Soldier's Story (A) (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (8th December 2020).
The Film

The murder of a black sergeant on a segregated army base in Louisiana in 1944 is investigated by a black soldier and lawyer, revealing deep-seated racism in the Deep South. Adapted from Charles Fullerís Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (for Adolph Caesar), and Best Adapted Screenplay (by Fuller himself).

Video

Based on the celebrated 1981 stage play - A Soldier's Play - which had recently finished it's successful initial run, Norman Jewison's well regarded film arrives on BD from Powerhouse Films as part of their beloved and well respected Indicator series. Taken from Sony's excellent 2K master this is yet another winner from Powerhouse.

The film favours a matter of fact colour palette typical of a studio production of the era; colours are naturalistic but rich when required to be. Flesh tines are natural but warm occasionally reddish but balanced. Overall a very professional if not a showy job of lensing by Russell Boyd.

Black levels are typically deep and rich and I saw no unintended crush. Shadow detail is always strong with the many night scenes coming off well. Contrast is layered by supportive and whites display perfectly balance gamma with no blown out highlights. I saw no print damage or digital tinkering and the encode is top notch with filmic grain ever present. It's very much a well funded '80s studio production and looks tip top on BD with - as usual for Powerhouse - only a newer scan given the 4K UHD treatment ever likely to best it.

1080/24p / AVC MPEG-4 / 1.85:1 / 100:53

Audio

English LPCM 2.0 Surround
Subtitles: English HoH

The soundtrack, although recorded in Dolby Stereo, is not going to give your system a workout but is as good as it needs to be with no compromises. There's no signs of any age related wear and tear in evidence with silences filled with ambiance and the surround tracks ditto. The score by Herbie Hancock feels it's way around the field but is mainly relegated to the rears; dialogue is always clear, front and central. This being a verbose investigative drama about racism and the military the hard of hearing subtitles are especially central for anyone in need of them. They've been given the usual suprerb, comprehensive professional job and tackle 100% of the dialogue well.

Extras

Audio commentary with director Norman Jewison (1999)

Vintage yaktrak from the very early days of DVD. Jewison is an old pro

"The DP/30 Interview with Norman Jewison" 2010 documentary (Play All - 68:37):
- "Part One: Tea with Hitchcock" (22:32)
- "Part Two: The Timing Was Right" (24:23)
- "Part Three: Capturing Reality" (21:41)


More recent vintage interview with Jewison presented in HD. A career-spanning interview that covers all the necessary bases with interviewer David Poland taking the reins. Good, in-depth stuff and being a fan of many of Jewison's films essential viewing.

"March to Freedom" 1999 featurette (15:03)

Vintage retrospective piece upscaled to HD from SD. Essentially all about the African-American experience during WWII narrated by the late, great Paul Winfield (Sounder, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Mike's Murder) and given the short length, fairly superficial but it gets the job done and provides a decent taster for anyone wanting to go from here to more in depth documentaries or literature on the subject.

Theatrical Trailer (1:17)

Vintage promo piece typical of the period in HD.

Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (34 images)

Decent HD still gallery.

36-page liner notes booklet by Molefi Kete Asante, extracts from Norman Jewisonís autobiography recounting the making of A Soldierís Story, an archival interview with cinematographer Russell Boyd, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and film credits

Indispensable hard copy companion to the film covers the essential bases.

Packaging

Standard clear BD Keepcase.

Overall

A celebrated if largely forgotten '80s prestige piece based on a well regarded stage production - involved several cast members from the stage version - gets the deluxe treatment from Powerhouse Films as part of their Indicator series. Extras are vintage but choice and the package comprehensive. The usual peerless supplementary booklet is provided and as usual is worth the price of the disc on it's own. It's great that such a meat and potatoes release as this still gets a dual layered disc, a maxed out bitrate and meticulous treatment. Highly recomended.

The Film: B+ Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A Overall: A

 


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, amazon.de, amazon.it, amazon.es and amazon.se.