Day of the Jackal (The) AKA Chacal
R2 - United Kingdom - Fabulous Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (13th March 2016).
The Film

***This is an A/V and Extras review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Based on Frederick Forsyth’s best-selling novel of political intrigue, The Day of the Jackal, tells of a cold, suave British assassin hired by the French OAS to kill General Charles de Gaulle. Nameless and faceless, the killer, known by the code name of Jackal (Edward Fox), relentlessly moves toward the date with death that would rock the world. The tension mounts as the methodical preparations of the Jackal are paralleled with the efforts of the police to uncover the plot, which gives the story non-stop, edge-of-your-seat suspense.

Video

UK distributor Fabulous Films are reissuing Universal UK's ancient, barebones DVD of Fred Zinnemann's superb The Day of the Jackal (1973). A first rate, highly regarded adaptation of Frederick Forsyth's best selling 1971 novel about an attempt to assassinate Charles de Gaulle. The impetus for the book was the failed 1962 assassination attempt on De Gaulle and his wife by members of the OAS (Organisation armée secrète). The novel and film postulate that the OAS plan an even more elaborate attempt using an English assassin.

Sadly, what we have here is the same tired old 4:3 letterboxed, non-anamorphic 1.85:1 image dating back most likely to the laserdisc transfers in the '90s. In it's day this was a decent transfer with good colours, decent blacks, contrast and detail. However, by the time DVD came along it was instantly obsolete due to the development of 16:9 widescreen TVs and the optimizing of transfers to a 16x9 anamorphic format. So, as I have said this transfer was outmoded even when it first appeared on DVD in the early 2000s, but to reissue it in 2016 is....insulting.

By today's standards it's dull and when zoomed on a modern widescreen television it's watchable due to the print and original transfer being virtually free of any damage and by being optimal for the '90s. But now, there's no excuse for it being trotted out yet again. Fabulous Films should have insisted on new 16x9 enhanced glass masters for this and The Eiger Sanction (1975) which is also being reissued, and is also letterboxed within a 4:3 frame. That release is worse because the film was shot in Panavision 2.35:1 so the image is even more compromised by the zoom cropping on a modern TV display.

Annoyingly, the film starts playing on loading of the disc and on my Blu-ray player I couldn't get any of the menu options to work; I had to chapter jump to the end of the film to get to the old Universal menu. To add insult to injury the menu was enhanced for 16x9 displays!

PAL / 1.85:1 non-anamorphic / 136'39"

Audio

Audio: English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono

Subtitles: Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish and Turkish

Bog standard, lossy Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono tracks with numerous subtitle options to maximize the use of the glass master throughout Europe. The track does the job well as it replicates the original mono heard on the film's 1973 theatrical release. Obviously it's no match for a modern 5.1 stereo track but then no one requires it to be. I find it surprising that a film held in this high regard that along with a new HD master not being created a new 5.1 track hasn't been made either.

Extras

Production Notes - 15 text pages
Back in the early days of the DVD format text notes about the production, stars and key behind the scenes players were common on many releases. Now, they seem quaint.

Theatrical Trailer (1.37:1 open matte) - 2'05"

Overall

One of the all-great thrillers of the 1970s, and therefore of all time (avoid the mediocre remake The Jackal, 1997) gets a dispiriting 1990s era transfer in 2016. That said, it's watchable, and sadly it seems to be the only game in town as I'm not aware of a Blu-ray being available anywhere.

The Film: A+ Video: E Audio: C Extras: E Overall: D

 


DVD Compare is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and the Amazon Europe S.a.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk, amazon.com, amazon.ca, amazon.fr, and amazon.de.