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September 12, 2011
Soldier Blue Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
27/7/2011UniversalRalph Nelson
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0MCandice Bergen

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Peter Strauss is solid in Soldier Blue.

Released for only $AU15 in Australia on Blu-Ray this is a movie we hadn't heard of, but it's probably one worth picking up as it tells the story of a couple whose lives are thrown together before witnessing one of the worst atrocities in American history, the Sand Creek massacre.

After a cavalry group is massacred by the Cheyenne, only two survivors remain: Honus, a naive private devoted to his duty, and Cresta, a young woman who had lived with the Cheyenne for two years. Together, they must try to reach the cavalry's main base camp. As they travel onward, Honus is torn between his growing affection for Cresta, and his disgust for her anti-American beliefs. They reach the cavalry campsite on the eve of an attack on a Cheyenne village, where Honus will learn which side has really been telling him the truth...

For the most part this film is a story between two people the fall in love before a climactic battle sequence which depicts a real-life massacre. Headlining this movie is a very young Candice Bergen (who is now most well known for her roles in Murphy Brown and Boston Legal on TV) and who puts in a fine performance at the age of 23. Candice is joined by Peter Strauss as the uptight Honus Gent and he also puts in a decent peroformance as someone who follows duty and rules to the letter.

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Talking to the native Indians.
Released in 1970 this film received a lot of criticism due to the violence portrayed in the final battle whcih is based on the 1864 Sand Creek massacre in which, according to the film, around 500 Indians were killed. In reality that number is estimated between 70-163 with a large majority being women and children. Still, it's one of the worst crimes committed in American history. Today this film has an M rating in Australia, and the violence isn't overly graphic - primarily due to the near glowing red blood - however there are still some scenes with women having clothes torn off, being raped and mutilated, and some decapitations which we can imagine were unheard of in cinema over 40 years ago.

Fans of this film will also like to know that the Blu-Ray contains the longer 115 minute version of the film rather then the theatrical release in America which ran around 3 minutes shorter. We're not sure what is included in this longer version, perhaps some additional violence.

Soldier Blue is a film I had no prior knowledge of before receiging the disc, but it's a decent film which more importantly sheds some light on one of the worst atrocities in American history and for that reason alone I'm glad it's available on Blu-Ray.

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Soldier Blue looks decent on Blu-Ray.
First impressions of this films transfer to Blu-Ray weren't good. In fact I was severely concerned as, during the opening credits, there is some very wierd horizontal shimmering on the image. Fortunately as soon as the credits are over the image regains stability and for the most part this is a very impressive transfer of a film that couldn't really be called a "blockbuster" release.

Being released on a dual layer 50GB Blu-Ray disc, and with few soundtracks and a lack of extras this film has been given a generous video bitrate that often sits above 30Mbps according to our PS3. The film's conversion retains the theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the many exterior shots have a natural look to them with plenty of fine detail. While we can't compare directly we have no doubt this would be a significant improvement over the DVD release.

That's not saying the image is perfect - it's certainly not a disc you'd use as reference quality. There is occasional dirt to the image, although for a movie over 40 years old it's still remarkably clean overall, and in some shots such as the zoom in at about the 1:20:29 - 1:21:01 the colours don't remain consistent. This happens in several shots throughout the film while there is black crush evident in many scenes as well.

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Candice Bergen takes a lie down.
Overall though for a film over 40 years old, and not a major blockbuster at that, the image quality in this release exceeds what one would expect.

This disc includes a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track which retains the sonic feel from the films original mono soundtrack. Despite the lack of surround sound channels and LFE this soundtrack is decent enough with clear speech, some decent music and effects although it would have been nice to have some additional bass to the gunshots and explosions.

There are three other tracks on this disc, all encoded with DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. These are German, Spanish and Italian and the dubbing is a little questionable in quality, but not unexpected for such and old film.

Subtitles are provided in German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Danish however somewhat disappointingly there is no English subtitle track on this disc.

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Candice Bergen stars in Soldier Blue.
There are absolutely no extras on this Blu-Ray which given the history nature of the subject matter is a little disappointing.

Soldier Blue is an interesting release from Universal. It's a decent film that depicts one of the most harrowing events in America's history, but isn't a film that has a great list of stars, or is generally regarded as a classic. Still, it's nice to see a decent release given a decent transfer, but lacking extras. Fans will be impressed with the HD transfer.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Universal. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.