WSR Detailed LaserDisc Review

Saving Private Ryan

Reviewed In Issue 33 Of Widescreen Review® Stars:
Tom Hanks, Edward Burns, Tom Sizemore, Jeremy Davies, Vin Diesel, Adam Goldberg, Barry Pepper, Giovanni Ribisi, Matt Damon, Dennis Farina, Ted Danson , Harve Presnell

WSR Review Scores
Picture Rating: 4.5
Sound Rating: 5+
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Reference Systems
Critics' Composite Score:
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DVD General Information
(Studio/Distributor): DreamWorks Home Entertainment
(Catalog Number): ID5916DW
(MPAA Rating): R
(Retail Price): $39.99
(Running Time In Minutes): 169
(Color Type): Color
(Chaptered/Scene Access): Yes
(Closed Captioned): Yes
(Theatrical Release): 1998
(LD Release Date): 06/99
(THX® Digitally Mastered): Yes

Credits Information
(Director): Steven Spielberg
(Screenplay/Written By): Robert Rodat
(Story): NA
(Music): John Williams (Music)
(Director Of Photography):
(Production Designer): Tom Sanders (Production Designer)
(Visual Effects):
(Costume Designer):
(Editor): Michael Kahn, ACE (Editor)
(Supervising Sound Editors):
(Re-Recording Mixers):
(Executive Producers): NA
(Co-Producers): Bonnie Curtis & Allison Lyon Segan
(Producers): Steven Spielberg, Ian Bryce, Mark Gordon & Gary Levinsohn

DVD Picture Information
(Principal Photography): Academy Standard Flat
(Theatrical Aspect Ratio): 1.85:1
(Measured LaserDisc Aspect Ratio): 1.82:1

DVD Sound Information
(DVD Soundtrack): Dolby Digital Surround
(Theatrical Sound): DTS, SDDS & Dolby Digital
(Theatrical Re-Issue Soundtrack):
(Remastered Dolby Digital): No
(Remastered DTS Digital Surround): No
(Additional Languages):

WSR Narrative Review
Story Synopsis:
The winner of five Academy Awards® and internationally acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, Saving Private Ryan offers us a glimpse into the realities faced by American soldiers during World War II. The story is told as it is seen through the eyes of a squadron of GIs who, after enduring the horrific D-Day invasion, were then called upon to perform a dangerous special mission. Captain John Miller (Hanks) must take his men behind enemy lines to find and return Private James Ryan (Damon) to the United States after his three brothers have all been killed in combat. Captain Miller’s men find themselves initially questioning their orders—why risk the lives of eight men to save only one? The accurate depiction of the brutalities of war may be unsettling, but if you can endure the troublesome images and allow yourself to hear the message of Saving Private Ryan, you will almost certainly gain a greater understanding of the tremendous sacrifices that so many young men and women have made for our country and appreciate their courage.

LaserDisc Picture:
The 1.82:1 LaserDisc exhibits picture quality that is stylized with harshly contrasted imagery, but is a superb transfer of Janusz Kaminski’s Academy Award®-winning cinematography. Contrary to what some may call “excellent picture quality,” we assure that the imagery is absolutely intentional and closely resembles the theatrical presentation. The stylized, washed-out colors provide an appearance similar to that of World War documentaries. To create this appearance, as it was seen in the theatres, Kaminski and Steven Spielberg chose to strip the lenses of their protective coating, flash the film stock and desaturate the colors with the ENR bleaching process. Images are sharp and detailed, though minor noise is apparent throughout. Shadow delineation is nicely rendered, as seen in chapter 10, when Captain Miller and his men try to rest in church lit only by a few candles. The visual experience is intensely emotional, and everyone should understand that the emotion is created by the deglamorized appearance of Spielberg’s vision.

LaserDisc Soundtrack:
For over 24 minutes, you will continuously experience the most dramatic and full scale SPL holosonic soundfield of any motion picture soundtrack yet to be produced. This is a breathtaking sonic experience that is exemplary of the 5.1 discrete palette. No other soundtrack to date has delivered such a dimensionally spatial sound sculpture. The sound breathes life into the stunning imagery—in this case, gravely war-depicted—in intimate combat on the Omaha Beach in France (filmed in Ireland). Bullets whiz by in all directions; explosives impact throughout the soundfield; machine gunfire emanates from the split surrounds; and you feel the deeply powerful bass, intensified by the full scale .1 LFE at below 25Hz. Even the surround channels are driven full scale SPL at below 25Hz. This is a soundtrack that is competent of damaging audio systems not capable of intense full scale 25Hz bass. You are immersed in the holosonic soundfield for what seems to be endless. Even shots underwater are felt and heard with an incredible realism. The John Williams music score, recorded and mixed by Shawn Murphy, is sweeping and dynamic with a deep soundstage and an expansive presence that extends well into the surrounds. While the matrix PCM soundtrack is exemplary, the discrete Dolby® Digital rendering is so dramatically more holosonic with distinctive directionalized soundfield energy. The aggressive sound design is present throughout the entire film, delivering effective split surround delineation. The sound perspective shifts perfectly in accordance with the picture angles for effective localization. Low frequency effects are natural sounding yet, at times, extremely powerful. Dialogue is almost entirely ADR-produced and is wanting in natural spatial integration. But then this is a challenging feat considering that the dialogue takes place largely on battlefields, open countrysides and shelled towns. In scenes with pounding rain, the discrete version is so much more enveloping will most certainly create chills. The countryside ambience also sounds incredibly real. And what wonderful extended dimension is created by the back center phantom channel! Listen for the center back fly-overs by the P-51s. The sound is exhilarating. There are instances when dialogue emanates from a surround channel amidst aggressive soundfield envelopment that is very effective. There is so much to celebrate with this sound design. Every filmmaker and student of the art of sound design has been given a powerful lesson in creating filmmaking realism. The influence this sound design will have on future filmmakers is sure to cause celebration. This spatially dynamic soundfield experience ranks among the greatest soundtracks of all time. The richly spatial holosonic soundfield is what we have always advocated and enthusiastically applaud here. And a special thanks to Supervising Sound Editor, Richard Hymns and Re-recording Mixers Gary Rydstrom, Gary Summers and Andy Nelson, and the entire sound crew, for their outstanding creation of this exemplary work.
(Surround Bass Below 50Hz): Yes
(Aggressive System Surround): Yes
(Intense 25Hz Bass): Yes
(Deep Bass Challenging): Yes
(Aggressive 0.1 LFE):
(Holosonic Soundfield): Yes
(Aggressive Split Surround): Yes
(Center Back Surround Imaging): Yes
(Directionalized Dialogue): Yes
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: