From Here to Eternity appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Overall, the picture seemed watchable and occasionally quite good, but a mix of concerns rendered a fair amount of problems.
Sharpness usually appeared reasonably solid. At times the image became slightly soft and fuzzy, but this occurred infrequently. As a whole, the picture looked well defined and accurate. No moiré effects or jagged edges caused issues, but I did see a little edge enhancement at times.
Black levels mainly came across as fairly deep and dense, but contrast could appear a little weak. Some interiors seemed to be too brightly lit, and nighttime exteriors occasionally looked too dense. Shadow detail normally appeared pretty clear and acceptably visible, however, as I thought the low-light scenes were nicely balanced for the most part.
Where Eternity encountered the most problems related to print flaws. At times, the image looked fairly clean, but during most of the film I witnessed a mix of concerns. Somewhat excessive grain showed up throughout the movie, and a mix of blotches, grit, marks and nicks also marred the presentation. White speckles made up the most significant defect, as they popped up all over the place. Some scenes lacked them, but they still made themselves known a lot of the time. Lose the print flaws and Eternity gets into “B” territory, but as it stands, the DVD earned nothing better than a “C-“.
If you examine my review of the original DVD release of Eternity, you’ll note that I offered virtually identical comments about its picture. If the Superbit edition improved on the old one, I couldn’t see it. Unless the movie received a major restoration and a new transfer, it couldn’t. Most of the problems I encountered on the first release came from source flaws, so the simple increase in bit rate found on the Superbit title wouldn’t change that.
While image quality seemed identical, the Superbit From Here to Eternity did offer an alternate auditory experience, which I’ll soon examine. First I’ll discuss the film’s original monaural soundtrack, which appeared on both DVDs. Given the age of the material, it sounded quite good. Some of the dialogue was poorly looped – especially the beach shots, which seemed very artificial – but the speech usually appeared reasonably warm and distinct, and I detected no problems related to intelligibility or edginess. Effects showed thinness typical of the era, but they remained acceptably clean and accurate, and the explosions even offered a modest boom; I won’t say that my subwoofer got a workout, but the low-end material seemed more than adequate for a film of this era. Music displayed good clarity and depth as well. A slight hum appeared on a couple of occasions, but overall the mix lacked source defects. Overall, this was a good representation of an older monaural soundtrack.
In addition to this mix, the Superbit version packed a DTS 5.1 remix that seemed like something of a mixed blessing. On the positive side, this new track definitely opened up the soundfield. During quieter scenes, I heard gentle ambience as well as the occasional example of audio from the sides. For example, speech might come from the left speaker, or the closing of a cabinet might pop up from the right.
Louder scenes provided expanded material, and they came to life fairly well. Of course, the Japanese attack at the end offered the most active sequence, and the battle demonstrated pretty good localization and blending. Elements moved across the spectrum well and meshed together surprisingly smoothly. Scenes like those in bars and clubs also benefited from the broadened soundfield, as they presented a decent sense of atmosphere. The beach shots featured the most noticeable examples of split surround usage, as the waves crashed behind us. Like some other segments, those elements sounded somewhat unnatural at times, but usually the track came across as acceptably well integrated. The mix’s producers didn’t go crazy with effects placement, so the soundfield seemed positive for the most part.
The DTS mix lost some points when it came to audio reproduction, however. Some elements displayed a bit too much reverb, a concern that seemed especially noticeable during dialogue shots. The speech didn’t come across as terribly hollow and thin – I’ve definitely heard much worse from remixes – but it lacked the warmth heard during the mono track. Effects and music also seemed a little more shrill and harsh, though they remained more than adequate. In addition, the DTS version suffered from elevated noise levels that didn’t appear during the mono edition.
In the end, the two soundtracks heard on this DVD both earned “B-“ ratings, though for different reasons. The DTS mix presented a nicely engaging soundfield but offered weaker audio quality. The mono track lacked the expansive and involving spread but it boasted stronger sound as a whole. Both seem good, so whichever one you choose will depend on your personal preferences.
While the original 2001 DVD of From Here to Eternity included some extras, the Superbit edition features none. On the surface, this seems like a big loss, but in reality, the supplements on the old disc weren’t terribly good. Mostly it offered a mediocre audio commentary and some weak featurettes. While they expanded my knowledge of the film, they didn’t include a great deal of useful information, so their loss goes unmourned by me.
Does that mean you should skip the old DVD of From Here to Eternity and get the Superbit? No, I didn’t say that. I liked the film and recommend it, but I’d still advise the purchase of the original disc. I found the two to present virtually identical picture quality, and the Superbit edition loses the extras; while I found them to be erratic, something remains better than nothing.
The only major change for the Superbit edition comes from the inclusion of a new DTS 5.1 remix. I thought that track worked well given the source limitations, but it seemed too inconsistent for me to recommend it over the original mono mix. Some may prefer it, and for them, the Superbit release of From Here to Eternity might merit a purchase. As for me, I like the mono track, and recommend the original disc over the Superbit version. It sells for a little less money and seems like the superior product, at least as long as you don’t care about the DTS soundtrack.
To rate this film visit the original review