WSR Detailed LaserDisc Review


Reviewed In Issue 33 Of Widescreen Review® Stars:
Steve McQueen, Dustin Hoffman, Victor Jory, Don Gordon & Anthony Zerbe

WSR Review Scores
Picture Rating: 2
Sound Rating: 3
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Reference Systems
Critics' Composite Score:
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DVD General Information
(Studio/Distributor): Warner Home Video
(Catalog Number): 916
(MPAA Rating): PG
(Retail Price): $39.98
(Running Time In Minutes): 150
(Color Type): Color
(Chaptered/Scene Access): Yes
(Closed Captioned): Yes
(Theatrical Release): 1973
(LD Release Date): 02/99
(THX® Digitally Mastered): No

Credits Information
(Director): Franklin J. Schaffner
(Screenplay/Written By): Dalton Trumbo & Lorenzo Semple, Jr.
(Story): NA
(Music): Jerry Goldsmith
(Director Of Photography):
(Production Designer): Anthony Masters
(Visual Effects):
(Costume Designer):
(Editor): Robert Swink, ACE
(Supervising Sound Editors):
(Re-Recording Mixers):
(Executive Producers): Ted Richmond
(Co-Producers): NA
(Producers): Robert Dorfmann & Franklin J. Schaffner

DVD Picture Information
(Principal Photography): Panavision
(Theatrical Aspect Ratio): 2.40:1
(Measured LaserDisc Aspect Ratio): 2.40:1

DVD Sound Information
(DVD Soundtrack): Dolby Digital Surround
(Theatrical Sound): Mag Stereo
(Theatrical Re-Issue Soundtrack):
(Remastered Dolby Digital): No
(Remastered DTS Digital Surround): No
(Additional Languages):

WSR Narrative Review
Story Synopsis:
Based on the book by Henri Charriere, Papillon is the fictionalized story of Charriere’s real-life escape from Devil’s Island, a notorious French prison. Steve McQueen plays “the butterfly” whose determination to escape from his life sentence consumes him completely. After saving the life of Dega (Hoffman), a notorious counterfitter, Dega assists Papillon with his attempts at freedom.

LaserDisc Picture:
The 2.50:1 LaserDisc is extremely hazy in scenes, with images that are wanting in sharpness and detail. Other times, images appear generally sharp, but lack fine detail throughout. Fleshtones are brownish, colors are inconsistent throughout, and the picture is poorly contrasted. Shadow delineation is wanting in better visual information in the dark scenes. Minor noise is apparent, but there are no distracting artifacts.

LaserDisc Soundtrack:
While dated sounding, often the matrix Dolby® Digital soundtrack is quite effective in spatial envelopment though the sound is compressed and distorted. Hiss is quite noticeable, especially during scenes in the prison’s interior. Surround envelopment is at times aggressive, but deep bass is wanting in more dynamic impact.
(Surround Bass Below 50Hz): No
(Aggressive System Surround): Yes
(Intense 25Hz Bass): No
(Deep Bass Challenging): No
(Aggressive 0.1 LFE):
(Holosonic Soundfield): No
(Aggressive Split Surround): No
(Center Back Surround Imaging): No
(Directionalized Dialogue): No
Superb Sound Effects Recording Quality:
Superb Music Score Recording Quality:
Superb Special Visual Effects Quality:
Superb Color Fidelity:
Superb Cinematography:
Reference LaserDisc:
Collector Edition:
DVD To LaserDisc Comparison: