Unforgiven Blu-ray Review
PictureThe disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen 2.4:1 1080p transfer with the VC-1 codec. On the whole this is a good solid transfer with only some very slight marring. First up the detail is quite excellent throughout and there are plenty of glorious landscape shots to show this to the full. In fact, the very first scene, the tree, shack and Munny digging the grave are pin point against the sunset. Moving on the other distance shots, all are postcard clear; the distant hills, the rolling pastures, the bleak scrubland; move close to the foreground to witness grasses, trees, horse hair, clothing weave, skin imperfections, take a look at the ghastly wall paper in the whores bedroom; it's pristine; this is just about as good as detail gets.
Colours are rather bland, but that is due to the pallet rather than the transfer, all browns and drab greens, however they are bold and solid. Check out the blues of the sky though, such depth and vividness, check also the oranges of the sunsets, beautifully rendered.
Brightness and contrast are set very well for the most part, external shots, particularly daytime, have a very nice depth to frame showing of some nice rich blacks, this is also true for the night time shots, especially in the rain, with some deep blacks with detail still prevailing. When it comes to the inside though things do tend to muddy up a little, blacks are still black mind, just that the detail tends to get a little lost as things flatten up a bit.
There is no problem with the original print, it's as clean as a whistle with no damage or grain to contend with. Digitally too there is very little to report, no compression problems or posterization, though there was some faint edge enhancement seen in a couple of places, but nothing to get too worked up about. A fine print.
SoundThree sound tracks to choose from, but all plane Dolby Digital 5.1 (@640 Kbps), English, French and Latin-Spanish. The track is very subtle and makes sparing usage of the surround stage; the surrounds piping up to add ambiance with thunder, rain, trains and some bar scene noises, but they won't have a thorough work out. It is the front that manages the bulk of the track with some nice stereo effects from galloping horses, directionality given to gun shots and dialogue. There is a full range with some decent enough bass, this gives everything a natural sound to it, including vocals, but there are precious few LF effects. Though I never really missed it, so subtle was its influence that gunshots and thunder came rolling across as apposed to thumping in your face, it was refreshing.
The score does get the all the speakers singing, not aggressively, rather sweeping melodies that place you in the centre of the stage. I found the whole track absorbing if never actually room shaking; perfectly suited to the film it plays too. Ok, it is a shame there is no HD track, though so subtle is the mix that I'm not sure what would have been gained by such an inclusion.
ExtrasFirst up there is an audio commentary with film critic, friend and biographer to Eastwood, Richard Schickel. The man is obviously very knowledgably about his subject, he was also on set during the filming, so he exudes information at a phenomenal rate, however, his delivery is not particularly enthralling, plus there are many gaps. It can make to tiring listening, but if you stick it out or are a die hard Eastwood fan, you will be rewarded.
Next up is Eastwood on Eastwood, a mammoth 108 minute documentary produced and directed by Schickel and narrated by John Cusack. This is an extremely rewarding piece and delves deep into the career that is Eastwood in an extended one on one interview format liberally spiced up with film clips throughout his years in the business. Although not Unforgiven specific this is nevertheless hugely entertaining and has a great deal of information on the man himself, as told by the man himself.
Next up is a twenty minute featurette entitled All on Accounta Pullin' a Trigger. Very much an entertainment channel ad for the film containing more film clips than original content; does, however, contain sound bites from the likes of Eastwood, Freeman and Hackman.
Following this is the rather more substantial Eastwood & Co, running at about twenty five minutes this does a reasonable job of a behind the scenes look at the making of the film and at least manages to get across what Eastwood was trying to achieve with the film.
Eastwood... A Star is a curious sixteen minute piece on Eastwood that I'm not sure is all about, we all know he's a star we don't need an advert to tell us; plays out like an Eastwood for dummies, best ignored.
The last feature is an episode of the TV series Maverick entitled Duel at Sundown featuring Eastwood. Contrast this with the film if you will...
Finally is the theatrical trailer.
VerdictA lot has been said about Unforgiven in the years since its release and all of it good; you don't need me to tell you that. It rightly won many awards and achieved something so many films fail to; it gets you to think; not only about what you've just witnessed, but about a genre whole and the ruthlessness that that whole entailed.
As a Blu-ray package Warner have certainly come up with the goods, ok there are no new extras for this release, but with such an all encompassing package, little else is needed. Picture is excellent and sound is good and both show of this film to its best.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £17.97
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