On Golden Pond appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Pond came with a watchable but not great presentation.
For the most part, sharpness seemed positive. Wider shots tended to be a bit soft, but those didn’t turn into a major concern. While the image lacked great precision, it appeared adequate to good in that regard. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I noticed no edge haloes. In terms of print flaws, I saw sporadic specks and marks; they didn’t become heavy, but they popped up on occasion.
Pond went with a fairly amber palette to fit the rustic setting. Colors appeared acceptably full; they could’ve been more dynamic but they remained reasonably positive. Blacks were a little inky, and shadows could be a bit dense. In the end, this came across as a “C+“ presentation; it lacked many strengths but it looked adequate.
Similar thoughts greeted the acceptable DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of Pond. Speech became the dominant element in this chatty flick, and the lines seemed fine. They could be a little reedy but they remained fairly natural and always displayed good intelligibility.
Music and effects played a small role. We didn’t get a ton of score, and the character orientation of the story left little room for anything other than basic effects. Both of these elements came across as reasonably well-developed; they lacked much range but they seemed clean and clear. This was a perfectly suitable track for a low-key movie from 1981.
A few extras flesh out the disc, and we begin with an audio commentary from director Mark Rydell. In this running, screen-specific chat, we learn about the source material and its adaptation, characters, story and themes, cast and performances, camerawork and music, sets and locations, and anecdotes from the shoot.
Recorded in the mid-1990s, Rydell offers a mostly good track. On the negative side, his occasional complaints about modern movies get a little tiresome, as he bemoans how films are all "special effects and car crashes", which people also claimed in 1980. Otherwise, Rydell delivers an interesting set of notes, especially in terms of relationships among the actors. Even with some slow spots, the commentary succeeds.
Two featurettes follow. Reflections on Golden Pond lasts 30 minutes, three seconds and includes notes from Rydell, director of photography Billy Williams, script supervisor Marshall Schlom,The New Biographical Dictionary of Film author David Thomson, writer Ernest Thompson, and a few others. (In an annoying choice, “Reflections” fails to credit any of the participants; I was able to name the folks listed above due to their appearances elsewhere on the disc.) “Reflections” looks at cinematography, the source play and its adaptation, cast and performances, sets and locations, and related topics.
Though “Reflections” does touch on a mix of subjects, photography and Williams’ work becomes the primary focus. That’s an interesting viewpoint, as this turns into a much more detailed than usual take on cinematography. Despite the annoyance that comes with the refusal to credit speakers, we get good information here.
In addition to a trailer, A Woman of Substance fills 15 minutes, 53 seconds and offers info from Billy Williams, Ernest Thompson, Mark Rydell, Marshall Schlom, David Thomson, Lion In Winter director Anthony Harvey, film critic Richard Schickel, and A Bill of Divorcement director George Cukor. The show takes a look at the life and career of Katharine Hepburn. 16 minutes or so is way too little for a comprehensive view of this subject, but “Substance” delivers a decent mix of thoughts.
With an abundance of talent involved, I hoped On Golden Pond would deliver a memorable experience. Unfortunately, it turns into a clumsy, stiff effort without much real emotion or realism involved. The Blu-ray provides average picture and audio along with a small but informative collection of supplements. Pond doesn’t hold up well after more than 30 years.