Dead Poets Society Blu-ray Review
- Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit), French Dolby Digital 5.0
- Subtitles: English SDH, French
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: PG
- Run Time: 129 Mins.
- Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
- Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
- Blu-ray Release Date: January 17, 2012
- List Price: $20
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In one of his most memorable early dramatic performances, Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting) plays a the new English teacher, John Keating, at the exclusive all boys preparatory boarding school Welton Academy. An academy steeped in tradition, Keaton’s unorthodox teaching methods quickly draw attention, but he soon begins to inspire his class of high school seniors to “Carpe Diem,” seize the day, and to question things. He awakens their creative energies and their spirits of exploration, but when tragedy strikes, his methods are seen as radical and questioning authority. Keaton becomes the scapegoat for the disapproving faculty and parents.
Directed by Peter Weir (The Truman Show) with a slight sentimentality, but never crossing the line into the saccharine, and with gorgeous cinematography of the Delaware locations by John Seale, Dead Poets ranks as one of the best final calling cards of the 1980s cinema. Robin Williams’ performance is memorable, and, thanks to strong script writing, often quoted.
Dead Poets Society features early performances by the likes of Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard and Josh Charles.
While I have seen stronger looking catalogue releases from the Disney labels, for a film from 1989, Dead Poets Society‘s AVC/MPEG-4 1080p transfer is actually a rather good one. There is little source damage present to speak of and there doesn’t appear to be any edge enhancement or heavy DNR (Digital Noise Reduction) applied. While the image does look a tad soft, grain is present and imparts a reasonably organic, film-like appearance. Contrast isn’t as strong as I would like it to be, but it is acceptable as is the amount of shadow detail present in darker scenes.
Dialogue is clear and there are natural dynamics present in the charming, folksy score from Maurice Jarre, but much of the activity in this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix takes place across the front three channels with very little, if anything at all, to be heard coming from the surrounds, making a 5.1 mix somewhat pointless here. There is also very little in the way of low frequency extension.
The video supplements offer nothing new and are all older, standard definition port-overs. There is also an audio commentary with director Peter Weir and others included.
- Dead Poets: A Look Back (1.33:1; SD; 00:26:55) – The actors offer their thoughts on what it was like working with Peter Weir on this film.
- Raw Takes (1.33:1; 00:07:57) – An outtake from the original film, this scene was originally supposed to take place after the performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
- Master of Sound: Alan Splet (1.33:1; SD; 00:10:59)
- Cinematography Master Class (1.33:1; SD; 00:14:47)
- Theatrical Trailer (1.33:1; SD)
- Audio Commentary – With commentary by director Peter Weir, cinematographer John Seale, and writer Tom Schulman.
The Definitive Word
A quaint and lushly filmed coming of age tragedy with memorable performances, Dead Poets Society comes to Blu-ray in a solid, film-like transfer from Disney’s Touchstone imprint that would fit nicely into anyone’s collection.
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