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200 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nigh-on flawless presentation for a true British classic
Anyone who has only ever seen Michael Anderson's definitive 1954 war film on a muddy, soft television transmission or the previous standard definition DVD should prepare themselves to be floored when they sit down to watch this new 1080P Blu-Ray.

The visual presentation is nothing short of perfection, and I do not say such things lightly. To their credit,...
Published on 25 Sep 2009 by Martin Thomson

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55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Great story, great film..........terrible DVD transfer
Don't get me wrong.......I love the story and the film, but the transfer to DVD is a disaster. The black pixelation of the DVD picture (presumably made worse by the film being originally done in black and white) is SO obvious and SO prevalent (and SO annoying) in many scenes (particularly in the "dark" scenes over the dams), that it should never have been released to the...
Published on 22 Jun 2005 by Kropotkin


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200 of 201 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A nigh-on flawless presentation for a true British classic, 25 Sep 2009
By 
Martin Thomson (London UK) - See all my reviews
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Anyone who has only ever seen Michael Anderson's definitive 1954 war film on a muddy, soft television transmission or the previous standard definition DVD should prepare themselves to be floored when they sit down to watch this new 1080P Blu-Ray.

The visual presentation is nothing short of perfection, and I do not say such things lightly. To their credit, Optimum have got absolutely EVERYTHING right on this one.

Firstly, the frequent temptation with HD to crop films that were originally shot Academy down to fill a 16:9 frame has been resisted, with the film retaining its full original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, pillar-boxed within the 16:9 frame.

The clarity of the image is so stunning that I cannot imagine they used anything other than the original negative, which would mean that the film would have had to have undergone a full-blown restoration (not cheap!)

Grading is absolutely first rate, with a terrific grey scale and no discernible clipping of white areas of the image. I did notice some slight black crush on very dark jackets, but this may well just be my TV. The image is as sharp as a razor, with the amount of extra detail being revealed nothing short of staggering for a film made over fifty years ago.

Most importantly, this sharpness is entirely natural and I did not detect the slightest bit of artificial processing of any kind; no edge enhancement, no artificial sharpening and no DNR.

The image retains a wonderfully natural, film-like quality with grain present throughout, as it should be, but always mild and controlled, and never bothersome.

They've even left the original, beautifully ornate BBFC censor card on the front, a lovely touch which is much appreciated as it helps transport you immediately back to the time that the film was made (well, it does me, anyway!).

Sound-wise, things aren't quite as impressive. The film is constrained by the inevitable technical limitations of the time, and I suspect by the rather compressed, mid-rangey sound that they used an optical track rather than a superior magnetic one. However, not knowing what sound materials survive on the film, it is not really fair to criticize. The Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 track (most likely twin-channel Mono) is completely adequate for a film of this period, and as long as you don't go into it expecting a full immersive surround sound mix and accept it for what it is, you shouldn't be disappointed.

Extras wise, there is absolutely squat, unfortunately, not even a trailer, but again expecting reams of bonus features for a film of this vintage (the term 'making-of' hadn't even been invented yet!) is rather unfair. An interview with Richard Todd would have been nice, though.

Finally, for purists who may be worried, don't be... they've left the dog's name alone!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thank God for British war movies! This is one of the best., 26 May 2000
By 
brucek@tpg.com.au (Canberra, Australia) - See all my reviews
Richard Todd plays a convincing Guy Gibson and casting Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis was an excellent choice. A thoroughly entertaining and generally accurate portrayal of how Wallis' conviction that the main Ruhr dams could be breached was carried out. The film includes actual footage of the trials carried out on the English coast. Students of military history, as well as those who simply want a good yarn well told, will enjoy this. (Incidentally, as it is an historical account, I see no reason why references to terms that may be politically-incorrect today need to be erased. If that credo was adopted there would be few accurate historical records available in the year 2000).
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80 of 82 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The best of British - an impressive film, 19 Dec 2006
By 
Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dam Busters [DVD] [1955] (DVD)
This is one of the best of British stiff-upper-lip War films, and pretty faithful to its factual subject. It tells the two stories - of the invention of the bouncing bomb which would do severe damage to the Ruhr dams, and of the raid which used those bombs to inflict that damage - well. Characterisation is good and the performances of Richard Todd as Guy Gibson and, particularly, Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis, the inventor, are entirely appropriate and convincing. While the special effects of the raid itself are very much 1954 and now unconvincing, the tests of the bomb are very well depicted and seem true to life. It is perhaps worth knowing that Todd, with John Mills and others one of the archetypal British-military-hero film actors of the 50s, found one scene difficult to play, and that the very last one, when he tells Wallis that he must go away and write to the parents and families of those who did not come back ; difficult because, as a wartime officer himself in reality, he had done that more often than he cared to remember. The film generally carries that stamp of authenticity and, as such, is a good deal more than just an exciting tale. Well worth watching
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definate War Movie, 6 April 2008
By 
Mr. P. J. R. LEWIS (Llandudno N Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dam Busters [DVD] [1955] (DVD)
There can be few people who have never seen this superb war film recounting the design of the Bouncing bomb which was designed specifically for one purpose to burst the dams of the Rhur valley in Germany and thus cripple the industrial manufacturing base of the country.

