‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ flies on to UK Region free Blu-ray with a beautiful looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer. The widescreen 2.20:1 aspect ratio gives a clue to the fact that a 70mm source has been used, resulting in a very clean and sharp image with real density and an absence of noticeable film grain. The picture has an amazing depth to it with good, strong contrast throughout. Skin tones look nice and healthy while the grass around the Potts’ windmill appears particularly verdant. When Chitty emerges from the barn she positively sparkles in the sunshine, her red wheels glisten with new red paint while the polished aluminium bonnet and brass headlamps look quite stunning. In the night shots, we’re treated to deep, solid blacks. The crowd scenes at the Baron’s castle reveal breathtaking amounts of detail. During the ‘Truly Scrumptious’ number, the texture of the rocks of the French coastline is such that you feel you could almost reach out and touch them. Nice job!
The audio on ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ comes in a newly remixed DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround track which makes the most of the musical numbers in the movie. The new dub, no doubt, used the original 6 track stereo elements to produce a rich, full bodied sonic image with clear dialogue. There’s no age related hiss, snap, crackle or pop here. The image uses the front centre and sides mostly but the string section of the orchestra seems to take to the skies as the car soars. Surround sound addicts will be mightily impressed by the opening of the film where the vintage racing cars fire up their engines and sonically race around the room in a seamless use of the 7.1 speakers. This is what I call a ‘sound treat’ which is heightened by the fact that it plays over a black screen. You could shut your eyes and imagine yourself at Brooklands in its heyday. A real pleasure of a listen.
The version reviewed was the Combo pack so it includes the Blu-ray and the DVD on separate discs. I’d hoped the bonus material would include the re-union featurette that was shown on TV a few years ago as it was great to see the children all grown up – as well as the lovely Sally Ann Howes as she is today – but sadly not. However, we do get the following – including a couple of games that appear to be deemed necessary.
For budding musical stars, here’s your chance to sing along with the musical numbers with the lyrics superimposed along the bottom of the screen Karaoke style. You can opt to use it with the entire movie or just the songs. Oh Chitty you, pretty Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ....
- Music Machine
For those who just want to get to the songs without having to watch the whole movie, this is right up your street. Basically the same function as the option in the Singalong but without the superimposed lyrics.
- Driving Game
Here’s something to keep the kids amused. You have to steer Chitty through the course using the arrow keys on your remote without crashing as you race to the finish line. Crash three times and it’s ‘Game Over’. There are four different courses to tackle. Beware women drivers.
- Toot Sweet Toots Musical Maestro
Another game to play involving a candy contraption that appears 6 times throughout the movie. You need to remember the order in which the candy items move to the music, then when the green light comes on you have to enter the same pattern using the coloured buttons on the remote. Sheesh! Give me ‘Snakes & Ladders’ any day.
- Remembering ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ with Dick Van Dyke (SD, 26 mins)
Just as the title says, we have Dick Van Dyke sitting in a Preview theatre relating his reminiscences from the point where he became first involved to his approach to the character of Caractacus Potts. We hear about how the casting of Sally Ann Howes came about, the problems with the inventions on set and filming with the car.
Interesting and not too long.
- A Fantasmagorical Motorcar (SD, 10 mins)
Pierre Picton tells us how he became involved with the car and how he bought it from Cubby Broccoli in 1973. It now regularly appears at events throughout the UK.
- Sherman Brothers’ Demos
This is the audio Demo tape (found by MGM researchers) that was produced during pre-production by Richard & Robert Sherman of the songs for the movie. At this stage they were in draft form, although still very recognisable.
- The Ditchling Tinkerer (SD, 10 mins)
A vintage featurette about eccentric Rowland Emmett who designed and built the inventions used in the movie, supposedly created by Caractacus. Looks like a fuzzy 16mm print.
- Dick Van Dyke Press Interview (SD, 9 mins)
Seated at the wheel of the car, the star does his best to put up with the dim questions of an American TV Journo. Star quality means being able to smile even when you’ve had enough – even when you’re asked about the quality of American TV.
- The Potts Children’s Featurette (SD, 3 mins)
A behind the scenes clip involving Heather Ripley & Adrian Hall, mostly voiced by the young boy. 8mm Home movie quality footage complete with tram lines.
- Photo Gallery
As it says on the tin, a collection of really nice colour stills from the production.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 mins)
A pretty rough old print has been transferred here. Makes you realise just how good the main feature is in terms of quality.
- French Version Theatrical Trailer (SD, 3 mins)
You have just got to see this – the French trying to make sense of English eccentricity. The songs translated and sung in Franglais.
- 5 TV Spots (SD, 4 mins)
Various hack downs of the trailer to shoehorn into TV ad slots.
That fantasmagorical, fuel burning oracle ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ soars onto UK Region free Blu-ray with a truly scrumptious 1080p AVC/Mpeg-4 transfer framed in the 70mm widescreen 2.20:1 aspect ratio. The movie looks absolutely spotless with great colour, contrast and detail throughout. The image has a solidity and depth that makes you want to step right into it.
The audio has been remixed into DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround and brings life and depth to the musical numbers, while dialogue is crisp throughout. Listen out for the opening roar of car engines.
An interesting collection of vintage featurettes, trailers and a recent interview with Dick Van Dyke round off the package nicely.
As a movie, it’s great fun with Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Gert Frobe and a host of 1960’s British character actors in the Ian Fleming musical tale of the flying car. Fly off to Vulgaria tonight!
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