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How the West Was Won Blu-ray

United States
DigiBook Warner Bros. | 1962 | 165 min | Rated G | Sep 09, 2008

How the West Was Won (Blu-ray)

Codec: VC-1 (22.09 Mbps)
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 2.89:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.59:1

English: Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (640 kbps)
French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
German: Dolby Digital 5.1

English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, German SDH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish… (more)

50GB Blu-ray Disc
Two-disc set (2 BDs)


Region free

List price: $27.98, Price history

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Movie rating
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Blu-ray rating
Video 4.4 of 54.4
Audio 4.3 of 54.3
Extras 4.2 of 54.2
Based on 32 user reviews

Movie appeal


How the West Was Won


How the West Was Won Blu-ray delivers great video and audio in this fan-pleasing Blu-ray release

Epic and episodic tale of the development of the American West from the 1830s through the Civil War to the end of the century, as seen through the eyes of the pioneer Prescott family. As the Prescotts struggle with danger and loss, and newfound love, the vast canvas of US history unfolds around them.

Filmed in breathtaking CINERAMA.

For more about How the West Was Won and the How the West Was Won Blu-ray release, see How the West Was Won Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.

Starring: James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, Debbie Reynolds, Richard Widmark, George Peppard
Narrator: Spencer Tracy
Directors: John Ford, Henry Hathaway, George Marshall

» See full cast & crew

How the West Was Won Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.0 of 5

In a word, the picture was stunning. That applies to both the 2.89:1 format and the curved screen smilebox simulation. For a 45 year old film, the Blu-ray picture quality is very good, defined and vibrant. Some interesting anomalies are visible--occasional strobing/flicker, some signs of two vertical seams linking three distinct areas of the film, and warping toward the sides of the picture. These anomalies are due to the original Cinerama production, so it may be instructive to describe this process. Cinerama involves three cameras aimed at different angles to capture 146 degrees of horizontal planes and 55 degrees of vertical planes--meant to simulate human vision. The idea was to project the film using three synchronized projectors onto a curved screen to create a wraparound effect. To maximize color vibrancy, the color film for Cinerama was manufactured by Technicolor, and the lifelike contrast really comes through in the transfer to 1080p.

Regarding the transfer, Warner produced a video master to capture the essence of the film's original "Cinerama Roadshow" exhibition. This representation was achieved by combining the three Cinerama filmstrips into a single, seamless 2.89:1 image that only occasionally shows visible signs of separation between the three areas. How did Warner accomplish this? The original negatives were each scanned at 2k resolution and digitally assembled to make a single 6k image. "Digital software was created specifically for this restoration to resolve camera alignment and image linearity issues inherent in the original photography," according to Warner. The studio developed the "SmileBox" version using a rendering application that treated the 6k image as if it was projected into a 3D wraparound screen, and output at 1080p for Blu-ray. Did it work? Yes. Some warping visible in the 2.89:1 format is alleviated or reduced in the "SmileBox" format. I don't wish to give the impression that the "SmileBox" completely fixes the warping issues, but there does seem to be slightly less of a fishbowl effect. Once the viewer becomes accustomed to this unusual display approach, it may be preferable, especially for home theaters with a projector and large screen. Check out Disc 2 and judge for yourself.

The resolution generated from this approach, while not perfect, is actually better than some modern films produced for Blu-ray release. Despite the problems alluded to earlier, specifically the warping effect, the definition and depth is good. Motion blur tends to retain an analog quality that I found less fatiguing to the eye than some DNR'ed movies, although it was difficult to focus on some details in landscape shots. Watch the stampeding buffalo scene. Definition of the animals suffers a bit, but static objects remain sharp. Skin color, foliage and other earth tones are rendered gorgeously, with a richness not achieved in other Westerns from that era, such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Costume textures and facial expressions are captured very convincingly, often with superb detail.

How the West Was Won Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  4.0 of 5

Further lending credence to the Blu-ray production credentials of How the West Was Won, Cinerama features multichannel sound. In fact, it uses seven channels of audio, which begs the question why Warner didn't issue a 7.1 track that would have been a better approximation of the original production instead of the 5.1 track included on both discs. The bulk of the sound is anchored up front, with only minor ambient material assigned to the rear channels. Orchestral arrangements of traditional American folk music are the most notable aspect of the soundtrack, although rushing rapids, stampeding buffalo, galloping horses and chugging steam engines are also prominent at different points in the movie. But the importance of music becomes apparent at the film's outset as the overture plays, referring to the West as a promised land. The strings and wind instruments have an analog quality with extended treble, although there is no denying that the large ensemble performances sound muddy or constricted, especially when a chorus of voices--Dave Guard and the Whiskeyhill Singers--and the full orchestra is used. Voices sound crisp and retain all the actors' identifiable characteristics. I had to laugh when I heard James Stewart's voice which has so much presence, warmth and clarity, because he does tend to slur some words and speak in a folksy braggadocio style for his role. HT fans will also enjoy the deep bass that rumbles from the LFE channel. The subwoofer gets a serious, window- rattling workout that augments many scenes, including white water rapids and stampeding buffalo.

How the West Was Won: Other Editions



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How the West Was Won Blu-ray, News and Updates

How the West Was Won Gets Non-Digibook, Single-disc Blu-ray - October 20, 2010

Warner Home Video has announced that, on January 4, 2011, it will re-release How the West Was Won on Blu-ray in standard packaging. This Cinerama-shot Western had been released in 2008, in a two-disc DigiBook edition. However, this re-release has only one disc ...

Today on Blu-ray - September 9th - September 9, 2008

As a filmmaker, Quentin Tarantino has a following similar to that of a presidential nominee. Half of those who see his films praise his ability to seamlessly integrate over-the-top action sequences with stylized dialog in order to tell a compelling story. The other ...

How the West Was Won Delayed Two Weeks - June 24, 2008

Warner Home Video has revealed that the upcoming Blu-ray release of 'How the West Was Won' has been delayed two week and is now scheduled to hit store shelves on September 9th, day-and-date with the DVD release. This newly restored and remastered film will be presented ...

» Show more related news posts for How the West Was Won Blu-ray

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