Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Now I *really* hope we don't go on strike...

The Film Society of Lincoln Center has an amazing set of screenings set for August and September, including a screening of El Cid on September 1, just in time for the release of the Tadlow recording of Miklós Rózsa's score!

I have to admit that Malcolm MacDowell's comments on the commentary track for the A Clockwork Orange Blu-ray have also piqued my interest in their Lindsay Anderson showcase as well. Nor would I mind seeing Touch of Evil on the big screen either.

Okay, let's talk about The Hunt for Red October on Blu-ray. No, let's gush about The Hunt for Red October on Blu-ray. More specifically, let's lay on as much hyperbole as possible about The Hunt for Red October's Dolby TrueHD track.

See, The Hunt for Red October won an Oscar for its sound effects editing and has always sounded great, even when it made it to video. The Dolby Surround mix for the film was notably aggressive, sounding good in HiFi stereo on VHS. But it sounded amazing on the linear PCM tracks of the laserdisc. A laserdisc re-issue introduced a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that restored the directionality that original six track Dolby Stereo theatrical mix had, but which sounded pretty anemic otherwise. The DVD release improved this situation with a DTS track, but A/B comparisons with the linear PCM tracks on the laserdisc demonstrated the limitations of even that hard-hitting format.

So here it is in lossless Dolby TrueHD. The discrete directionality and the sonic depth both together.

Now, there are some action sequences in this movie, mostly towards the end, but it is, for the most part, rather dialogue oriented. What that means is that the sound is completing an aural landscape for the viewer, which is perhaps more important in sea-bound genres than in many others (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World has an outstanding sound mix as well). The audio design of The Hunt for Red October envelops the listener with soundscapes that are characteristic for each individual vessel (i.e. the Red October sounds different from the Dallas which sounds different from the Konovalov which sounds different from the Enterprise, etc.), and with no aural proscenium.

This also benefits Basil Poledouris' score, which has the choir mixed to wrap to the surrounds (similar to how Howard Shore's The Lord of the Rings choirs appear in the film mixes). Anybody familiar with the soundtrack album knows that one of the traits of this score are the descending electronic "hits" echoing across the stereo field. These portions were mixed towards the rear in the original surround mixes, which meant that they were 'flattened' into an almost monaural presence in the Dolby Surround mix. Here they have been freed from such technical limitations and bounce from one channel to the other as they were meant to. The score actually sounds better on the Blu-ray than it does on the MCA CD.

The film looks pretty damn good too - it is a bit soft and grainy here and there, but it matches my memory of the original theatrical presentations (and Jan De Bont's work on McTiernan's previous thriller, Die Hard) - but it is really the sound that punches you in the gut on this one. Wow.

I'm very glad that the John McTiernan 'blockbuster trilogy' of Predator, Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October are all available in such great picture and sound quality... with the grain intact.
Tags: audio, basil poledouris, cinema, film music, high def, howard shore, lord of the rings, miklós rózsa, strike
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