Tuesday, September 17, 2019

By the Gods!

Gabriele Antonini and Steve Reeves in HERCULES (1958)

The screengrab above is from the Japan Blu-ray. The image size is great. Click on it and compare it to the screengrabs of the French and German DVDs below. The size difference is incredible. Watching HERCULES in this resolution is simply fantastic. When comparing screen aspect ratios, the Japanese Blu-ray has more screen information on top and the right. The left seems to have more info but it's actually cropped out. The bottom is slightly cropped out in this copy as well.

But the Japanese Blu-ray has some peculiarities. If you look carefully, the skin is super smooth, almost fake looking. There's some sort of filter going on which gives the skin a golden glow. The entire film is bathed in this filter. This filter is visible whenever there's dust or smoke, which is often. The French DVD, which was up to now the best version available, doesn't have that glow. But the German DVD copy (third screengrab with the wrong aspect ratio) also shares the same glow seen in the Japanese copy. I believe this was intentional and not necessarily a bad processing issue with making the Blu-ray transfer.

The second big problem is the image is often too dark. This seems to be a problem with all transfer into HD. The scene with Jason battling the monster (dinosaur) is nearly completely in the dark. Many scenes at night (and there are plenty of them) are too dark. Details that should be visible in day time, like Hercules' belt or tunic, are often just black.

All in all, this is the most complete copy available anywhere. There's no 'Joseph E. Levine presents' at the beginning, which is a good sign. This version is what people saw back then. It's strange that one had to find the best copy in Japan and not Europe. It's a great addition. The filter makes the movie look softer than it should probably be but it's not too distracting once one gets used to it. Maybe one day there'll be a completely uncut, un-cropped, super HD version available soon.

I'll write a more thorough review soon.


Anonymous said...

The Japanese version is what Italian audiences saw back then. In the U.S. it was the Joseph E. Levine version released by Warner Bros. The only copy I know of this on DVD is the one released by Goodtimes years ago. It has the constellation opening. The other copies are the English language ones prepared in Europe with the credits against red background with pillars and different dubbing. I really dislike that
flat waxy look some of the Blu-ray transfers give to films.

stonesmasher said...

What's the total runtime of the Japanese BD?

PEPLUM TV said...

The French DVD has Joseph E. Levine presents at the start. When I saw that I knew I wouldn't be seeing the original cut. The opening credit has the red background.

The Constellation opening credits is the one released in North America with a different dub than the International English one. The Goodtimes one is not in widescreen, if I recall correctly.


The run time is 1:43:10 without closing (Fine or Fin or The End).