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Arch Of Triumph (Blu-ray Review)

Arch-Of-TriumphOlive Films newest rescue, Arch Of Triumph, is a 1948 film that comes as an adaptation from a book with the same name.  The film’s original script featured much more ruthless violence, but the MPAA had all this stuff removed before the script was even to be shot.  And originally it didn’t include a love story either, but that was added to make it have more commercial appear (leading to the original writer to call it quits).   This aspect landed them a superstar in actress Ingrid Bergman.  Arch Of Triumph wound up being remade or re-adapted in 1985.  This time it was a BBC TV movie that had legendary Anthony Hopkins in the lead role.

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Film 

Arch Of Triumph takes place in Paris, where it has become flooded with refugees trying to avoid being deported back to Nazi Germany.  Dr. Ravic is one of them.  He is doing illegal underground medical practice for other refugees.  Ravic becomes involved with a woman whom he saves from suicide.  Ravic learns that he is to be deported, but first once to get revenge on a Nazi officer responsible for torturing he and his wife, which eventually led to his wife’s death.

In my research on the history of the film, I found that the original cut was 4 hours long.  Woof!  At 2 hours, this film already feels too long.  There is a lot of pacing around and conversations that seem to repeat things we felt were properly discussed in prior scenes.  This is by no means a terrible film, but I would have been flat out devastated to have to have sat through this story for 4 hours.  At 2 hours this thing needed to be a bit tighter.  It has a compelling story to tell, they just seem to stretch out said story.

I found the film to be full of that noir style I love.  There’s a great use of lighting and shadow throughout the film.  And the characters good and bad seem to all carry a certain darkness in them from the shadows.  One thing that wasn’t too great in the film was the dialogue.  Most of it was dominated with corny, route things to say.  Littered with a bunch of metaphors and lines that feel like poor poetry, this film has scenes that will make you go “ugh” when you hear some of the dialogue.

If you’re into film noir or classic films of this WWII era, this should be a solid venture.  If not, steer clear as you’re going to be turned off real quick.  I thought the film was merely okay, but found myself checking my watch and itching to grab my iPhone during many long played out sequences.  There’s great stuff here, but it tends to be watered down with overdone scenes and repetitive conversation.

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:37.1

Clarity/Detail: This is a rather average image.  Its another “hands off” transfer from Olive Films, but this didn’t seem to fair too well.  The image is rather soft and very light in its detail.  This is the best I’m sure this film has ever looked, but it feels like father time has prevented a basic transfer from shining.

Depth: This is a rather flat and basic image.  The feature doesn’t lend itself to much impressive depth.

Black Levels: Blacks appear a tad faded due to the nature of the print.  The black is also excessive and does seem to mask a lot of the picture during night and dark room scenes.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: N/A

Noise/Artifacts: This transfer features constant grain, scratches, specs, streaks and dirt.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: N/A

Dynamics: There is a very audible analog hiss throughout the feature as can be common with a film this old.  It can distort at some intervals, but not a problem throughout.  Aside from that this is a pretty clean average, unimpressive track that really just does what it needs to.

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue sounds pretty dated and can wander around with pitches and volume a bit due to the source’s condition.  There are also a few peak moments and S’s “hissing”.

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Extras 

Just as many extras as there are Miami Heat fans now that LeBron has left.

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Summary 

Olive Films brings Arch Of Triumph to Blu-ray in a rather pedestrian presentation featuring no extras.  The movie I found to be merely “ok”, so having some documentaries on the film and life in Paris during this time would have easily enhanced this release.  As it stands, this is merely a niche piece for collectors.  It’s the best this film is probably ever going to see.  So, Ingrid Bergman collector’s, here’s another one for the collection!

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Writer/Reviewer, lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash, Brandon hosts the Cult Cinema Cavalcade podcast on the Creative Zombie Studios Network (www.cultcinemacavalcade.com) You can also find more essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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