Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 13th, 2004
Spencer Tracy arrives in Nuremberg to sit as chief justice at a war crimes tribunal. In thedock are three judges and a prosecutor, accused of crimes against humanity. Chief among theaccused judges is Burt Lancaster, whose record prior to the Nazi era was exemplary. Theprosecutor is Richard Widmark, driven to fight for justice no matter what the wider geo-politicalcontext might be. Defending the accused is Maximilian Schell (who won an Oscar), stopping atnothing to protect h…s clients.
Shown for the first time in a film is footage from the death camps, and the impact of thisscene is a terrible today as it was in 1961. The drama is compelling, and the 3 hours-plus whipby. The questions raised are troubling ones — this is not a film that lets anyone off the hook –and some of those questions have become uncomfortably relevant once again today. Essentialviewing.
The sound comes in both the original mono and a new 5.1 track. The surround track avoidsmost of the sins of remixes, and there are no surround voices. There is very little surround of anykind, however, barring some music and the occasional bit of crowd roar. The dialogue isgenerally clear, but there is some occasional muzziness, and a tendency to buzz when voices areraised particularly high.
The picture’s aspect ratio is the original 1.66:1 widescreen (non-anamorphic). The imageis crisp and sharp, and though there is no edge enhancement, there is some grain (though notenough to detract from the viewing experience). The blacks are good, as are the black-and-whitetones. The print is in good shape, with virtually zero speckling. The one really noticeable flawis a strobing flicker that occurs around the 76 minute mark.
Writer Abby Mann and Maximilian Schell interview each other, and their conversation isvery much a meeting of the mutual admiration society. “The Value of a Single Human Being”is Mann reading Tracy’s verdict speech, accompanied by stills of the film — a feature whosepoint isn’t abundantly clear. “A Tribute to Stanley Kramer” is a 15-minute look at the directorat the film, as recalled by his widow and Mann. The photo gallery is divided into CostumeDesign, Set Design, On Location, Stanley Kramer at Work, and Premiere in Berlin. The picturesare not, unfortunately, labelled. Finally, there’s the theatrical trailer. The menu’s main screen,intro and transitions are animated and scored.
A good transfer of a fine film, though the extras could have been rather more in-depth.
Special Features List
- “In Conversation: Abby Mann and Maximilian Schell”
- “The Value of a Single Human Being” Featurette
- “A Tribute to Stanley Kramer” Featurette
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer