Sophie's Choice [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - ITV DVD
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (28th July 2014).
The Film

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

Between the innocent, the romantic, the sensual, and the unthinkable. There are still some things we have yet to imagine.

Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline star in this drama adaptation of the novel by William Styron. Upon moving to a Brooklyn boarding house in 1947, author Stingo (Peter MacNicol) meets Nathan Landau (Kline) and Sophie Zawistowska (Streep).

The trio become firm friends and spend much time together, but Nathan's explosive temper often results in Stingo spending time alone with Sophie, and it is in these moments that she slowly reveals her past to him, describing what she experienced at the hands of the Nazis in occupied Poland.

Video

ITV Studios Home Entertainment have released the critically acclaimed drama "Sophie's Choice" on to Blu-ray at an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 (original aspect ratio is 1.85:1). The transfer is 1080p and uses an AVC MPEG-4 encode. Although a marked improvement on previous DVDs, there is still a lot of room for improvement.

"Sophie's Choice" has always looked surprisingly poor for a film that has garnered such critical acclaim in previous home media releases, and this Blu-ray isn't really setting the world alight either. There is a strong yellowish/orange tint through some scenes which make the rest of the colours look unnatural, especially skin tones and other pale shades. Details can often lack that crystal clear clarity we have become accustomed to with the format, looking a little blocky at times, though there are some strong looking scenes too (beach scene with Peter MacNicol and Greta Turken) where the grains of sand and facial close-ups look great. There is natural film grain running throughout, with no obvious signs of digital noise reduction being used. Some may think the picture is overly soft, though it must be noted that this was intentional on the part of director of photography Nestor Almendros, so should not be looked at as a problem. The source is generally clean, though there are some occasional minor blemishes within. Overall, this transfer is far from great, but is still a satisfying experience. Some will be understandably disappointed, but it still beats the DVD releases hands down.

The feature is uncut, and runs 150:51.

Audio

ITV have provided us with a single audio track here; English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Dual Mono. There are no causes for concern here. The mono track is indicative of the films original release, so audiophiles can rest easy that they can enjoy the feature as intended. Dialogue is clear at all times, with no mumbled lines, and volume levels are consistent throughout. The score by Marvin Hamlisch is involving, whilst never overpowering the dialogue, and the sound effects subtle and quiet, yet still heard. There are no signs of damage to the track at all such as scratches, pops or drop outs, and I noticed no signs of background hiss.

Optional English subtitles have been included.

Extras

The main extra included is an audio commentary with writer/director Alan J. Pakula. As far as solo commentary tracks go, this is a strong effort. Pakula is clearly very proud of the film, and takes great pleasure in informing us of the various themes of the film, and the many aspects of the production. Dead spots are few and far between, and don't last long when they do occur. For fans of the film, this is a must.

We also get a "Director Alan J. Pakula: A Tribute" filmography (3:15), and a theatrical trailer (2:49) - both in standard definition.

Overall

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

 


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