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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

directed by Laurence Olivier
UK 1955

With Richard III, Laurence Olivier—as director, producer, and star—transfigures Shakespeare’s great historical drama into a mesmerizing vision of Machiavellian villainy. Olivier’s performance, viewed as the greatest of his career, charges Richard with magnetic malevolence as he steals his brother Edward’s crown through a murderous set of machinations. His inspired direction brings to the screen superlative performances by veteran theater actors Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud and the young Claire Bloom. Filmed in VistaVision and Technicolor, this is the the restored full-length version for which Olivier received the 1956 British Academy Film Awards for Best Actor and Best Film.
 

Posters

Theatrical Release: April 16th, 1955

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Comparison:

Criterion (2 Disc) -  Region 1 - NTSC vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Criterion (2 Disc) - Region 1 - NTSC LEFT vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray RIGHT

Box Cover

  

Distribution Criterion Collection  Spine # 213 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine #213 Region 'A' - Blu-ray

Also available in a three pack with Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948), Henry V (1944) and Richard III (1955) on Criterion DVDs.

         

(click titles for DVDBeaver reviews)

This edition (without any extras) is also available in The Essential Art House - 50 Years of Janus Films - a 50-disc celebration of international films collected under the auspices of the groundbreaking theatrical distributor. It contains Alexander Nevsky (1938), Ashes And Diamonds (1958), L'avventura (1960), Ballad Of A Soldier (1959), Beauty And The Beast (1946), Black Orpheus (1959), Brief Encounter (1945), The Fallen Idol (1948), Fires On The Plain (1959), Fists In The Pocket (1965), Floating Weeds (1959), Forbidden Games (1952), The 400 Blows (1959), Grand Illusion (1937), Häxan (1922), Ikiru (1952), The Importance Of Being Earnest (1952), Ivan The Terrible, Part II (1958), Le Jour Se Lève (1939), Jules And Jim (1962), Kind Hearts And Coronets (1949), Knife In The Water (1962), The Lady Vanishes (1938), The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp (1943), Loves Of A Blonde (1965), M (1931), M. Hulot's Holiday (1953), Miss Julie (1951), Pandora's Box (1929), Pépé Le Moko (1937), Il Posto (1961), Pygmalion (1938), Rashomon (1950), Richard III (1955), The Rules Of The Game (1939), Seven Samurai (1954), The Seventh Seal (1957), The Spirit Of The Beehive (1973), La Strada (1954), Summertime (1955), The Third Man (1949), The 39 Steps (1935), Ugetsu (1953), Umberto D. (1952), The Virgin Spring (1960), Viridiana (1961), The Wages Of Fear (1953), The White Sheik (1952), Wild Strawberries (1957), Three Documentaries By Saul J. Turell plus the hardcover, full color 240-page book.

Runtime 2:38:22  2:38:49.561 
Video 1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio 16X9
Average Bitrate: 6.44 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,431,765,649 bytes

Feature: 36,939,608,064 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Bitrate: Blu-ray

 

Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)  LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary: Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps
Subtitles English, None English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.66:1

Edition Details:

• Commentary by playwright and stage director Russell Lees, joined by John Wilders, former Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre 
• Great Acting: Laurence Olivier, a 1966 BBC interview with Olivier hosted by renowned theater critic Kenneth Tynan 
• Gallery of on-set and production stills and posters, featuring excerpts from Olivier’s autobiography On Acting 
12-minute television trailer with Olivier, producer Alexander Korda, production designer Roger Furse, and other crew members at work in Shepperton Studios 
• Theatrical trailer 
• Essay by film historian Bruce Eder 

DVD Release Date: February 24th, 2004

Keep Case
Chapters: 40

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original aspect Ratio 1.66:1

1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 47,431,765,649 bytes

Feature: 36,939,608,064 bytes

Video Bitrate: 27.00 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary by playwright and stage director Russell Lees and John Wilders
• Interview with actor Laurence Olivier from a 1966 episode of Great Acting (45:45)
• Gallery of behind-the-scenes and production stills and posters

• Restoration Demo (8:14)
• Twelve-minute television trailer featuring footage of Olivier and other cast (12:40)
• Trailer (3:06)
• PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film critic Amy Taubin 

Blu-ray Release Date: April 23rd, 2013
Standard
Blu-ray Case
Chapters: 32

 

Comments:

NOTE: These Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

 

ADDITION: Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray (April 2013): The restoration looks marvelous. Colors are vibrant with notable reds, greens, maroons. Contrast is more layered in the 1080P and detail is highly impressive. There is also more information on all 4 sides. Flesh tones are more true and there is frequently a sense of depth.

 

Audio is lossless now via a linear PCM track in original mono. Sir William Walton's period-style music sounds superb and there are optional English subtitles on the Region 'A'-locked Blu-ray disc.

 

Supplements are duplicated from the 2004 DVD with the commentary, episode of 'Great Acting', and 12-minute trailer featuring footage of Olivier and cast. However, this also includes a restoration discussion and demonstration with Martin Scorsese. It runs over 8-minutes. Also the liner notes are different with an essay by Amy Taubin.

 

So wonderful to see this masterpiece looking significantly improved. I count it as a must-own. Recommended!

 

***

I guess we can first ask "Why so long?" - I'm not referring to the delay by Criterion once this was announced - but why was this masterpiece film not already on DVD? We could speculate on the version - perhaps obtaining the recently discovered footage might have been difficult and I understand the 'rights' are shared... and in England. Regardless, we should all rejoice that it was Criterion who produced this stellar DVD. Great contrast, color, skin tones, film grain - I'd be surprised if it looked this good in the theatre. The apparent texture of the image is almost like the canvas of an oil painting. This DVD looks worthy of being in anyone's TOP 100. Easily the best color, widescreen DVD of a film from 1955 ever put on DVD. Thanks Criterion! out of

RE: The aspect ratio.

The negative is 1.50:1.
The proper aspect ratio for projection of an 8 perf print would have been 1.96:1, as with most other Vista shows.
35mm prints would have been masked to approximately 1.55 and projected anywhere up to 1.85.

Gary W. Tooze


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Criterion (2 Disc) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


Criterion (2 Disc) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM
 


Criterion (2 Disc) - Region 1 - NTSC TOP vs. Criterion - Region 'A' - Blu-ray BOTTOM

 


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Box Cover

  

Distribution Criterion Collection  Spine # 213 - Region 1 - NTSC Criterion Collection - Spine #213 Region 'A' - Blu-ray




 

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Gary Tooze

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