Sony Home Entertainment has dropped 'Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb' on to UK Region free Blu-Ray with a good looking 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the theatrically correct 1.66:1 aspect ratio.
We are given a sharp and detailed image throughout with good contrast and nice, deep blacks. Kubrick seemed to like grainy black & white footage, so we are treated to a noticeable amount on screen but you soon get used to it and it's not intrusive. It varies in the exterior shots of the attack on the air force base near the end as orthochromatic film was used to achieve a documentary feel along with handheld Arriflexes (movie cameras). No doubt there will be arguments over the grain or lack of DNR usage, but the resultant image looks good. The transfer is generally free from blemishes although in some effects shots I did spot a few marks. You get the feeling that Kubrick would have wanted it this way.
The audio on 'Strangelove' comes in two flavours. For the purists we have the original mono mix which features crisp, clear dialogue and generally sounds 'in period'. Alternatively we are offered a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track to bring it up to date sonically. I notice the use of the surrounds in the shots of aircraft interior of the B52 bomber and they added to the echo of the War room slightly. For the rest of the time the mix was very front weighted and offered little more than the mono track.
Dialogue never suffered from the use of the surrounds, thankfully, but in the end I think I preferred this new mix. It just sounded a bit nicer to my ears. Blasphemy, I know - but there you have it.
- The Cold War: Picture in Picture and Pop-up Trivia Track.
Here we get a pretty good pop-up trivia track which has some interesting facts and figures appearing on your screen at regular intervals. We see some brief snippets from defence advisers of the time as well as people who explain their involvement in defining the technical specifications for many Cold War weapons. It's bound to be of interest to historians researching the period.
- No Fighting in the War Room Or: Dr. Strangelove and the Nuclear Threat. (SD, 30 mins)
This interesting featurette has people like Roger Ebert, Robert McNamara and James Harris putting forward their views on Kubrick and Dr. Strangelove. They cover the movie as well as the political mentality of the time and the occasions the world came to the brink of nuclear war. Most fascinating is McNamara with his insights on the American government he was working for at the time the movie was released.
- Inside 'Dr Strangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb'. (SD, 46 mins)
This is a good chunky documentary on the making of Dr. Strangelove which covers the conception, the research, the book the screenplay was based on and its development for the big screen. We hear about the choice of actors, the work of production designer Ken Adam in bringing the War Room to life. The deleted custard pie fight is mentioned with some stills to prove that it really existed.
- Best Sellers Or: Peter Sellers and Dr. Strangelove. (SD, 18 mins)
Sir David Frost introduces this short doco on Sellers' life by telling us he was a genius and others like film critic Alexander Walker provide their input along the same lines. We hear that Sellers never really showed his own personality, only those of the characters he was playing at the time. Nice but sad as he died relatively young.
- The Art of Stanley Kubrick: From Short Films to Strangelove. (SD, 13 mins)
Here we have a very brief look at the life and career of Kubrick himself. It can only hope to be a quick summary but we get some insight into the man and what drove him.
- Interview with Robert McNamara.(SD, 24 mins)
This is an extended version of the clips used in the above featurettes and it's worth watching to hear about political life in the early sixties, the conflicts between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., the nuclear firepower and the policies that each held.
- Split Screen Interviews with Peter Sellers and George C. Scott. (SD, 7 mins)
This is an interesting item as it shows a publicity item that studios used to produce that we don't see these days. A scripted interview with the stars with one half of the screen blanked out would be sent to TV stations, so they could insert their interviewer asking the questions on the other half of the screen.
Stanley Kubrick's 'Dr Strangelove Or: How I learned to Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb' drops in on Region free Blu-ray with an AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The black & white photography looks good with a veil of grain throughout the picture which adds to the atmosphere of the film. We have a sharp, contrasty image with deep blacks to enjoy.
The audio comes in both the original mono mix as well as a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 surround track. Both feature crisp, clear dialogue in a front weighted soundstage with light use of the surrounds in the more modern track.
An interesting clutch of documentaries covering the film, Sellers, Kubrick and the Cold War make this one for movie buffs and historians alike.
As a movie, it's a sharply funny satire on the Cold War era with Peter Sellers playing multiple roles amid a great cast including George C Scott, Sterling Hayden and Slim Pickens. One for every film buff's collection.
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