This is the second time I have purchased this title on Blu Ray having first purchased the german release earlier this year. I had hoped that for the UK release the studio would go back and give this some more attention but, sadly, this has not happened. What we have here is exactly the same with just the artwork showing any signs of change. When I put the Blu Ray in my player it actually came up with a 'Do you want to resume where you left off' message! So this offers nothing new (apart from an English language back cover).
The Blu Ray transfer is acceptable. It is the best we have right now in the absence of a decent restoration but please be prepared for some grain - quite a lot of grain actually! There is decent amount of sharpness but I just hope for more for an Oscar winning film such as this. Sound is generally OK with a lossless 5.1 mix. Totally inexcusable though is the poor attention given to the menus and chapters. The menu is very, very basic and, while there are chapters, none of the standout moments can be found via the pop-up menu. For instance if you want one of the classic musical numbers you have to guess your way through using the chapter skip button. How much work would it have taken to put some chapters in with a basic pop-up menu option? More effort from the studio needed here but at least they seem to have priced it accordingly.
Tip - look out for the USA only release from Twilight Time which uses the same transfer but have re-authored the disc so you have decent chapters with scene menus etc., More extras too.
Overall this is a 5 star film for me but a 3 star Blu Ray release so let's call it 4 stars.
on 8 September 2004
Ranks highly on my list of best film ever made as well as being the greatest ever musical - truly, truly memorable songs - once heard as a child never forgotten...a splendidly grimey recreation of dickensian london (you can almost taste the bad sausages)...Oliver Reeds greatest ever performance......the kindest hearted prostitute ever seen in a film......Jack Wild, Mark Lester, Bullseye the bull terrier, Ron Moody's Fagin which even out does Alec Guinness's 1948 version - staggeringly good mass dance sequences....and if the whole of the 'Who will buy this wonderful morning' section doesnt make ya feel glad to be alive...give up!
..all in all the most re-visited film in my collection...an uplifting..moving..thoroughly entertaining British classic..an unequivocal 10/10
on 22 April 2005
I loved this movie! It is easily one of the best musicals ever made. First of all, the songs are absolutely marvelous, and I mean it. "Boy for sale" is sombre though very good; but all the other songs are glorious, and will put a smile on your face: "Consider yourself"; "You've got to pick a pocket or two"; "It's a fine life," "Come back soon," I'd do anything," "Who Will Buy," "Reviewing the Situation;" "Oom-pah-pah" are just some of the examples that have stayed in my memory after just one viewing. To say that they are wonderful is an understatement. They are also beautifully sung. One reviewer notes that Oliver's singing voice (dubbed by a girl) irritates him. Don't worry about that. I agree that perhaps it could have been better, and yet I think the singing voice matches Oliver's speaking voice very well, as well as his presentation as a timid little boy. After all, they couldn't have cast Julie Andrews in all of the roles, in all of the musicals ever made. The singing of Nancy, played beautifully and convincingly by Shani Wallis, is very good, as is the singing of the Artful Dodger.
All of the actors shine in their roles: Oliver is portrayed as a timid and naive little boy. The kind hearted and devoted Nancy, who sacrifices herself for the sake of others,won my sympathy right away. Fagin is one of the best comical characters I have ever seen on screen, and you simply get attached to him. There were in fact moments when I was deeply touched by this man so entrapped in a life of crime, that he cannot escape it. The boy playing the Artful Dodger, one of the most talented thieves of Fagin's gang, is amazing - look out for the expressions on his face throughout the film, very artful indeed, and very touching at the same time; I could not avoid loving him. Bill Sykes emerges as a perfect villain, with only a touch of repentance at the end. All of the characters are supremely convincing. Pay attention to the accents, set to match the social status of each character.
Besides, the settings are lavish, and the colours superb, especially the market and Bloomsbury Square, and the food shown in the movie made me hungry (I actually ran to the kitchen at one point). Food, of course, is one of the major themes of the movie, from its opening, where the little boys starving at the workhouse and singing "Food, Glorious Food" send Oliver to ask for more (he is refused, almost needless to say); to the gang of thieves who must "pick a pocket or two" to eat; to the gentlemen and gentlewomen in the market who have money to buy their food.
