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4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review: '1917'

Posted on Monday, April 20, 2020 8:42 PM and updated on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 9:37 AM


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The Academy Award winning World War I drama 1917 was released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD on March 24, 2020. It was released to digital streaming services on March 10.

Released in theaters on Christmas Day in 2019 and then wider on January 10, 2020, the movie took a unique first-person, single-shot point of view of two British soldiers, Schofield and Blake, who are sent on a mission against time to cross enemy territory and deliver a message that will stop a deadly attack on hundreds of soldiers--Blake’s own brother among them.

When it went wide in January, it took the #1 spot in the Weekly Box Office Report, and stayed in the Top 10 for eight weeks. It was no doubt assisted in that performance by garnering ten Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, Directing, and more, and then winning for Sound Mixing, Cinematography, and Visual Effects at the Oscar award ceremony on February 9th.

Reviews of the Movie

I wrote a Reader Review of the movie after seeing it in January 2020. Now that I've seen the movie a second time, my impressions of the movie have improved slightly. The reasons for that are two-fold.

Seeing a movie again will always provide one with an opportunity to notice things that weren't able to be appreciated the first time around. Action movies are especially so, as you're so busy trying to take everything in, it can be difficult to notice the more subtle nuances of settings, character action and interactions, etc. Watching the extras for this movie also heightened my appreciation for the art of making the movie, and this is where having the physical disc or a streaming version with extras can enhance your enjoyment of the movie. 1917 was nominated for Academy Awards for a reason, and being able to enjoy the music or see how a scene was filmed can elevate the regard one has for a movie.

You can find more reviews for the movie on our Reviews page for 1917.

Theatrical Details

1917 was presented in traditional movie theaters at a 2.39:1 aspect ratio in Dolby Atmos sound (where available), and in IMAX theaters with a 1.90:1 aspect ratio. I viewed the movie in a traditional theater equipped with Dolby Atmos sound. This is a visually beautiful movie, even as it portrays the ravages of the first World War. Cinematographer Roger Deakins earned his Academy Award for his work as he moves the camera as though you are a companion on the journey taken by the main characters, through sets that are equally impressive and heartbreaking as they immerse you into the story. I recall the sound being as good as our local theaters are capable of, with the Atmos sound effect subdued save for the impressive plane flyover that could make one duck. The Oscar-nominated soundtrack definitely takes advantage of a good sound system where one can fully appreciate Thomas Newman's handiwork.

Bonus Features

The following bonus features are available in the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD packages. Please check with the digital streaming provider to ensure that they are available with the version they offer.

  • The Weight of the World: Sam Mendes (4:29) - Academy Award® winner Sam Mendes discusses his personal connection to World War I.
  • Allied Forces: Making 1917 (12:01) - Learn how the one shot, 360-degree format was executed and the pivotal role Academy Award® winner Roger Deakins served in bringing Sam Mendes' vision to life.
  • The Score of 1917 (3:52) - Composer Thomas Newman and filmmakers discuss the important role of the Academy Award®-nominated score.
  • In The Trenches (6:59) - Go behind the scenes with the cast of 1917.
  • Recreating History (10:25) - Filmmakers offer a detailed look at the production design challenges of recreating the First World War.
  • Feature Commentary with Director/Co-Writer Sam Mendes
  • Feature Commentary with Director of Photography Roger Deakins

The extras are what one comes to expect with extras for movies. The feature commentaries are quite interesting, and I found the one with Roger Deakins especially so. You can use the Chapters menu option to jump around to various scenes to hear their comments for each if you don't want to spend another two hours watching/listening to the movie again.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Cover Artwork

4K Ultra HD combo pack (4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital Code)

This is bar-none the best way to enjoy this movie. The video quality is beautiful when it should be, starting with the fields of flowers, and stark and war-torn when it necessarily has to be as the main characters travel through land previously and currently occupied by the German forces. You are left with the feeling that you were there.

While this movie was presented in IMAX theaters in a different aspect ratio, the 4K Ultra HD disc thankfully does not try to do any aspect ratio changes on the fly. I firmly believe that disc authors that do this should provide those of us that don't want to see varying aspect ratios with an option to turn that feature off.

The audio quality is also incredibly good. Played back on a proper Atmos-equipped sound system, this movie can demonstrate very effectively why watching movies on a mobile device should be relegated to very casual revisiting of familiar stories and not your primary experience. Even those with sound bars and flat panel televisions are going to be missing everything offered by a package like this.

The 4K disc contains the movie as well as the bonus features listed above. The main title screen presents you with the standard options of Play, Chapters, Setup, and Bonus. The choices for the latter are presented immediately upon entering the menu, as if to keep you from missing them once you've seen the movie.

Given the quality of the movie's score, it would have been incredible to see that provided as an isolated track, where you could watch the visuals of the movie while being able to enjoy just the soundtrack. This is a great way to enjoy a movie soundtrack, and it provides another layer of appreciation for the movie itself. I will continue to wish that every movie (well, maybe not every movie) had an isolated score as a bonus feature.

Playback is resumed when choosing Play, so if you watch it in multiple sittings, you'll be able to pick up right where you left off. It would be nice to be presented with a prompt to restart at the beginning, but that can be done easily by going to the Chapters menu. The popup menu pauses the movie with the option of returning to the main menu as well as the aforementioned main menu choices.

Included Blu-ray Disc and Digital Code

Also included in the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack is a Blu-ray disc of the movie and a paper insert containing the code and instructions to redeem it to add the movie to your digital collection via Movies Anywhere.

Upon insertion, the Blu-ray disc plays movie previews for Dark Waters and The Current War on home video, and a 2:38 promo for 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray featuring many Universal titles available on the format. Basically, if you bought the Blu-ray-only edition, don't make that mistake again... After the previews, the Blu-ray menu is very similar to that of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. Similarly, playback is resumed if you stop the movie and come back to it later.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Video: 2160p UHD (2.39:1), Dolby Vision/HDR-10+/HDR-10

Audio: English (Dolby Atmos), French Canadian (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1), Latin American Spanish (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1)

Languages/Subtitles: English, French Canadian, Latin American Spanish

Other Reviews

 

Blu-ray (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Code)

The movie is also available as a combo pack that includes a Blu-ray, DVD, and a digital code. We did not receive that package, but my guess is that the Blu-ray is the same one as what was included in the 4K package.

Purchase from Amazon.com

Video: 1080p HD (2.39:1)

Audio: English (Dolby Atmos), French Canadian (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1), Latin American Spanish (Dolby Digital Plus 7.1)

Languages/Subtitles: English, French Canadian, Latin American Spanish

 

DVD

Purchase from Amazon.com

Video: 480p HD (2.39:1), Anamorphic Widescreen

Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French Canadian (Dolby Digital 5.1), Latin American Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)

Languages/Subtitles: English, French Canadian, Latin American Spanish

 

Digital Streaming

If you're into streaming movies instead of buying/renting them on disc, most major streaming platforms are offering it for sale and for rent. The specifics of the video and audio will vary, however, so if you want Dolby Atmos sound, for example, you'll need to confirm that it is available with the version and provider you choose.

Purchase from Amazon.com, FandangoNOW, Redbox on Demand

Video: Varies by Provider

Audio: Varies by Provider

Languages/Subtitles: Varies by Provider



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