South Pacific Blu-ray Review
'South Pacific' sings and dances its way on to Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer that's presented in widescreen 2.20:1, accurate to the format of the movie's 65mm original when released as a 70mm print.
The image is sharp without being unkind to the features of the actors and the lush colours of the Hawaiian island of Kaua'I are beautiful when not being tampered with by the use of filters. During the musical numbers, the filters result in almost fully saturated reds and yellows. I'm glad I saw this movie on Blu-ray, as I doubt if any other format could have resolved the colours. They must have bled all over the place and been very streaky on VHS. The added distraction of a soft centre spot filter occurs during many musical numbers to add to the confusion.
The blacks are like deep pools and the image has a density to it that I've only ever seen before on large format film.
There's a great relief on coming out of a musical number, so you can get back to seeing excellent skin tones.
The audio on 'South Pacific' is supplied as a DTS-HD lossless Master Audio 5.1 mix that uses the original 6 track stereo elements as its basis.
I was aware of some sound steering taking place with dialogue. When an actor was placed towards the left of the screen, the dialogue came from the left front speaker (a bit too far to the left) rather than locked to the centre. It, rather distractingly, made me look at the source of the speech. This would work perfectly for those with a perforated screen with the speakers placed behind it.
The musical numbers are well represented by the centre and main front stereo pair, creating a very pleasant sound image that's punchy without being shrill.
When Lt. Joe Cable and Emile De Becque are spotted by the Japanese, the sound of the aircraft engines overhead makes full use of all the surrounds.
It's not the kind of movie to use trouser leg flapping bass, but what there was certainly seemed in keeping with the on-screen action or singing.
Those with the hearing of a cat will spot the slight audio perspective changes when the dubbed singing voices come into play. I've never seen a movie with so many people having their singing done by someone else.
All in all, the sound is very clean and crisp. There's been some TLC given here to a movie that's half a century old.
There's quite a treasure trove of extras supplied with 'South Pacific', split between the two discs.
- Audio Commentary
Ted Chapin, President of the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organisation and the Musical Theatre Writer Gerard Alessandrini provide a fact filled commentary to accompany the movie. Together they give us a fascinating insight into the show and help fill in the background in a way that fans will love.
- Sing-A-Long Karaoke Subtitles (English only)
A boon for local operatic stars or simply for those who like to sing a long but can never remember the words to the all time great musical numbers.
- Songs-Only Option
If the musical numbers are all you really want to see then this feature will save you the effort of searching through the whole movie.
- Road Show version of the movie (HD, 172 mins)
When originally released, the movie was played continuously in selected theatres for a year and this is the version that was used. It has 15 minutes extra footage than the standard theatrical release. This has been restored to the new transfer, but you'll notice the difference (drop) in quality of the added footage which was taken from an original print.
- Audio Commentary
Film Historian Richard Barrios supplies us with a commentary that focuses more in the film than the show (as supplied on Disc 1), providing many fascinating titbits concerning the cast, crew and production details.
- Passion, Prejudice and South Pacific (HD, 94 mins)
A full length documentary that traces the origins of the stage musical, then the movie and investigates the themes explored in the story of 'South Pacific'. Presented by Mitzi Gaynor, we hear from the surviving cast and crew on the trials and fun of working on the picture.
- Making of South Pacific (480i, 14 mins)
This black & white promo was made back in 1958 and gives us a time travel trip to see how the world was at the time of the movie's release.
- 60 minutes Exclusive: The Tales of the South Pacific (480i, 22 mins)
A colour TV documentary (from a VHS tape by the looks of it) presented by Dianne Sawyer as writer James Mitchener returns to the island where he was based during World War 2, that provided the inspiration for his book upon which 'South Pacific' was based.
- Movietone News excerpts ( 480i, total 2 mins 30 s)
Two extracts from the Movietone News archive. One covers the premiere of the picture while the other looks at an honour bestowed upon the film by the US State Department in the oft imitated, but never bettered, Movietone style.
- Vintage Stage Show excerpts (480i, 9 mins)
Here we have a rare opportunity to see the original stage show stars Mary Martin & Enzio Pinza perform 'Gonna Wash that Man', 'Some Enchanted Evening' and 'A Wonderful Guy' in a period telerecording, produced by pointing a film camera at a high resolution (for the time) TV monitor.
- Mitzi Gaynor Screen Test (HD, 6 mins)
Many actresses were considered for the role of Nellie Forbush, but this surviving screen test clinched it for the star. It's turned magenta with age, but this adds to the authenticity as she sings 'A Cockeyed Optimist'.
- Original Theatrical Trailer (480i, 2 mins)
Just as it was before the film's release.
The all time classic Rodgers & Hammerstein movie musical 'South Pacific' arrives on Blu-ray with a first class 1080p AVC/Mpeg-4 transfer accurately framed at 2.20:1.
The picture looks better than it has in many a year in this fully restored high definition version with lush island colours and good skin tones.
The transfer copes well with the optically filtered musical numbers which are part and parcel of this blockbuster of its day
The DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio makes the most of the original 6 track stereo providing clean crisp vocals with lively musical numbers that sound superb for a movie that's 50 years old.
The extras provide a fascinating insight into the production and we even see some footage of the original stage show, upon which the movie is based.
A must have for all movie musical fans.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £21.69
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- Audio Commentary