"Saving Private Ryan: Sapphire Series"

May 2010

201005_br_ryanSteven Spielberg's Graphic War Movie Retains Its Great Impact on Blu-ray 

Paramount 07484
Format: Blu-ray

Overall Enjoyment
****emptystar
Picture Quality
****emptystar
Sound Quality
*****
Extras
***1/2emptystar

Almost everyone has seen this Academy Award–winning film by now. But for those who haven't, it tells the story of a division under the leadership of Captain Miller (Tom Hanks), small-town English teacher turned soldier. Miller is ordered to pick his best men for a mission to go behind enemy lines and rescue a young private (Matt Damon) so that he may be returned to his grieving mother, who has already lost her other three sons to the war. This epic movie sums up almost every other war film, and it emerges as one of the two or three best in its genre.

Saving Private Ryan has come to Blu-ray looking almost as good as you could hope. The colors seem true to life, unlike in the earlier DVD version. Spielberg's idea was to make the film -- particularly its opening sequence -- resemble newsreel footage. And every detail in the Blu-ray image is so clean and clear that the director's plan results in gripping, gritty footage that showcases the reality of war. I was particularly struck by the opening scene's rough water, which is so detailed that I felt immersed in the heady aroma of beach and ocean.

The film, which won the Academy Award for Best Sound, has been transferred to Blu-ray in perfect DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. All of the channels are in use throughout almost the entire movie, yet there's never any clutter or coarseness. The dialogue is clear, and the surround effects contribute to the action up front without any missteps. John Williams's score is expertly mixed, never overshadowing dialogue but also not fading into the mix. The extras, which are on a separate disc, include a handful of intelligent production featurettes as well as a theatrical trailer and re-release trailer, both in HD. The most important extra, however, is a lengthy documentary on war photography, hosted by Tom Hanks.

Be sure to watch for: In chapter 9 the men take refuge at night in a bombed-out church, which is lit only by candles. There are many wonderful shadows in this scene, along with plenty of shadow detail. Faces are often lit only on one side, but the original photography is so excellent and the transfer so close to perfect that there's never any doubt as to who or what we're seeing.

. . . Rad Bennett
radb@soundstagenetwork.com

More SoundStage! Videos

  • SoundStage! Shorts -  Paradigm's Dual Voice Coils (July 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Audio Research's CD6SE and CD9SE CD Players (May 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Phono Stages - 1) Why You Need One (April 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Phono Stages - 2) Cartridge Types (April 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Phono Stages - 3) More on Cartridges (April 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Phono Stages - 4) Settings (April 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Phono Stages - 5) Internal vs. External (April 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Phono Stages - 6) External Entry Level to Extreme (April 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - 1) Hundreds of Thousands of Records (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - 2) Handling Records (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - 3) Record & Stylus Brushes (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - 4) How To Use Record & Stylus Brushes (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - 5) Spin Clean (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - 6) VPI (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! Expert Record Care/Cleaning - 7) Kirmuss Audio (Mar. 2019)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Reference 160M Amplifier (February 2019)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Livio Cucuzza on Audio Research's Industrial Design (November 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Audio Research Past, Present, and Future (October 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - KEF's New R Series for 2018 (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio Moon 390 Digital/Analog Preamplifier and Streamer (September 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - EISA 2018-2019 Awards Introduction (August 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Simaudio's $118,888 Moon 888 Mono Amplifiers (June 2018)
  • SoundStage! Shorts - Totem's Tribe Tower (May 2018)
  • SoundStage! InSight - Amphion's Three Newest Argon Loudspeakers (April 2018)