Wing Commander Guy Gibson awarded the VC for his command of 617 squadron played really well by Richard Todd.

Recently on reading Guy Gibsons early 60s paperback autobiography about Bomber Command entitled "Enemy Coast Ahead" and now thankfully back in print after many years, the enactment of scenes in the film are very true to life having been given no embelishments to improve the story.

Every single scene in the film is relevant to the story even down to Gibson and fellow officer watching the West end production in London, coming up with the ingenious idea of using searchlight beams to accurately assertain the correct height of his aircraft whilst in flight

The tension,huge loss of life with eight Lancasters with the eight crew failing to return and the now famous Dambusters March.

Possibly the special effects now well over 50 years old may appear dated but nothing detracts from making the Dambusters one of the most convincing and accurate depictions of true wartime events.

You might be interested to know that behind the visitor centre just outside Rhayader in Mid Wales Elan Valley is the actual remains of Barnes Wallaces coffer dam used to test the neccessary explosive charge needed to breach the Rhur dams.

After seeing an article about it in my daily newspaper i desided to go and see it for myself.

Incredibly i have been to the Elan Valley many times to take part in the annual 20 mile road race without realising the remains of Wallaces dam were so close.

The walk along Caban Coch reservoirs shoreline is not suitable for the infirm or elderly which is a shame but the sense of anticipation of going to see such a significant and famous wartime relic so cleverly concealed was something i will never forget.

The dam must be atleast 20ft tall and 5ft thick and over 300ft wide but Mr wallace certainly made a mess of it.

There is so much original debris lying around that those who know it's there can easily grab a piece without any threat of depleting the supply.

When standing ontop which again is easily done the memories of this famous film come flooding back and you soon realise the importance and reasoning for sighting the dam in such a remote area of Mid Wales.

Even the original buildings are there in a kind of time warp.

The depiction of Barnes destroying the small dam at the begining of the film is quite strange after you realise how huge the original structure was.

Even today without any knowledge of it's existence which must be the case for the countless thousands who visit this picturesque area it is of no surprise that the Germans never located it's presence.

Derwent Water in the Peak District was the main test area for the Lancasters.The squadron was the only one officially allowed to fly under a hundred feet whilst in testing.Throughout the war nobody knew why the Lancasters flew so low,even other squadrons not connected to 617 were left in the dark.

Guy Gibson did own a black labrador that he called "Nigger" and yes he was unfortunately killed just outside the airbase, so the film remains as close to the real events of the war that we are likely to get.

It is only on purchasing the BluRay addition to this film that i was made aware of Gibsons lost companion "Nigger" appearing in the final credits of the film.

Just watch as Barnes Wallace full of remorse at having sent so many young men to die on this important mission for war moral talks to Gibson.

Just in the distant background above Gibsons right shoulder we see a ghost like black creature in slow motion, is this Nigger ?.

Nothing in the film has been added to improve the story unlike vertually every other war film to date.

The film keeps to the known facts and uses them to its brilliant advantage and on watching it again recently the acting and storyline still carry significant weight to make the film one of the true greats in British cinematic history.

The film may be approaching it's sixtieth birthday remarkably quickly but it's popularity will never cease.

