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Roman Holiday (Blu-ray) review

Roman Holiday (Blu-ray) review
« on: September 07, 2020, 11:09:40 AM »
Roman Holiday (Blu-ray) review

Studio: Paramount     
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Rating: Not Rated
Film: 5/5

Director William Wyler’s 1953 fairy tale was one of Hollywood’s first on-location motion pictures and memorably captures the bustling streets and iconic sites of Rome.  Roman Holiday expresses the exhilaration of joyously breaking free as the lead character escapes her royal obligations against the backdrop of post-war Europe embracing long-awaited peace.

The film features a legendary, Oscar-winning performance from Audrey Hepburn (in her first starring role), as a princess who, rebelling against her royal obligations, explores Rome on her own. She soon meets and American newspaperman (Gregory Peck) who pretends ignorance of her true identity, in the hopes of obtaining an exclusive story. Naturally, his plan falters as they inevitably fall in love.

Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was blacklisted for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee and his name was not included in the film’s original credits.  In 1992 the Board of Governors of the Academy voted to finally credit Trumbo for the “Story Writing” Oscar and his widow received a statuette in 1993.  In 2011, the WGA restored Trumbo’s name to the screenwriting credits.  This is the first physical home entertainment release to correctly credit Dalton Trumbo with both the screenplay and story by credits both on packaging and the film itself.

My Thoughts
The only Audrey Hepburn film I had ever seen was Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which was made about eight years after this debut performance and it’s easy to see how she became one of the most iconic movie stars of the 1950s. For one, she’s drop-dead gorgeous. Second, her joyous personality is infectious. Finally, her million-dollar smile will melt your heart.

About the Restoration
The original negative was processed at a local film lab in Rome and was unfortunately badly scratched and damaged.  The film had to be pieced back together, but the splices were so weak due to the damage that extensive amounts of tape had to be used to allow the negative to make it through a printing machine.  Because of the fragile state of the negative, a Dupe Negative was made and then blown up a few thousandths of an inch to cover all the splice tape that held the original negative together.

In anticipation of this new Blu-ray release, the film was digitally restored using the Dupe Negative and a Fine Grain element to capture the best possible image.  Every frame was reviewed, and the film received extensive clean up to remove thousands of scratches, bits of dirt, and other damage.  Because audio elements to properly up-mix to 5.1 do not exist, the original mono track was remastered, and minor anomalies were corrected.  The result is a film returned to its original vibrancy and beauty that remains true to director William Wyler’s vision. 

The film was then scanned into 4K and then downrezed to 1080p for this Blu-ray release (sadly, it isn’t available in 4K). The black and white photography is excellent—although Rome should be viewed in full color, but I digress—and the restoration is considered a job well done. Perfect? No, but given its age it’s probably the best it has looked. The Dolby TrueHD Mono track is about what you’d expect but at least the dialog is always intelligible.

Video 4.5/5

Audio 4/5 (Dolby TrueHD Mono)

Special Features:

·        Filmmaker Focus: Leonard Maltin on Roman Holiday           
·        Behind the Gates: Costumes
·        Rome with a Princess
·        Audrey Hepburn: The Paramount Years 
·        Dalton Trumbo: From A-List to Blacklist 
·        Paramount in the '50s: Remembering Audrey
·        Theatrical Trailers
·        Four Photo Galleries:  Production, The Movie, Publicity, The Premiere 

After watching this, I really want to see Hepburn’s other films from this era. The entire family had a blast watching this. Granted, we were all a bit uncomfortable with the age difference between the leads but thinking about other films from that era it always seems like the young lady is with a much older gentleman. In this case, Gregory Peck was twice her age! Regardless, this is a fantastic film and Paramount has done a fabulous job on the restoration. Highly recommended.

Reference Review System:
Reference Review System:
 JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
 (Calibrated with Portrait Displays CalMAN color calibration software & C6-HDR Meter from Portrait Displays)
 Stewart Filmscreen - Firehawk 110” 2.35:1 Fixed Screen
 Anthem AVM60 Audio/Video Processor
 ATI AT527NC Powering Bed Channels

ATI AT524NC Powering Atmos Speakers
 Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
 System Controller: URC MX-980

M&K S-150 THX Ultra (R-C-L Speakers)
M&K SS-150 x4 (Surround Speakers)
 Atlantic Technology IC6-OBA x 4 Overhead Speakers
 SVS PC-Ultra Cylinder Subwoofer
 HSU VTF-15H MK2 Subwoofer
 JL Audio Fathom F110 Subwoofers x 2 (stacked)

JL Audio Dominion D110 Subwoofer x 2 (stacked)

Mini DSP HD controlling all subwoofers
 Audioquest and Monoprice - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
 PureAV PF60 Power Conditioner
Blu-ray Reviewer / Technical Writer
Sound & Vision Magazine

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