As other reviewers have mentioned, the street dances are beautifully choreographed. I was impressed by the coordination of movement between the masses of dancers performing all at the same time. Also, look out for the amazingly coordinated scene of the workhouse boys' dinner at the beginning of the movie, one of the most impressive symbolic scenes ever seen on screen. This is soon followed by the unforgettable scene where Oliver asks for more, and which also features in the movie trailer.
One reviewer writes that this movie can get boring if watched repeatedly. I strongly disagree with that statement. The contrary is true: this is one of those movies that one never tires of, because it has some of the elements that make a classic: believable and likeable characters, memorable lines, and unforgettable, truly unforgettable, songs.
I also do not think it is a particularly dark version of Dickens' novel. Only the beginning is really dark, and the killing of Nancy, which is somehow redeemed by the knowlege that her sacrifice will benefit Oliver, as well as put a stop to Bill Sykes' life of crime. The rest is truly life affirming, with Fagin and the Artful Dodger providing comic relief most of the time, despite their wily ways and persistance in crime.
One word of warning: you may find the beginning of the movie somewhat slow, as I did at first, especially because of the long and in my opinion far from impressive overture, and the overlong film credits; the first couple of scenes or so can be a bit slow too, but expect to be absolutely blown away soon afterwards.
In sum, this is definitely a movie to see, to own, to rewatch, a true classic of the kind they really don't make anymore, and wholeheartedly recommended. I give it more than five stars, I give it ten out of ten.
on 4 December 2013
This is me sizing up the picture on my new Panasonic 55 LED 3D full HD TV.
Its fair to say from the outset that SONY pictures had many decisions made when transferring the print used for this blu-ray.
Its a shame not all were the best , as were the quality of the prints used for this final , and now renowned disappointment so many of its fans have been waiting for.
So , is it worth the upgrade ?
What you loose in vibrancy , you gain in depth of picture. and it is important to remark that none of this film stock has had any "frame-by-frame" restoration or digital "jiggery-pokery" , it has simply been scanned hastily from a 35 mm anamorphic negative leaving in all the original colour timing fades which befits any late 1960s stored can of film.
You can see during the "Intermission" screen just how jaded the print has become looking more like a yellowed page from an original Dickens Novel than a Hi-def clean up of a classic Movie-musical..
But its vastly better than the standard DVD transfer that has been the standard before the Blu-ray was born.
The film grain is evident , yes , but so is the detail and much more depth into the frame reviling so much more in the details and set construction never before seen.
Costumes have more detail and in lighter scene's the greens and reds pop out like shots of colour on a painting.
My favourite more noticeable thing are the the ladders the window cleaners danced on during the "Who will Buy" song as they can clearly be seen as silver aluminium that were badly painted brown to look "wooden" (as that metal was yet to be invented in Oliver's time)..
Overall , its the best I think we will get until a full frame-by-frame restoration happens and the vastly improved DTS master soundtrack makes all the musical moments very enjoyable too.
I think the basic look of the film is muted , but its content has all the original elements a little sharper and brighter than have been seen before.
Its not the best upgrade I have seen , but by no means the worst either and well worth buying once again to enjoy the work and detail the set builders must have had quite a job re-creating for this time period.
A few extras but nothing worth singing about as all are pulled from the original DVD release.
