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John Ford's 'The Grapes of Wrath' is one of the greatest motion pictures ever made and continues to resonate with the same emotional impact and beauty as it did when it originally premiered. From the performances of Henry Fonda, John Carradine and Jane Darwell to the gorgeous cinematography by Gregg Toland, the film lives on as a true masterpiece of American cinema, eloquently capturing and articulating the will and strength of the human spirit. The enduring classic arrives on Blu-ray with an exceptional audio and video presentation and a healthy collection of supplements. Overall, the quality of the disc is worth the asking price. This is one of those movies that rightfully belongs in any true cinephile's library. A must own.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
John Ford's historical drama makes the trek to Blu-ray with smashing results, looking better than it ever has before. Immediately apparent, the video has been significantly cleaned up and polished, but the overall quality of the presentation is gorgeous, retaining a visible grain structure throughout from beginning to end. The 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode displays a wonderfully crisp and bold contrast balance with lots of clean, vibrant whites and excellent clarity into the far distance. Presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, the high-def picture also comes with exceptional black levels, considering its age. Shadows are deep and true while the small details in the background are never overwhelmed and remain perceptible in most every poorly-lit scene, of which there are many. Definition of the fine objects and textures are striking, allowing viewers to see every smudge of dirt, sweat and wrinkle on the faces of the Joad family.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
Only so much can be done with the recording of a nearly 75-year-old movie, and yet, Fox surprises with this amazing DTS-HD Master Audio mono soundtrack. Despite being limited to the center channel, the lossless mix offers an appreciable wide soundstage with excellent fidelity and superb presence. Vocals and character interactions are clean and pitch-perfect, allowing for every inflection and emotional fluctuation in the powerful dialogue to be heard without issue. Dynamics and acoustics are sharply detailed, creating a highly-impressive image with lots of distinct activity in the background. Listeners can make out leaves rustling in the distance, the aimless chatter of people living in the camps and feel the chill caused the howling winds surrounding the Joad farm. The music can be a tad too bright at times in the upper end, but likely originates in the original sound design because aside from that, this is a brilliant high-rez track.
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