‘Dead Poets Society’ comes to American Region free Blu-ray with a good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The title sequence may look a tad soft but this is down to the optically produced titles rather than the transfer. Once we’re out of the titles we get the clarity and sharpness we’d associate with a High Def image, without it appearing clinical. It has a wonderfully filmic look and the careful lighting by John Seale is treated with some respect. Skin tones look natural and the autumnal shades of leaves provide real eye candy. Contrast is healthy throughout and we get some nice deep blacks in the night shots. You couldn’t really claim that there’s a 3D ‘pop’ to the image, but then that’s not the style of the piece. The transfer comes from a very clean source print with no dirt, dust or scratches to ruin the visual appeal. There is a fine veil of grain throughout that only becomes noticeable in some darker shots – but hey, it was shot on 35mm film in the late 1980’s. Generally, this is rather a nice looking transfer.
The audio on ‘Dead Poets Society’ comes in the DTS-HD MA 5.1 flavour which provides us with wonderfully clear dialogue – a good job too, as it’s mostly speech led. There’s very nice stereo across the front soundstage, reserved mostly for the score and some panning as cars move from right to left. There’s not a great deal of use of the surrounds, just the occasional effect, but this movie doesn’t hail from the blockbuster school of sound mixing – thank goodness. I recall seeing this film in the cinema and it was released with a stereo mix, rather than surround – so the new mix stays largely true to the original. There’s not a great deal of work for the subwoofer to do but there’s enough bass to add gravitas to the serious moments as well as the film’s climax. A very workmanlike mix that doesn’t set out to be the star of the movie.
Audio Commentary – We hear from Director Peter Weir, Cinematographer John Seale, and Academy Writer Thomas Schulman on this interesting commentary. They tend not to tell us what’s going on in each scene but provide us with anecdotes and production details about the film.
‘Dead Poets’: A Look Back (SD, 27mins) -- The cast of ‘Dead Poets Society’ look back on their experience of working with Director Peter Weir. They compare him to the inspirational teacher in the film and clearly hold him in some kind of awe. Sadly, Robin Williams isn’t around to add to the back slapping. The featurette gets a bit boring after 10 minutes.
Raw Takes (SD, 5mins) – These are unedited takes that were shot as part of a sequence that was deleted from the final film. After the performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Mr Keating visits the boys in the cave is persuaded to take part in a meeting of the Dead Poets.
Master of Sound: Alan Splet (SD, 11 mins) – Peter Weir opens this salute to the work of sound designer Alan Splet. We hear of his perfectionism and ability to create just the right sound. David Lynch and others contribute.
Cinematography Master Class (SD, 15 mins) – This is a fascinating featurette on the construction and lighting of the boys dormitory set. We see the thought process of lighting cameraman John Seale as he controls the quality and density of the light on the set. Excellent for those who want to learn.
Theatrical Trailer (SD, 3 mins). – Yup, it’s a trailer alright. The ‘Voice Over’ tells the story and we get the best bits of Robin Williams’ performance.
The Robin Williams drama ‘Dead Poets Society’ from 1989 comes to American Region free Blu-ray with a very good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer, framed in the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
Colour and contrast are good throughout in this sharp, filmic transfer that treats the lighting of cinematographer John Seale with careful respect.
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround mix delivers crisp, clear dialogue throughout while the surrounds are reserved for the occasional effect and the main stereo pair serve the rather thin score well.
The bonus material comprises an interesting commentary as well as a handful of production mini featurettes.
The film features arguably Robin Williams’ best serious performance to date, but he’s not allowed to steal the movie from the mostly young cast in this tale of an inspirational teacher who encourages his students to ‘seize the day’.
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