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D-Day: Normandy 1944 (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Shout! Factory will make their first foray into feature films on the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray format later this month when Michael Cimino’s best picture winner The Deer Hunter arrives on May 26th. But, they’ve actually been putting out 4K Ultra-HD Blu-rays for a couple of years now, courtesy of these IMAX documentaries. And they’ve actually proven quite stunning in sight and sound. The latest addition is D-Day: Normandy 1944. Pascal Vuong directs a Tom Brokow narrated documentary that gives a nice fresh and unique take on the battle of Normandy during World War II. This release will feature a good host of bonus feature interviews and behind the scenes videos to accompany it after you’ve finished the film. The film dropped onto the format on May 5th. You can order the film by using the Amazon Associates link that follows the review.

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Film

June 6, 1944: The largest Allied operation of World War II began in Normandy, France. Yet few know in detail exactly why and how, from the end of 1943 through August 1944, this region became the most important location in the world. Blending multiple cinematographic techniques, D-Day: Normandy 1944 brought this monumental even to the world’s largest screens for the first time.

Audiences of all ages will discover from a new perspective how this landing changed the world. Exploring history, military strategy, science, technology and the enduring human spirit, the film will educate and appeal to all. Narrated by Tom Brokow, D-Day: Normandy 1944 pays tribute to those who gave their lives for our liberty…a duty of memory, a duty of gratitude.

This new IMAX documentary on Normandy provides quite an interesting and informative look back at Normandy during World War II. The film has a nice way of being introductory, easy going, while also finding itself getting pretty in depth on the topic. Some of these IMAX films are pretty surface level, fluff, “Hey look at our pretty visuals on our topic” kind of fare (And there is nothing wrong with that). We actually get battle strategies and such laid out here.

Said layouts are done with some really good animations, graphs and the like. The animation is fresh as well as some restored photos, footage and new reenactments. Its all quite impressive and seamlessly blended together and never feels phony, cheap or like its trying to hard. This is a great picture being painted with a pretty thorough and easily welcoming narrative as spoken by Brokaw.

Truly one of the more impressive and better additions to the IMAX documentaries is D-Day: Normandy 1944. They have really pushed every angle and it has plenty of rewatch and educational value to it. Its a nice addition to documented history and education and a nice key for younger audiences to have to the past.

Video

Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are taken from the standard Blu-ray disc, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Can I just write DEMO and be done with my review here? This sucker is vibrant and full of clarity and detail that just lifts right off the screen. Color saturation is outstanding and details are quite clear as day. The restored photos have so much texture and information in them as well. One of the best parts is the animations throughout this be it for graphing purposes, battle scenes or just showing something. There are some sand things that just wow as well. Nothing looks cheapened or tacky with the 4K presentation, its all high marks and high class.

Depth: I’m pretty sure this was released in 3D considering the term is bandied about in press releases and on the credits. And the film has some great depth and dimension work. Things look spacey and quite pushed back. Its very impressive. Movements are smooth, fluid and crisp with no motion distortions.

Black Levels:  Blacks are natural and find good saturation. Details on darker surfaces, hair or clothing still keeps patterns and textures. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are striking and an absolutely all star of this image. They burst off the screen with beautiful reds, blues, green and more. There are some of the animated visuals that really take advantage of the HDR for a nice glow that actually adds a bit of dimension to the depth as well.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are natural and consistent start to finish. Facial details and textures are like looking through a window. Primary focus on this is reflective of the newly shot material, but even the older stuff looks great.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.

Audio

Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English

Dynamics: No Atmos? No DTS:X? No 7.1? In a rare case, NO PROBLEM. This is the highest and best a 5.1 mix can produce and you’re going to forget what’s not there immediately. This is a well balanced, layered and intricately designed and effective surround experience. Its loud and engaging as all hell. Within seconds, I didn’t care that it wasn’t Atmos or equivalent. Check it out for yourself, as it really is THAT good for a 5.1.

Height: N/A

Low-Frequency Extension: Engines, explosions, gunshots and more loud impactful sounds get a nice BOOM from the subwoofer to shake, rock and rumble for your pleasure.

Surround Sound Presentation: Stuff flies, explodes and blasts from all over. Travel is excellent and set for an extreme impact. Your rear channels get great work and really push and strive to be a part of this film.

Dialogue Reproduction: Brokaw is loud, clear and crisp with great depth and inflection heard in his vocals. He’s set a bit higher than some of the others which are played with to varying degrees of necessary effects with volume levels.

Extras

D-Day: Normandy 1944 comes with the standard Blu-ray edition. Just an upfront about the video on this 4K disc, the people interviewed appear very red in their interview footage.

Interview With Director Pascal Vuong (HD, 6:40) – The director answers some on-screen prompted questions regarding what drew him to D-Day and general thoughts about the film.

Interview With Narrator Tom Brokow (HD, 2:24) – Brokow talks about his draw to D-Day and the film as footage of his recording session plays. He hopes this film provides a new way for the younger generation to understand it. The interview is audio only.

Interview With Historical Advisor Peter Herrly (HD, 3:51) – Herrly discusses who he is, how he got started, what he does and how his film contributions came along.

Behind The Scenes: Normandy (HD, 4:05) – Raw footage of the shoot, on the beaches and more, sometimes with interviews/comments from people as its happening. In French, with English subtitles.

Behind The Scenes: Sand Animation (HD, 2:29) – One of the animators simply shows us how she produced the animation for the sand start to finish. In French with English subtitles.

Behind The Scenes: Music (HD, 5:46) – The composer of the film gives us where he came from, but how he molded the score for the film. He speaks French, but is overdubbed in English.

D-Day 1944 Promo (HD, 3:37) – A brief overview from NBCNEWS.COM.

D-Day 1944 Trailer (HD, 1:36)

Normandy Today (HD, 23:13) – This appears to be some VHS sources video that is just looks at modern Normandy (from whatever time it was shot).

The D-Day Museum (HD, 4:37) – A promo video about the D-Day museum found in New Orleans. It is also apparently VHS sourced and the coloring it bleeds and is pretty overbearingly red during the footage of the man interviewed for it.

Summary

D-Day: Normandy 1944 provides a nice angle and telling of that particular segment of World War II while also providing some beautiful visuals and animated storytelling to accompany it. Though, rather brief and only sporting a 5.1, this disc is still quite the demo material for a 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray system. It also has a really nice handful of, albeit brief, extras. Unlike some of the other IMAX releases, this goes beyond the prettiness and is actually a nice collectible for History buffs and collectors.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a 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. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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