Today we take a look at a Blu-ray of one of the finest films to come out of Robin Williams’ career, Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir and presented for the very first time in high-definition.
Academy Award winner Robin Williams delivers one of his most memorable performances in DEAD POETS SOCIETY — digitally restored and presented for the first time ever in breathtaking Blu-ray High Definition. For generations, Welton Academy students have been groomed to live lives of conformity and tradition — until new professor John Keating inspires them to think for themselves, live life to the fullest and “Carpe Diem.” This unconventional approach awakens the spirits of the students, but draws the wrath of a disapproving faculty when an unexpected tragedy strikes the school. With unforgettable characters and beautiful cinematography, DEAD POETS SOCIETY will captivate and inspire you time and time again.
Jumping right into the review, the film is presented in a nice 1080p AVC-encoded video transfer that certainly makes the film look the best that we’ve ever seen. The transfer allows for some beautiful colors, particularly of the exterior shots of the campus during the Fall, but the movie doesn’t have a very large color palette to take advantage of when the scenes take place indoors. In fact, despite the sharpness of the transfer, the film tends to be a little on the soft side. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for a film of it’s time. The blacks and contrasts are good and rich and provide a great deal of atmosphere for the indoor scenes by bringing out the shadows and textures of the building while adding a great amount of depth to the classrooms.
There are moments of the film where artifacting can be seen but overall, there is very little distortion to complain about. Had the film been sharpened up in the transfer process, there may have been more scenes that could have suffered but fortunately, Disney has decided to leave the ‘softness’ of the movie as it was originally filmed.
The 5.1 DTS-HD audit mix is presented very well. Considering the age of the film, I was amazed at how much I picked up on after the audio had been cleaned up for this release. The dialogue in the movie is now crystal clear as are the subtle, ambient background noises.
The Blu-ray also includes a good amount of Special Features that have been taken straight from the Special Edition DVD release and are all presented in standard definition. Personally, I was hoping that they would have added some new features for the Blu-ray release instead of just using what they put together for the DVD but it’s still more than satisfactory for fans of the film.
• Dead Poets: A Look Back (27 minutes)
• Raw Takes (8 minutes)
• Master of Sound: Alan Splet (11 minutes)
• Cinematography Master Class (15 minutes)
• Theatrical Trailer (3 minutes)
This is easily the highest quality presentation of the film that has ever been released and looks especially good considering the transfer came off of a movie filmed 22 years ago. Disney has done a wonderful job with this Blu-ray, balancing the technology in hand to deliver such a high quality transfer while knowing when to step back to keep the director’s initial vision intact.