Everything right down to the genuine archive film along Chesill beach on the south coast is factually accurate which goes to make it possibly the greatest war film to come out of a British studio.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Bombing Run film, 22 April 2007
By 
C. Pierides "Costa58artdeco" (South Africa) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dam Busters [DVD] [1955] (DVD)
I watched this film several years ago, and this remains my firm best ever in its class. The footage of the magnificent Lancaster Bombers in flight, probably one of the last times these aircraft ever flew in numbers post the war. The magnitude of dropping bouncing bombs, outrageous in concept, magnificent and daring in its reality.The high casulty rate, incredible sacrifice of the brilliant pilots flying at 60 metres from the surface, the way of life of the scientists and pilot, and the clastrophobic red tape these people have to overcome, a battle against bureaucracy before the barrage of guns, gives one a true sense of what this must have been like.It is said that George Lucas used people involved with the dam busters to set up and assist with the attack on the death star sequence. Certainly, this would make a lot of sense. The tunnel sequences give the same sense of flying close up that I personally experienced flying hand gliders some years ago.Sure the dam busting itself has a sense of studio make in it, but this still remains a suberb film.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent, 11 Sep 2007
This review is from: The Dam Busters [DVD] [1955] (DVD)
This film is a wonderful reminder of times long gone. Where boffins of wonderful genuis were plentiful in this land. Although times may have changed this film is a fantastic homage to the story of the Dam Busters and how it all came about. Michael Redgrave plays Barnes N Wallis the brilliant scientist who works out that a bouncing bomb is the only way to destroy the dams in the Ruhr which is the industrial heartland of Nazi Germany. Wonderful acting, heartfelt emotion and some thrilling action scenes make this a must have World War II DVD for everyones collection.
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85 of 90 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dam Busters, 11 Oct 2003
By 
Simon Wainwright (Eltham, victoria Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dam Busters [DVD] (DVD)
I have just read the review on the Dam Busters film on your website.
Having read this review I urge people to ignore the comments made by Philip Kemp as being a load of puerile nonsense. Comparing the death of Nigger(Guy Gibson's labrador) to the death of Bambi's Mum,is belittling the men who held this dog as a mascot. Guy Gibson firmly believed that had his crews found out about Nigger's death it would have been seen as bad luck and quite rightly so.
This was not a minor operation. It was a highly technical operation for the day, no radar, they had GEE not quite the same, flying at 100 feet across the channel and over Holland and Germany, and the 60 feet over the lakes to the dams.
In the context of the '40s the term "Nigger" did not have the conotation is has today. Does Philip Kemp fully realise the outside professionl expertise that is called upon in the making of this type of film. One can only do so much within a budget within the two hours allowed. It's a well known fact that film companies tend to embelish heroism and if Philip Kemp cannot recognise this as indicated by his trite statements he should get an education.
I know this film is revered amongst the vast majority of those who are knowledgeable before and after the fact. I would hate to think that a frivilous and sarcastic review would desuade people from buying such a wonderful and gratifying film that honours the participants(Commenwealth aircrew including one American who joined the Canadian Air Force) and a long lasting commeration to RAF Bomber Command and the durability of spirit as exhibited by the British people.
Simon Wainwright
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great story, and an excellent transfer to DVD, 24 Jun 2003
By 
Bruce Kerslake "brucek39" (Ormiston, Queensland Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dam Busters [DVD] (DVD)
This is a great story based on fact, which often gives the best stories. Excellent reviews on the VHS version already exist, but Warner Bros are to be commended for the excellent transfer to DVD. The master tape was obviously looked after and has produced a crystal clear DVD well worth the upgrade from tape.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best British war film? An incredible story., 15 Sep 2007
By 
Mr. Andrew Moore "lord derfel cadarn" (Worcestershire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Dam Busters [DVD] [1955] (DVD)
The phrase "they don't make 'em like that any more" is the perfect way to describe this film.
OK, so we all know the story of Barnes Wallis and his crazy idea for a bouncing bomb to blow up the dams, and then 617 squadron Led by Guy Penrose Gibson to deliver the bomb. But that doesn't make this film any the less stiring.
The acting is terrific the special effects less so by todays standards but the film is almost 60 years old.
The music is brilliant and the raid itself is fantastically done. The rest of the film follows the development of the bombs and the practise flights to get the skills to destroy the dams. Oh and the bit where Gibsons dog dies raised more than one tear among the audience I recently had the pleasure to view this amazing film with at a cinema screening.
I cannot recommend this film more highly, its a must see film for any film fan or war film fan and one I have seen many times and will return to again and again.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A bomb that bounces? What a crazy notion!, 27 May 2007
This review is from: The Dam Busters [DVD] [1955] (DVD)
If only our clever old boffins could come up with some way to blow up Germany's dams. But surely it's impossible. How do you get a bomb into just the right position to shatter a huge structure of solid concrete that's cushioned against any sort of impact by a vast body of water on one side? One boffin, Barnes Wallis, had the nutty idea that you could get a bomb into the perfect place for dam destruction if you could just get it to bounce across the reservoir then sink on impact with the dam. Ridiculous! Or so the men from the ministry were inclined to think. But Barnes did it. He needed all his perseverance and ingenuity and when he finally succeeded, he modestly gave credit for the original idea to Nelson, who found that canon balls could do enemy ships more damage if you could get them to bounce across the water. Because the RAF fliers had to drop the bombs so precisely, they had to invent a way of ensuring the right altitude (it had to be exactly 60 feet) and distance from the dams (600 yards). The needs of the time seem to have given rise to a fountain of ingenious solutions from our brave, clever chaps.

The Dam Busters is a wonderful film of heroism and stoicism in fighting a strong and resourceful foe abroad and battling the frustrating inertia of a rigid bureaucracy at home. It's a remarkable, true story, very moving, reminds us of what we have to be grateful for, who we should be proud of, and why. The acting is excellent and the music is that *Dam Busters Music* that we always associate with The Dam Busters film. I couldn't tell you how many times I've watched this film on the telly - only that I watch it whenever it's been broadcast. And I've watched the DVD twice since I received it last week. It's over 50 years old, made in black and white, the special effects are pretty good for the time it was made (but of their time nevertheless) and there are no special features - not even subtitles. It doesn't matter. Whether it's despite its age and limitations or because of them, this is one of my favourite films and I recommend it.
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The Dam Busters (Special Edition) [DVD] [1955]
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