has an average rating of 7.1 on IMDb
1080p in VC-1 on a 50gb disc
Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
are a tad bit brief for a classic
– 171 minutes
This uses 26.1GB for the movie out of 27.7GB total.
Street Date: March 17th, 2009
Overall Verdict – Great Restoration
— Review written by: Danielle Byington —
A Clip from the Film:
The Movie Itself is Directed by Mervyn LeRoy, with the writing credits of S.N. Behrman (screenplay), Sonya Levien (screenplay), John Lee Mahin (screenplay), originally based on the 1895 novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz. The film is one of the well-known Biblical epics, followed by a continuing strew of “sword and sandal” movies primarily throughout the rest of the 1950′s and 1960′s, as it seemingly sparked an excitement in Hollywood for the creation of these said period films.
The story takes place in 64-68 A.D. inside of Rome. The citizens are under the rule of Emperor Nero (Peter Ustinov), portrayed in the film as a rather childish man, though, general audiences are also familiar with the reputation of his role in history as somewhat of a tyrant, being one of the more well-known figures against Christianity, and persecuting followers of the new faith. This is a main element in the plot, as some citizens of Rome are participating in discreet gatherings to listen to the gospel of Peter (Finlay Currie), and Paul (Abraham Sofaer).
Our main character of the story is Roman commander Marcus Vinicius (Robert Taylor), who has just returned home from the wars. At the home of his stay the first night back in Rome, he encounters a lovely young woman, Lygia (Deborah Kerr), whom he mistakes for a slave. She quickly corrects him as he begins to makes sexual advances, informing him that she is somewhat the daughter of the household, being adopted and taken in after being kidnapped from her father, a King. Marcus is slightly less pressing in his advances at the point, but in all of his divisions of persuasion, Lygia continues to deny him, being that she is a devout follower of Christianity. Lygia vaguely tries to impress upon Marcus the religion’s views and ideas, but it seems he sees it as moronic. Still highly fancied by the young woman, Marcus asks Nero to do him the favor of passing her over to himself, since she is technically a hostage. Obviously, Lygia is not happy about this at all, being informed by Marcus that she now belongs to him at one of Nero‘s lavish parties she was forced to attend.
Seeing no dignity in a man who must “possesses” a woman, Lygia runs away, with the help of her bodyguard, Ursus (Buddy Baer). At the advice of her adoptive parents, Marcus visits an astrologer to seek Lygia‘s whereabouts. He is taught briefly a bit more information of this religion of Christianity, and concludes she will be participating in one of the discreet meetings to hear the gospel of Peter, and Paul. Marcus attends, and sure enough Lygia is present. Coinciding with this secretive growth of Christians, Nero begins a destructive fire upon Rome, and in his insanity, blames it on the Christians, leading to the execution of the followers. Marcus is still unsure about this so-called philosophy, but his love for Lygia presses him to attempt to save her and her adoptive family.
Caught in the act of trying to rescue Lygia from persecution, Marcus is arrested, despite is militant rank in Rome. While imprisoned, Nero‘s wife, Poppaea (Patricia Laffan), has had a previous lust for the commander, and at his denial of her advances, she sentences his love interest to death in the arena by that of a raging bull. Lygia is still given a slim chance, that she may be defended by Ursus if he can stop the bull with no weapons. Marcus is sentenced to watch the gruesome event, and reluctantly prays, “Christ, give him strength”. With a life-saving outcome, the tides change as the citizens begin to see Nero as the villain.
Overall, this exquisite MGM (Warner) production was one of the first to inspire further Hollywood productions in the same manner, and similar time period, offering audiences a mental journey to lands they had not/would not ever visit, based on the homework they had in history class. This film may even hold a greater meaning nearly 60 years later, as this big screen story of a grand civilization’s corruption and decline in ways reflects what America is experiencing as a nation, now. This is one of elder Hollywood’s grand landmarks, providing inspiration for not only the soon to follow historical epics within the 1950′s and 1960′s, but even through current filmmaking. Overall, the movie itself receives a “4.5 Star Rating“.
Video Quality on this release is in full 1080p using the VC-1 codec on a BD-50 (50 gigabyte dual-layered Blu-ray Disc) in the 1.33:1 aspect ratio. It is truly impressive to play this release, a film that was subject to basically being lost from the damages of time, and view a film that is nearly 60 years of age that renders a higher amount of visual perfection than some of the other Blu-ray releases. The extremes of the Technicolor color palette have been generally significantly balanced, baring less of that categorizing film era look, and even giving it a presentation of a perhaps younger production. However, it does bare a couple of issues, the most noticeable being at the runtime of about 1 hour and 26 minutes through 1 hour and 30 minutes; here, the picture quality fluctuates slightly, slipping in and out of darker hues for a couple of seconds, then returning to normal. Also, during this same runtime period, there are brief moments in which the picture slightly appears not completely in focus, creating a bit of a smudgy appearance; however, this only last for a few seconds within this scene out of a nearly 3 hour long film. The black level is decently solid, and there is an understandable amount of film grain present, making for a time-realistic release, along with the, again, understandable small artifacts through out the decades-of-time raided film.
This film is visually impressive even with out regard to the immense effort put behind its restoration, as it was shot on location in Rome, giving the story the authentic feel as the production takes action on the grounds where the historical happenings occurs, and also holding the record for the largest number of costumes in a production, 32,000, an immense effort behind creating a visually accurate story. Obviously, special care has been given to the restoration of this epic film in general, and needless to say these same people who polished other features such as, “How the West Was Won“, have done a pleasing job with what was available, as the restoration’s Blu-ray release receives a “4.5 Star Rating“.
Audio Quality on this release is presented in Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono. This highly suiting audio track is conveyed with general clarity from the front center channel, providing a most authentic experience upon watching the film. All scenes crowded with the exceedingly large number of extras are portrayed brightly with their cheers, and the dialogue bares a clarity that does not show the film’s age. The only complaint one may have pertaining to the release’s audio track could possibly be the film’s era-fitting score, filled with large group vocals at times that slightly blare, even at reasonable volume levels. However, at least fans of classic cinema should be pleased with the given audio track, as it basically does a fitting job, receiving a “3.5 Star Rating“.
Bonus Materials on this release are presented in Standard Definition, using Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.
- “Commentary By F.X. Feeney” discusses the films trials of casting and pre-production obstacles, as well as the film’s impact on Hollywood afterward.
- “In The Beginning: ‘Quo Vadis’ And The Genesis Of The Biblical Epic” (44 minutes) is highly informative and definitely worth your time if you are a fan of classic cinema or this film in general; it covers discussions of the films productions, and its story drawing from the novel and previous productions, such as two silent film version from 1913 and 1925, of which there are clips included through out.
- “Trailers” (6 minutes) includes a theatrical trailer and a teaser trailer.
In closing, the bonus materials we get are non arguable, as the major supplement provides a 44 minutes featurette that fans and new audiences taking an interest in the film will surely appreciate, though I was personally disappointed, and believe those of us with an interest in classic cinema features coming to Blu-ray would have deeply appreciated a supplement covering further ground on the film’s restoration process.
Blu-ray Disc packaging:
NOTE: The full-sized 1920×1080 files are in a .PNG file format and uncompressed. Bare with the slow loading times, keep in mind these files are at least 1MB (1 megabyte) in size each.