A good quality blu-ray but could have been "amazing" with a little more time and money spent on it.
on 3 August 2006
The young hero, Oliver, starts life in the Workhouse, where the children dream of food and the luxury of experiencing indigestion. The over-nourished adults who run the place feed the poor little mites on short rations of some grey bilge they call gruel. After committing the unforgivable sin of requesting some more of this revolting slop, the old devil in charge tries to sell Oliver. A funeral director takes the boy on as a mourner for children's funerals because of his solemn expression. Oliver escapes from the undertaker's establishment after a disagreement over the virtue of his mother and makes his way to London, where he falls in with young Jack Dawkins (the artful dodger) who introduces him to a den of thieves run by an old villain called Fagin. Here he meets the lovely Nancy, who tries to help him and the sinister Bill Sikes who tries to ruin him. Charles Dickens' wonderfully clever, intricate and grim novel is a real tear-jerker but the musical version is more likely to make you sing than cry. The sets are amazing - from the disgusting pest-hole of Fagin's den to the beautiful terrace where Oliver's great uncle lives. The songs and dances are brilliant. The acting is masterly, especially the menacing Bill Sikes (Oliver Reed), the corrupt but kindly Fagin (Ron Moody), the terrible Mr Bumble (Harry Secombe), the drunken undertaker, Mr Sowerberry (Leonard Rossiter) and, of course, Oliver (Mark Lester) and the artful dodger (Jack Wild). I did notice that however filthy and raggedy the kids looked, their hair was always clean and tidy. Ah well, I guess even the youngest actors can only tolerate so much muck and perhaps filthy hair is just taking authenticity a little too far.
A thoroughly enjoyable film and highly recommended.
on 16 June 2014
First up, "Oliver!" is one of, if not THE best musical film ever made. Lionel Bart's masterpiece was lovingly brought to the screen by expert hands, and every department excels. Big time Oscar winner includings nods fo Best Picture and Best Director. Why ron Moody missed out on the Best Actor statue remains one of the planet's greta unsolved mystery. The only move to ever win an Oscar for choreography, and one of the few musicals to win the coveted Best Sound Achievement Oscar. Which brings me to my only gripe with this release. "Oliver!" was originally released as a 70mm blow-up with 6 channel "Oscar winning" sound. I saw it at the cinema, the sound quality overwhelmed, as did the sound quality on the 1984 VHS release - bet VHS tape I ever heard. The Pioneer Laser disc release had an exceptional soundtrack, lush sweeping strings sweeping the room and a kick and vibrancy unparalleled. The BluRay's English Soundtrack....what the hell happened? Thin, fibrous sounding, very little punch, no lush richness whatsoever. Did somebody screw up or were they unable to find or use the sound elements which had been used for the Pioneer Laser Disc release. I would love to know the answer. For anyone wondering what I'm talking about, jump to the undertaker's scene where Oliver fights with Noah, and listen to the German soundtrack and then repeat with the English soundtrack. The German soundtrack mix features all the lushness the English soundtrack lacks. Such a shame that quality control has been sadly neglected on such a prestige BluRay release. Shame on the folk at Sony. This film deserves much better.
Oliver Twist, an orphan from birth, is taken in by the parish and is put into the hands of the cruel Mr Bumble who runs the institution. With instructions to “sell” the boy into a trade he is eventually placed with another cruel and uncaring adult. Escaping to a cold uncaring London he falls into bad company and eventually meets the mercurial Fagin, pickpocket The Artful Dodger and general no good and extremely dangerous to know Bill Sykes. Will he succumb to the ways of these three and become a full time pickpocket living from day to day and always on the lookout for the bobbies or can he escape again and live a better life without fear? When it is realised he has a wealthy relative living nearby, a dispirit race ensues to save the boy from a life of crime or worse.
Not the ideal subject for a light hearted musical you might think but in the hands of Lionel Bart and Carol reed, you end up with a six Oscar winner including best film and best director in 1968. It's quite possible, in fact probable, that Ron Moody and Oliver Reeds quite outstanding performances as the quick witted and sharp Fagin and the dangerous Bill Sykes made all the difference and bagged the film it's clutch of Oscars. Mark Lester is perfectly cast as Oliver and Jack Wild is just fabulous as The Artful Dodger. Carol Reeds assured and exuberant direction, beautifully designed sets, fabulous songs, pitch perfect art direction, colourful costumes and great choreography of course turned Oliver into the huge hit it eventually became. Taking eight times it's budget at the box office it's still one of the most successful musical films of all time.
At 144 minutes it's a long film but the gusto and sheer bravado of the whole production will carry you through to the end with ease.