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The Wild Bunch cover

Blu-ray Reviews: The Wild Bunch

Not previously published
Last updated 26 June 2009

The Wild Bunch
1969 - Warner Bros Entertainment Australia Pty Ltd
Director: Sam Peckinpah
Starring: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O'Brien, Warren Oates, Jaime Sánchez, Ben Johnson, Emilio Fernández, Strother Martin, L.Q. Jones, Albert Dekker and Bo Hopkins

Movie: 4.5 Picture: [To come] Sound: [To come] Extras: 3.5

Running time: 145 minutes
Picture: 2.35:1, 1080p24, VC1 @ 18.06Mbps
Sound: English: Dolby Digital 3/2.1 @ 640kbps; French, Commentary: Dolby Digital Pro Logic 2/0.0 @ 192kbps; German, Italian, Spanish: Dolby Digital 1/0.0 @ 192kbps
Subtitles: English, English for the Hearing Impaired, French, German, German for the Hearing Impaired, Italian, Italian for the Hearing Impaired, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish
Extras: Documentary: 'Sam Peckinpah's West: Legacy of a Hollywood Renegade' (4:3, 480i60, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 83 mins); Two Featurettes (4:3, 480i60, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 57 mins); Outtakes (4:3, 480i, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 9 mins); Trailer (480i60, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 3 mins); Four trailers for other movies (480i60, MPEG2, DD2.0 @ 192kbps - 13 mins)
Restrictions: Rated MA (Australian rating); Region Free

The Wild Bunch video bitrate graph

No review as yet

Comparison: Blu-ray vs PAL DVD

Here are some comparisons between the Australian PAL DVD (number 14034) and the Blu-ray version of this movie. This DVD is the original release, identifiable by being a 'Flipper' (ie. the movie spans both sides of the disc). It was re-released in the mid-2000s in a 2 disc 'Special Edition' form, with the movie on a dual layer disc. Apparently the video quality of the latter is much improved over the one I used.

At the top of each is the full frame (suitably shrunk down) used in the comparison, with a 250 pixel wide detail from the frame underneath. The left side is from the PAL DVD. The image was captured digitally from the disc, scaled up from its native 720 by 576 resolution to 1,024 by 576 (to present in the correct aspect ratio), and then, in order to be comparable to the Blu-ray version, from that to 1,920 by 1,080. The detail is from that last scaled version, and has not been rescaled again. The right side is from the Australian Blu-ray. This has not been scaled at all.

Different applications were used to capture the two frames, so I am not normally comfortable comparing the colour between the two, merely the detail and sharpness. For those visitors from NTSC lands, generally the PAL DVD is just a touch sharper than the NTSC DVD.

There is no doubt about it: the Blu-ray is decent enough in picture quality, but the DVD is appalling. It's not just loss of detail, but edge enhancement that adds noisy lines parallel to hard edges, such as the vertical stick on the right:

Comparison 1

Comparison 2

Comparison 3

Comparison 4

The DVD does no more than hint what's going on here:

Comparison 5

The movie was famous in part because it was exceptionally bloody. Harder to make out on the DVD, which looks like it was scanned from newsprint:

Comparison 6

© 2002-2009, Stephen Dawson