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4.6 out of 5 stars69
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 14 June 2013
Finally....the UK PAL Region 2 release of Bear Island from Sony.

The DVD is presented in widescreen 2:35:1 anamorphic with a mono Dolby Digital soundtrack.

Although the film is stated as being remastered the picture quality is variable. If would appear they have sourced an old print and basically scanned it for DVD with no effort made to clean the print. Having said that, I'm grateful it has finally appeared on DVD.

Closeup shots tend to fair the best, showing more detail and fewer scratches. Some of the outdoor and landscape scenes vary from acceptable to terrible, with lots of dirt and scratches on the print. I would rate picture quality as 2.5/5 overall.

Sound is ok for a mono print. No issues there.

If you have the pan and scan VHS copy then the DVD is worth a purchase if you are fan of the film.

Incidentally, Bear Island did appear in ITV1 HD over Christmas 2012 and looked so much better than the DVD release. The picture looked way cleaner with fewer scratches and dirt. Unfortunatly I only realised the film was being broadcast half way through so didn't record it. So there must be a better print kicking around, however it would appear unlikely it will ever made its way to DVD with this new release now available. I suspect it will never see it's way to Blu-ray either. We can hope though!
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Bear Island is one of those movies I want to like more for all its cheesiness. Barely released theatrically, cut heavily for home video and rarely shown on TV, it marked the end of the big screen Alistair MacLean goldmine (subsequent adaptations would be straight to cable) and, pretty much, the viability of most of the cast as leading players - Donald Sutherland, Vanessa Redgrave and Richard Widmark in particular would soon be relegated to the little leagues or supporting roles. At times it's like a bad accent competition, with Richard Widmark's German and Christopher Lee's Polish faring better than Vanessa Redgrave's Norwegian ("Yuust becorzz somwun haas givan anne ohrdoor?") which at least adds a little variety to her usual flat delivery of dialog. Maybe Donald Sutherland should have tried one too because he spends huge chunks of the movie sounding bored stiff, not helped by being required to play one scene in red longjohns and trapper's cap.

There's nothing new here: multinational UN climate change expedition to the Arctic is beset by mysterious deaths and accidents related to a fortune in Nazi gold in the ruins of a nearby U-boat pen, with all the predictable plot turns. This being Alistair MacLean, no-one is what they claim to be, and this being an adaptation of a novel virtually nothing bears any resemblance to what was on the printed page (much of which took place on the voyage to the island). Aside from one good `accidental' poisoning sequence the book was hardly one of MacLean's best efforts, so that's no great loss. It has its moments if you're in an undemanding mood - there's a memorably atmospheric shot of the ship passing the clifftop graveyard of German U-boat crews, while the U-boat pen set is genuinely impressive - and it's well photographed on some striking remote locations, but it's more filler than main course.

Do be warned that Columbia's long deleted panned-and-scanned UK video is of the shorter version that omits several scenes, including at least one plot point. Hopefully if the film ever makes it to DVD from Columbia/Sony it will be in the original uncut version in 2.35:1 widescreen (there is a Spanish 2-disc DVD that includes both cuts in 2.35:1, but the quality is very poor).
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on 24 November 2014
First off, this review is for the ' Classic British ' release of Bear island, and to be honest i wasn't really expecting too much after reading a couple of reviews on amazon. No need to worry though as the picture quality is very good. Framed at 2:35:1 and 16x9, the image is crisp, colourful and thoroughly enjoyable. The box does state extensive remastering and restoration, but don't expect near HD quality, this is a 1979 movie and improvements could still be made here and there. I viewed on a 32 inch screen with no problems.

To anyone who might be a little wary of forking out for this release, don't worry.....cheap prices at the moment and you won't regret it.

Can't comment on the other labels out there; could be good, could be bad...... just stick to the British dvd.
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on 30 November 2014
Buying a copy of this and my review is based only on the film not the disk release.

I first caught the film on TCM last year and just loved it. So much so that I bought the novel and enjoyed that to, though to be honest the novel and movie are different beasts.

It isn't a perfect film, maybe that's why I love it? Some of the acting is off beat and the script probably isn't what it could have been but it has good-old Donald Sutherland as the hero and the shots of and around the island are chilling. Cult classic in my book.
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on 25 September 2015
I think Don Sharp is an underrated director. Here he does his best as usual to make something out of a fairly run-of-the-mill script and far-fetched scenario with impressive well-shot scenery, and getting decent performances from a talented cast who sometimes deliver their lines with wobbly accents, There are some twists and turns and some snowy action, a few explosions and it adds up to a harmless and occasionally thrilling film. Richard Widmark is always watchable. Donald Sutherland is in his heavy-lidded quietly spoken mode. Vanessa Redgrave goes through the motions with her fascinating face (not a challenging part). Lloyd Bridges seems to be revving up for the Airplane films.
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on 1 September 2013
This was in my list of the unavailable so far dvd releases to buy when it's available and finally it became available.
A good typical winter-snow film which is a must to see on a cold winter december day with your friends.
A good cast and average plot but if u are a fan (like me) of donald sutherland then this is a must have.
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on 14 February 2014
Great film and story line, will watch it over and over again, Acting also very good and scenery brilliant. Need more films like this one.
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on 20 June 2014
interesting story with great actors,it isn't always easy to make movie from good novel but in this case it's very well done
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on 31 December 2013
Not one of the greatest films ever but a very watchable rainy Sunday thrillers. In the vain of 'The secret of the sands'
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on 21 March 2016
Slightly dated in visual effects, but a good cast, a storyline that keeps your interest and some wonderful arctic scenery. Only one 'visual' flaw towards the end, but I won't share that and spoil the film for those that haven't seen it.
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