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Is this the best Hi Def transfer yet?
on 3 November 2008
In March of this year, Paramount Pictures and Sky got together to restore two British films for a Hi Def release. Those films were "Zulu" and "The Italian Job".
The former was originally shown following its restoration on Sky's Hi Def TV channels and has now made it to Blu-ray. Originally this was to have been an HD DVD release back in June but like so many others with that format's abrupt termination, "Zulu" is now belatedly out on Blu-ray.
"Zulu" is one of my favourite films of all time. It is one of the very best war films to ever come out of the UK, indeed, some maintain it to be the greatest of all.
It tells of the heroic stand by just over 100 British troops at an isolated mission station called Rorke's Drift in 1879 South Africa, following the annihilation of a British Army at Iswandlana by the Zulu Nation.This army of 4000 strong Zulu warriors then headed to Rorke's Drift to dish out a similar fate to the small British force stationed there....
What follows is a sustained battle, the ferocity of which will linger long in the viewer's memory. "Zulu" boasts an all star cast headed by Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, and in his first film role - Michael Caine.
The subject matter could have been a minefield to film but "Zulu" just shrugs this off and portrays the Zulus with awe and respect, depicting them as almost a force of nature against whom the British Army look small and almost frail....
The film boasts a thunderous score courtesy of John Barry and although this is not in 5.1, the stereo mix is still very good, indeed, and does what it is supposed to do with aplomb.
However, the picture itself is most definitely the star on show here. The restoration to Hi Def is nothing short of astounding and I can only assume that a 70mm print was used. From the old Paramount logo at the beginning of the film itself, the viewer is treated to a visual spectacle that simply could have been made yesterday. This is akin to and even possibly better than seeing a pristine 70mm print of this film in a cinema. Light and colour are gorgeous and the clarity is unbelievable.
Flies land on the face of Jack Hawkins' preacher as he tries to persuade Stanley Baker's commander to release his wounded men. The stunning Natal scenery is simply three dimensional and you can see every blade of grass and rock on the mountainsides. The uniforms almost glow with detail and are incredible to see. The huge marriage dance at the beginning of the film in King Cetawayo's Kraal is simply unbelievable though, restored to a detail so clear that it simply leaves you wondering how they got it to look that good.
My only gripe with the disc is that they did not provide a 5.1 soundtrack. That said the remixed stereo soundtrack is more than adequate and does the job.
Visually though this film takes Hi Def to a new plateau. It is simply unbelievable that this was made in 1962, again it has the look and clarity of a film made yesterday. It's Hi Def picture exceeds that of even the highly acclaimed "Black Narcissus", in fact I cannot think of any film on either BD or HD DVD that can rival "Zulu" in Hi Def.
Films like "2001" and "Bladerunner" are great Hi Def transfers but "Zulu" simply betters them.
Is this the best Hi Def transfer to date? I seriously am beginning to think that it is. Treat yourself to this incredible Hi Def experience and pick up a copy of this disc without delay.
Believe me, the end result will exceed your expectations, it is that good.