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Blu-ray "mastered" but not "digitally restored"
on 28 July 2014
My copy of the Blu-ray was released by SONY in 2010 for the US and Canadian markets.
The Blu-ray case claims that the film has been "Mastered in High Definition" which is not the same thing as being "digitally restored". Films touted as having been "mastered" or even "remastered" are simply ones that have been newly copied from an old print, the original negative or perhaps an intermediate positive. There is nothing "restored" about them.
Amazon UK is offering the Blu-ray (2010) and two DVDs - one from UCA (2005) and the other from Sony (2010).
Since I own both the Blu-ray and a DVD I'm in a position to offer an informed opinion.
The original movie was filmed in "Eastmancolor by Pathe" which is considered by some to be inferior to Technicolor. This may be part of the problem. However, film stock aside, the scenes are of variable quality. Those shot in the studio are generally better than those shot outdoors (where there was less light control). With double photography scenes, it is the background which suffers. This is particularly so when actors appear with the Harryhausen models: the models are clear but the actors are blurred. (This is not something to be improved with a transfer to Blu-ray.)
Bearing the above comments in mind, the Blu-ray has some greater color saturation but at the cost of less brightness and a certain image blandness compared to the comparative harshness of the DVD.
The opening scene (with Pelias and the augur/Hermes) takes place in daytime but the second scene - according to the dialogue - takes place at night. The DVD only (slightly) darkens the second scene: the Blu-ray darkens both scenes and so excessively that it's difficult to see what's going on.
The Blu-ray has only English audio and English subtitles. The DVD has English, French, German, Italian and Spanish audio, and 20 subtitle options.
All of the principal actors were from the British Isles - except for Todd Armstrong and Nancy Kovack. Todd Armstrong (from Missouri) was dubbed by the British actor Tim Turner and Nancy Kovack by Eva Haddon from the BBC.
Laurence Naismith - a former merchant marine seaman - was somewhat typecast to play Argus, the builder and helmsman of the Argo. He had already run a Congo river steamer aground in "Mogambo" (1953), sunk the Titanic in "A Night to Remember" (1958), and managed to "Sink the Bismarck!" (1960).