerstein as far as movies go.
The color and audio are indredibly rich--many would say it's completely over the top, but that's part of the charm. Likewise, the song and dance routines initially seem more appropriate for a stage than a movie, but if you just go with it, I promise in short time you will be won over. The movie is so visually entertaining and has such a great story and soundtrack that this is one you will watch again and again.
The multi-format package is very convenient. We have a Blu-Ray player at home and the higher resolution is appreciated there, but having the DVD is great for road trips. In this day of ever-changing agreements between the movie rights-holders and the streaming services such as Amazon and Netflix, it's nice to have a physical copy that you can go back to any time.
First off, be warned: This movie starts out with NO PICTURE at all, just an instrumental soundtrack of the film's many songs playing over a completely blank screen. Just know that this is NOT your disc player or a streaming problem; it is made that way, and if you sit it out for a few minutes ( or advance ahead if you don't want to listen to the glorious soundtrack), the picture comes along and then the credits begin to roll. As another reviewer noted, that's the way the movie was made! It's something they used to do with big motion pictures with spectacular orchestral soundtracks back in the 50's, playing this "overture" in the theater while people are taking their seats and before the picture starts up. Same deal with the "intermission" midway through the film. Just enjoy a few minutes of listening to the music while you take a quick bathroom break and run to the snack bar without having to pause the movie. The movie really should have some kind of warning about this when you buy or rent it, because so many people these days would have no idea that that's why they're getting sound with no picture, and I bet countless younger viewers have been fooled and frustrated by this, and waste their time or money on trying other formats or players, or simply give up and return the movie.
The other not-so-groovy thing about seeing this movie in its remastered or HD digital version is that is has some VERY distracting, over-the-top, cheesy coloration issues that seriously brought it down a notch or two in my eyes. Even though it was already made in Technicolor and contained a lot of gorgeous colorful scenery and cinematography, it seems they got the not-so-bright idea of changing the hue of the scenes in which some of the songs are being sung by the characters, and also giving a large area of the picture a fuzzy/blurred-out, soft vignetting around the edges framing the singer. Cheesy. Just cheesy, I'm afraid. Distracting and unnecessary, so it constantly drew attention to itself.
The hue-altering first came in on the song "Bali Hai", when Bloody Mary was sing about this magical, mystical island, so I thought maybe the subtle color change over the whole picture was meant to have that effect for that scene only, but then the color change became so extreme and UN-subtle that you start to realize this must be computer-generated tinkering for effect, and the colors go way too extreme, swinging from all-over purple to way too greenish-yellow during the song, until it feels like some amateur was just fooling with the basic color adjustments in a cheap video app. It was a relief when the song ended and normal color ranges returned to the screen. Unfortunately, they do this silly effect again repeatedly on other songs, where any magical, mystical island effects have nothing to do with it, so it just serves no good purpose. Ugh.
As for the blurring around the edges during musical numbers, same thing. Distracts from the original film, which should be thought of as a stage play brought to the "big screen" to really appreciate what you're looking at to begin with, so seeing anything about it that looks like special effects layered onto it just kind of pops you out of the good old fashioned place you're trying to put your mind in to enjoy this in the first place.
It is, after all, very old fashioned, as a story set in World War II and produced in the late fifties. This movie is a pretty fun romp I f you like to spend a couple of fairly light-hearted hours immersing yourself in that bygone era when women (or "girls") were called "dames" and the idea of people bursting into song every two minutes onscreen was much more common, so why remind the viewer repeatedly that they're seeing a new, updated copy of this film, which is, keep in mind, really a pretty out-of-date vehicle for singing, acting, storytelling and expressions in dialogue that you'd never see in today's movies. For an old classic like this, it's all about "suspension of disbelief." The music is fun, the lyrics are admirable, the acting is old-style, the stereotypes are not today's version of PC, but it's Rogers & Hamm at their best -- you know what you're getting here; if you're into that, or willing to check it out (and be prepared for these old-style musicals to be much slower paced than today's blockbusters), just enjoy the ride for what it is. That's the way I view it, anyway, so I just feel the after-the-fact adding on of PhotoShop-like effects is anachronistic and annoying.
All that said, I still find this to be a fine example of a fun musical from the heyday of big picture musicals, filled with a lot of good songs that stand the test of time, memorable characters, and great scenery, and would recommend it. And if you know where to find an un-retouched version of it, probably even better.
Currently going round and round with Fox to see if they will still provide me with the Digital Copy.
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South Pacific is one of the few films shot in 70mm Todd-AO and the movie has been faithfully transferred.Read more