‘Chaplin’ waddles on to American Region free Blu-ray with a variable 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. There doesn’t appear to have been much if any restoration work done to the film – or a great deal of digital clean up for that matter. We get the odd piece of dust and dirt on what is a reasonable print. It does suffer from softness on many of the darker interiors, but when it cuts to brightly lit exteriors it looks like a proper HD transfer again. The colour is somewhat muted on interiors too, aided and abetted by the directional lighting. It’s hard to believe that this is the look that the director wanted as it just doesn’t seem right. Contrast is rather limited and blacks aren’t always as deep as they might be. It’s a bit like watching a print that has survived a cinema circuit run – but without the scratches. Not the best transfer I’ve ever seen.
The audio on ‘Chaplin’ comes in a DTS-HD MA 2.0 flavour which ensures that dialogue is crisp and clear while John Barry’s score is kind to the ears. There’s not a great deal more to say about this mix except that it’s free from age related snap, crackle and pop – but it’s not really old enough to suffer from it. There are obviously no surround effects to distract the audience here. It’s just a good workmanlike track that outshines the picture quality – but that’s not really too much of a compliment.
The extras on 'Chaplin' use the Mpeg-4/AVC encoder but only take up a small area, roughly one sixth of the full screen size, positioned top left of frame - so perhaps something went wrong in the upconversion to HD. I've never actually seen this happen before, so thought it best to mention it.
Strolling Into the Sunset (SD, 7mins 30s) - Lord Attenborough tells us of the financing problems and the search for someone to play Chaplin including the tale of the madman who came to his office and walked away with the part. We hear how Robert Downey Jr immersed himself in the part, watching many original Chaplin movies to learn mannerisms and movements.
Chaplin the Hero (SD, 6 mins) - Lord Attenborough and others including Michael Chaplin (son of) consider the lasting appeal of Charlie Chaplin together with his ability as a performer and actor.
The Most Famous Man in the World ( SD, 5 mins 30s) - The same crew as above examine how Chaplin handled fame without forgetting his roots and retained a human simplicity which was necessary to portray his on screen character.
All at Sea Chaplin Home Movie (SD, 2 mins 30s) - Some nice B/W home movie footage of Chaplin larking about with friends, including Paulette Goddard, on a boat. It’s funny when he impersonates other stars with the help of a mop.
Trailer (SD, 2 mins) - Interesting to see how the movie was sold to audiences prior to its release.
Richard Attenborough’s ‘Chaplin’ comes to American Region free Blu-ray with a variable looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The image has a rather muted colour palette on interiors which also suffer from softness, but when it cuts to well lit exteriors it looks like a good, though not fantastic, HD transfer. The DTS-HD MA 2.0 audio does a workmanlike job of presenting clear dialogue and John Barry’s gentle score. A handful of shorts fill us in on some production detail and one of Chaplin’s home movies gives us an insight into Charlie’s clowning with friends on a boat. The movie, while chronicling the peaks and troughs of Chaplin’s career, is really all about one thing. Robert Downey Jr’s BAFTA winning performance of the ‘most famous man in the world’ which kicked off his big screen career. One for fans of both Charlie and great acting.
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