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Category:    Home > Reviews > Documentary > Large Frame Format > Time > Civilization > Chronos (1985/IMAX/Blu-ray)

Chronos (1985/IMAX/Blu-ray/R&B Films/Koch)


Picture: B+     Sound: B     Extras: C     Film: B-



After a good wait, Ron Fricke’s Chronos (1985) is now out in the Blu-ray format months after arriving in a mixed, out-of-print HD-DVD version.  The number one reason for and excitement is the curiosity about how much better the film would look.  While the HD-DVD has a problematic 1080i HD transfer, the Blu-ray is here in 1080p, which is especially important for a large frame format production given all of its extra detail and depth that even the best HD cannot fully capture.


Everything else, including the soundtracks for the most part and extras, are the same and you can read about that in our HD-DVD review at this link:





And you can also read about the amazing Blu-ray for Fricke’s Baraka with its first-time-ever 8K Digital; progressive scan HD transfer master at this link:





Now to the Blu-ray picture.  The 1080p 1.78 X 1 MPEG-2 @ 25.5 MBPS digital High Definition image is from a source newer than that of the HD-DVD and/or Blu-ray editions of large frame format releases like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Grand Prix, the 1962 Mutiny On The Bounty, How The West Was Won, Patton, The Searchers and Spartacus.  Prix and 2001 are still the best optical disc image I have ever seen and those are filmed in 65mm negative from 1968 and 1966 respectively.  I was hoping this disc would equal that, but it does not, though it has its moments and is superior to the now out-of-print HD-DVD release.  The film was shot in the 8-perf 70mm IWERKS 870 large-frame format and has some fine demo moments.


Though not as rich and colorful as even The Searchers, this is still a fine example of what a large frame format can deliver.  The detail and depth you can see here that was missing in the HD-DVD is much more like what Fricke shot with a naturalistic depth and three-dimensional look that just is without trying so hard like you would find in digital effects.  Except for some minor print problems and some more grain that I would have liked that can hold the overall quality back, I really liked what I saw and it will give anyone who has already seen the film a new respect for it.


It also will make one wonder why more large frame format productions are not in the works with HDTV here.  Shooting in HD is adequate, but is no match for film shot well and certainly not the large frame formats.  Versus those previous four large frame releases, this one comes out in the middle.  It cannot match Grand Prix or 2001, but just edges out the 1962 Mutiny On The Bounty in minute ways (still the same latter grade) and outdoes Spartacus which Universal tried to put on a single HD-DVD.  I may have underrated the transfer a bit from the first time I looked at it.


That also makes the image a nicer match for DTS HD Master Audio lossless 96/24 5.1 soundmix (best representing the IMAX 6-Track sound recording for the film), though that term should have only been reserved for 192/24 mixes (a DTS 96/24 had already been around for a while), anything above 16 Bits qualifies for us.  The Dolby is a lower 448 48/24 5.1 mix which has noticeably less detail and the PCM track has been dropped.  That extra room likely helps the picture and sound overall.   Though not as amazing as Baraka on Blu-ray, Chronos remains an impressive, unique film that holds up well after several years of Blu-ray production, making it a great companion for those serious about film and Blu-ray.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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