Gagarin: First in Space AKA Gagarin. Pervyy v kosmose
R2 - United Kingdom - Entertainment One
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (9th June 2014).
The Film

***This is a technical review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?

In 1961 Yuri Gagarin blasted off from Vostok, Russia to become the first man in space. It was a mission fraught with danger as he rocketed into unknown territory and an uncertain fate. Part of an elite squad of cosmonauts, Gagarin rose through the ranks his awe-inspiring bravery setting him apart as the best of the best.

At last the epic story of this visionary pioneer is brought to the screen in Gagarin, an awe-inspiring story of what can happen when you reach for the stars.

"Gagarin: First in Space" is a beautifully realised and magnificently shot space saga that tells the true story of the man whose heroism opened the door to manís conquest of the stars. Released to coincide with the 80th anniversary of Yuri Gagarinís birth, the filmmakers have also added a sweet touch, editing the film to run at 108 minutes, exactly the same amount of time Gagarin spent in space orbiting the earth.

Video

Entertainment One are releasing "Gagarin: First in Space" at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, which, according to the technical specs over at IMDB, appears to be incorrect. Seemingly, the original aspect ratio is 2.35:1, and looking at screenshots of the German Blu-ray from Ascot Elite, I have no reason to doubt that.

The notable inaccuracy of an incorrect aspect ratio is a real shame to this release, because, apart from that, the transfer is quite strong. Aside from some minor edge enhancement and some aliasing (especially on the potential astronaut's beds at 62:26, or the house at 99:45), we have a trouble free presentation. There are a lot of dreary colours in the palette here, mainly those showcasing the poverty and conditions during Gagarin's younger years, yet when required, the lighter colours really pop. The orange of Gagarin's space suit as he lands back to Earth, the blue sky, and the subtle glare of the sun, all look great. Details are also strong throughout, most notably in facial close-ups and props in the forefront of the screen, whilst shadow details are noticeable, but not perfect. There are no scratches or nicks.

The disc is PAL, and the feature, like Gagarin's time in space, runs for 108:12.

Audio

There are two options available here:
- Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
- Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing, I opted for the Russian Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which was more than adequate. Although the surrounds aren't used a huge amount, they are used in a subtle manner that really adds to the atmosphere. The score takes up most of the surround action, but we also get some occasional location background noise which shows adequate directionality and separation. The dialogue can sound a little flat here and there, but more often than not, depth is above average. There are no issues with the track such as background hiss or volume inconsistencies, and I noticed no scratches or drop outs.

Optional subtitles have been included in English.

Extras

The sole extra of note is a "Making Of" featurette, which is presented in Russian with optional English subtitles. Clocking in at 23:57, it's surprising to see the film footage in the original aspect ratio here, considering the actual film transfer has been inexplicably changed. This is a pretty good extra, with plenty of interview footage from various cast and crew members, discussing the ins and outs of the film. The picture quality of the extra is quite poor at times, but it's a welcome addition to the disc.

Start-up Trailers:
- "Earth to Echo" (2:18)
- "Tracks" (1:53)
- "Jimmy's Hall" (2:05)

Overall

The Film: C+ Video: C+ Audio: B Extras: D Overall: C+

 


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