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Wake in Fright Blu-ray

United States
Blu-ray + Digital Copy Image Entertainment | 1971 | 109 min | Not rated | Jan 15, 2013

Wake in Fright (Blu-ray)

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Resolution: 1080p
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1

English: Dolby Digital 2.0 (192kbps)
Note: Advertised DTS-HD MA 2.0 ...

English SDH

25GB Blu-ray Disc
Single disc (1 BD)
Digital copy

Region A (locked)

List price: $29.97, Price history

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Blu-ray rating
Video 4.0 of 54.0
Audio 3.0 of 53.0
Extras 4.0 of 54.0
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Movie appeal


Wake in Fright


Wake in Fright Blu-ray delivers great video and decent audio in this excellent Blu-ray release

Wake in Fright is the story of John Grant, a teacher who arrives in the outback mining town of Bundanyabba planning to stay overnight before catching the plane to Sydney. But a long detour of gambling, alcohol and brutality change Grant's plans.

For more about Wake in Fright and the Wake in Fright Blu-ray release, see Wake in Fright Blu-ray Review published by on where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.

Director: Ted Kotcheff
Writers: Evan Jones, Kenneth Cook (I)
Starring: Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond, Jack Thompson, John Meillon, Chips Rafferty, Sylvia Kay (I)

» See full cast & crew

Wake in Fright Blu-ray, Video Quality

  4.0 of 5

It's generally agreed that the transfer of Wake in Fright used by Drafthouse Films is identical to that appearing on the Blu-ray previously released in Australia. One could hardly expect otherwise, since Drafthouse has neither access to the elements nor the financial incentive to produce a new transfer.

Let's start with the obvious positives. The image on Drafthouse's 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray reflects an excellent balance of bright, colorful frames in daytime scenes and dark, properly graded shadows at night. Blacks are deep and solid where they should be, and contrast in the bright (very bright) heat of day is appropriately set to bring out depth without blowing out detail. Except for an early scene on the train, in which Grant is imagining his Sydney holiday, director Kotcheff stipulated that he wanted no cool colors in the film, and the transfer accurately reproduces the intended palette dominated by reds, browns, oranges and ochres. (The daytime sky, of course, remains naturally blue.)

From here, the situation becomes more problematic. The Australian Blu-ray has been repeatedly criticized for excessive application of so-called "DNR", a term that, it should be recalled, stands for "digital noise reduction" but has come to be applied indiscriminately in numerous instances where posters on internet fora have found fault with a video transfer. In some instances the criticism is legitimately applied but inaptly named; in others, the criticism is simply wrong, reflecting lack of familiarity with the source, ignorance of relevant film technology or some other flaw at the viewer's end.

WIF presents a unique problem, because there isn't a good "original" against which to compare the Blu-ray image. WIF was restored entirely in the digital domain, after extensive comparison tests revealed that a photochemical restoration would harvest substantially less detail. A sample comparison of a frame restored by each method is reproduced in the booklet included with the Blu-ray. Nothing in any of the restoration articles I have read indicates that a 1971 print, or any other vintage source, was used as a standard by the restoration team.

Throughout their commentary, director Kotcheff and editor Buckley repeatedly point out areas of detail that they say have never previously been visible, including on release prints struck from the negative in 1971. Now, since the evil of so-called "DNR" is to strip away visible detail, what are we to make of a situation where the people who made the film say we're seeing more detail than we ever have before?

The image on the Drafthouse disc is certainly soft and frequently smooth in a manner that may (but does not necessarily) indicate the application of noise reduction software or high frequency filtering. However, similar effects can also be created by selective color grading and manipulations of contrast, both of which have consciously been applied here. Certainly there's none of the "wax dummy" quality in faces associated with the heavy application of DNR. Faces shine from perspiration, but Kotcheff confirms in his commentary that this was deliberate and intended.

A fair question can be asked as to whether detail from the initial image capture was sacrificed in digital post-processing for the sake of creating a "cleaner" final product deemed more pleasing by the restoration team. But how could that question ever be answered? One would require access to the raw scan, assuming it still exists in unmodified form.

WIF was not restored by faceless technicians working at the behest of corporate bean counters. The work was performed under supervision of the Australian National Film and Sound Archive by top craftsmen who have proudly stood up and taken responsibility for their choices. The film's director and editor have signed off on their work. Though an occasional shot gave me pause, overall I found the results to be detailed and free of artifacts, and I have scored it accordingly. I anticipate dissent, but I think that people claiming "DNR" need to explain exactly what has been "DNR'd" out of the image in WIF, given the fact that much of what's currently there was never more than a latent possibility in the negative until this version. Ultimately, if one is a true purist, the real question raised by the Blu-ray of WIF is how to judge a restoration that shows you more than the original film.

For the director's comments on the restoration, please see's interview, which can be found here.

Wake in Fright Blu-ray, Audio Quality

  3.0 of 5

Contrary to the jacket copy, the audio is lossy DD 2.0, and it gets the job done, although the dynamic range is somewhat limited. Whether that would improve with lossless encoding is unclear, but I suspect that Drafthouse was not provided with a full-range source to encode. Grant's dialogue is perfectly clear, but the Australian accents of many of the supporting characters are sufficiently thick that you may need the aid of the subtitles. The sound editing of WIF is sophisticated, but not in the way we think of today. It uses intrusions of sound (odd volumes, sounds that don't belong, abrupt silences) to enhance Grant's sense of dislocation and the general air of unreality. The DD track conveys this effect adequately and also does a surprisingly good job with the soundtrack by pop musician John Scott.

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Wake in Fright Blu-ray, News and Updates

Interview with Ted Kotcheff, Director of Wake in Fright - January 16, 2013

Director Ted Kotcheff's Wake in Fright was almost lost after its box office failure in 1971. Meanwhile, Mr. Kotcheff has enjoyed a prolific career, including twelve years as executive producer of the TV series Law and Order: SVU. Now Wake in Fright is receiving ...

This Week on Blu-ray: January 15-22 - January 12, 2013

For the week of January 15th, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment brings Taken 2 to Blu-ray. The action-thriller slightly twists the format established by its 2008 predecessor; this time around, it is Liam Neeson's former CIA operative who finds himself kidnapped ...

Wake in Fright Blu-ray - October 1, 2012

Image Entertainment has officially announced that it will release on Blu-ray director Ted Kotcheff's Wake in Fright (1971), starring Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond and Chips Rafferty. The release will be available for purchase on January 15th, 2013.

» Show more related news posts for Wake in Fright Blu-ray

Wake in Fright Blu-ray, Forum Discussions

Topic Replies Last post
Wake in Fright (1971) - January 15,2013 (

Official Thread

99 Feb 16, 2015
Fright Night 2 : New Blood Oct 1 126 Apr 28, 2014
Stage Fright (Jerome Sable/2014) 13 Aug 12, 2014

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