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From Here to Eternity(1953)
Life and love on an army base in Hawaii days before the Pearl Harbor attacks.
For more about From Here to Eternity and the From Here to Eternity Blu-ray release, see From Here to Eternity Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on September 24, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Donna Reed, Frank Sinatra, Philip Ober
Director: Fred Zinnemann
» See full cast & crew
From Here to Eternity Blu-ray Review
A must-own classic.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, September 24, 2013
Author James Jones' From Here to Eternity, a fictional tale loosely based on his experiences in pre-World War II Hawaii, was once deemed impossible to film, not because of any sort of technically unachievable scope required to translate it to the screen but rather for its frankness, heavy adult themes, language, and incorporation of subjects deemed too racy, too amoral, too controversial to be included into a 1950s film. And that's even considering that it was a toned-down version of Jones' book that was first released in 1951, not the story Jones had originally penned. Nevertheless, the film was green-lit at Columbia, attracted an all-star cast, found commercial and critical success, and won numerous Oscar statues in 1953, amongst them Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor and Actress. Though certainly rather "tame" by today's standards -- there's sometimes more morally and socially questionable content during the halftime show of the Super Bowl than anything found in this film -- it's easy to see why the film, and its source material, generated controversy more than sixty years ago but also why it was awarded with commercial and critical praise on its way to enjoying a number of Academy wins and nominations. It's beautifully constructed, impeccably acted, and an incredible story of real, raw, uncomfortable life on the unknowing brink of disaster.
Army Private and bugler extraordinaire Robert Prewitt (Montgomery Clift) has transferred to Hawaii's Schofield Barracks, some time in 1941. He's transferred in for a personal matter, which he reveals to his Sergeant, Warden (Burt Lancaster), and his Captain, Holmes (Philip Ober), to be the result of a bruised ego when an inferior bugler was promoted above him at his last posting. But his bugling skill is of no concern to either Warden or Holmes. Instead, it's his boxing skill that has Prewitt on their radar screens. Prewitt's commanding officers attempt to persuade him to join the regimental boxing team and immediately become the top middleweight on the island. More, he's promised fast promotion within the Army's ranks in exchange for lacing up the gloves. Prewitt refuses, steadfastly. He has his own reasons, but his refusal his met with not only disappointment, but anger and a longing for revenge. Warden and Holmes proceed to make Prewitt's life a living hell, tasking him with extra duty, added physical fitness routines, and general verbal bullying. Meanwhile, Warden carries on a secret affair with Holmes' wife, Karen (Deborah Kerr).
From Here to Eternity's story deals in everything from marital infidelity to what amounts to military sanctioned bullying. Within those story arcs are themes almost too numerous to explore both within the film's structural and dramatic context and its place in the greater society from which it hails, not to mention how it holds up by today's cultural standards and within today's film industries, two entities which, of course, are certainly not mutually exclusive. Delving into everything the picture has to offer beyond its superficial story would require more than the space afforded to and the time allotted for this review. Choosing even one is no easy task, considering not only the various story lines and the perspectives offered of them throughout the film, but also its aforementioned controversial elements which, of course, tie directly into the film's most fascinating areas worthy of further study.
Subjectively, however, the film's most interesting story arc is that of Private Prewitt, a character who endures unimaginable brutality -- and brutality if not openly approved by his highest-ranking commanding officers, certainly not dissuaded -- for holding firm to his own ethical and personal code. Prewitt, like his fellow soldiers, is offered promotion for participating in his outfit's boxing league. His refusal is met with harsh punishment, forced extra duty, and increased physical activity that slowly morphs into more a personal combativeness as his peers become frustrated with his refusal to break. Prewitt never backs down, nor does he ever shy away from confronting those who would do him wrong. Yet, to a point, he performs his required extra duties, even as they grow more unfair, more challenging, more humiliating, and more blatant. Is Prewitt a man to be admired for steadfast convictions, or a man who may be labeled as overly stubborn and willingly self destructive? The answer to that question is best examined through the prism of the film's final minutes and the character's completed arc, which brings about another set of questions on the role and place of morality, duty, friendship, determination, war, and fate in life. Suffice it to say this is a complex, challenging film but a rewarding experience that will leave viewers not only satisfied with its fascinatingly ambiguous themes but also the excellence of its more superficial characteristics.
From Here to Eternity constructs at a slow pace, and very occasionally to the point of ambling. Despite a few slower stretches that feel a little repetitive but that nevertheless serve to build the character arcs and dynamics -- chiefly the repeated abuse Prewitt suffers throughout the film -- the film proves tight and absorbing. It flows between its primary story arcs and the development of its secondary characters with an effortlessness that's largely absent in today's bigger blockbuster-driven pictures. The slow reveals of the "whys" in the characters' decisions only further reinforce the pull into their stories and, with the biggest ones, redefine everything that's come before, to the point that a second viewing proves just as absorbing as the first, allowing the audience to see it from a different perspective right from the start. It's superb writing and filmmaking both, a picture that needs to be seen not for its then-controversial subject matter but for the way it's so smartly assembled. The cast is uniformly fantastic, too. There's not a poor choice throughout and not a hint of a bad performance. These are carefully constructed but effortlessly executed works of performance art that capture the subtleties of the characters, both inwardly and outwardly, and are most deserving of the numerous Oscar wins and nominations afforded them.
From Here to Eternity Blu-ray, Video Quality
From Here to Eternity's Blu-ray release is nothing short of spectacular. The approximately framed 4x3 image, retaining the picture's natural theatrical exhibition ratio and placing vertical black bars on either side of the 1.78:1 frame, looks immaculate, enjoying a pure, rich cinematic texture. Grain is consistent and moderately heavy, but it aids in creating a handsome film-like flavor that leaves the movie looking very crisp and well defined. Details are exacting. Image clarity never lacks, and with the absence of digital scrubbing the transfer reveals every heavy crease in military clothing, textured rank insignia patches, and facial detail. Even the opening title credits appear very sharp and accurately displayed. Only a handful of shots look overly processed, unnatural, or smooth. Black levels are rich and only in one or two instances even the slightest bit overpowering. This is a pristine black-and-white image and one of the finest such transfers the Blu-ray format has seen yet.
From Here to Eternity Blu-ray, Audio Quality
From Here to Eternity arrives on Blu-ray with a myriad of language and subtitle options, chief amongst the former a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack and the film's original monaural presentation. The expanded 5.1 track has gracefully expanded upon the original presentation, which is itself presented nicely and accurately. The 5.1 presentation amps up a few key scenes and features more robust and widely spaced music but largely remains true to a classic front-and-center sort of feel. There's a rich, rather wide presence to the opening music. It enjoys light surround support and good, honest clarity, not up to the standards of modern soundtracks but certainly very well pronounced here. The track features a few instances of wide, natural echoing as soldiers march and sing in unison. Otherwise, there's not much in the way of ambient sound effects, though crowded halls do create a decent little atmospheric presence. A fistfight in chapter eleven lacks much in the way of oomph -- the punches fall rather sonically flat -- but the track gains incredible intensity at the end attack. Planes zip around the stage with natural movement while gunfire rips through and explosions power their way into the listening area with even but heavy bass. Dialogue remains firmly grounded in the center and plays with even, crisp delivery. This is an excellent sound presentation from Sony.
From Here to Eternity Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
From Here to Eternity contains a short listing of supplements, but in terms of content they rank very highly.
From Here to Eternity Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
From Here to Eternity is one of the best films of the 1950s and a landmark picture for a number of reasons. It may not be so scandalous now as it was then, but it remains a near faultless cinema experience, blending together incredible storytelling, captivating narratives, and superb acting in what is certainly one of the classic, unforgettable pictures of its, or any, time. Sony's Blu-ray release of From Here to Eternity features standout video, excellent audio, and a high quality assortment of extras, headlined by a fantastic picture-in-picture experience. From Here to Eternity earns my highest recommendation.
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From Here to Eternity Blu-ray, News and Updates
• From Here to Eternity Blu-ray - July 22, 2013
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the 60th Anniversary Blu-ray release of Fred Zinnemann's From Here to Eternity, starring Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Deborah Kerr, Frank Sinatra and Donna Reed. Restored from a 4K scan, the 1953 classic arrives ...
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