Saving Private Ryan 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 228, June 2018

WSR Score5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Paramount Home Entertainment
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Intense prolonged realistically graphic sequences of war violence, and for language
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-66)
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Steven Spielberg
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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(French Language):
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The winner of five Academy Awards® and internationally acclaimed by critics and audiences alike, "Saving Private Ryan" offers us a glimpse into the realities faced by American soldiers during World War II. The story is told as it is seen through the eyes of a squadron of GIs, who, after enduring the horrific D-Day invasion, were then called upon to perform a dangerous special mission. Captain John Miller (Hanks) must take his men behind enemy lines to find and return Private James Ryan (Damon) to the United States after his three brothers had all been killed in combat. Captain Miller's men find themselves initially questioning their orders—why risk the lives of eight men to save only one? The accurate depiction of the brutalities of war may be unsettling, but if you can endure the troublesome images and allow yourself to hear the message of the movie, you will almost certainly gain a greater understanding of the tremendous sacrifices that so many young men and women have made for our country and appreciate their courage. (Laurie Sevano)

Special features include "An Introduction" (SD 02:35), "Looking Into The Past" (SD 04:40), "Miller And His Platoon" (SD 08:23), "Boot Camp" (SD 07;37), "Making Saving Private Ryan" (SD 22:05), "Re-Creating Omaha Beach" (SD 17:58), "Music And Sound" (SD 15:59), "Parting Thoughts" (SD 03:43), and "Into The Breach: Saving Private Ryan" (SD 25:01); the documentary "Shooting War" (01;28:05); the theatrical trailer; and an UltraViolet digital copy.

The 1.85:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10 picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed on 35mm Kodak film stock using Aaton 35-III, Moviecam SL, Panavision Panaflex Platinum and Panavision Panastar cameras in the Academy Standard Flat format and sourced from a 2K (not 4K) master Digital Intermediate format. As the 2K Digital Intermediate has been upconverted to 2160p, there is no real gain in native resolution. Previously reviewed as a Blu-ray Disc (Issue 149 July/August/September 2010) and a DVD in Issue 35, the imagery on this 4K Ultra HD edition is treated to further refinement in terms of definition, clarity, contrast and color accuracy. The stylized picture is harshly contrasted imagery but is a superb transfer of Janusz Kaminski's Academy Award®-winning cinematography. The desaturated colors and contrasted imagery is intentional and closely resembles the theatrical presentation, without a significant push in brightness. To create this appearance as it was seen in the theatres, Kaminski and Director Steven Spielberg chose to strip the lenses of their protective coating, flash the film stock, and desaturate the colors with the ENR bleaching process. Shadow delineation is nicely rendered, as seen when Captain Miller and his men try to rest in a church lit only by a few candles. The visual experience is intensely emotional, and everyone should understand that the emotion is created by the deglamorized appearance of Spielberg's vision. Still, the 4K Ultra HD HDR and Wide Color Gamut treatment nicely brightens the image without sacrificing its gritty, desaturated intent. Whites are much brighter, and colors are a little less muted, for a more realistic saturation, such as the natural greenery seen as Miller and his men seek out Ryan in the French countryside. This impeccable rendering is even more impressively and complexly detailed in this 4K Ultra HD edition in terms of war-weathered facial features, including pores and hair, layered skin grime and sweat and blood, and object textures; especially visible on soldiers' helmets, the sand particles on the Normandy beach, and the war-torn stone façades of Ramelle depicting bullet holes, broken concrete, and debris. Dimensionality is excellent as well, conveying an impressive sense of depth. The tonal rendering emphasizes desaturated beiges, grays, browns, and greens—hues integral to the grimy visual style. There are moments of brightness and color, which is a relief to the otherwise bleak visuals. The picture is very cinematic, with an effective grain structure that enhances the raw and gritty visual style. In sum, HDR has been carefully applied to give the image a refined brighter, more vibrant sheen without sacrificing the movie's core color integrity. WOW! segments include from 04:30 to 09:18, 41:24 to 42:10, 51:01 to 52:40, 01:00:16 to 01:03:32, 02:08:36 to 02:14:30, and 02:32:34 to 02:34:48. This is a strikingly faithful and reference presentation that will impress enthusiasts of filmmaking in its impressive rendering of "this God-awful shitty mess." (Gary Reber)

The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is a remix specifically for the home theatre environment. As with the previously reviewed lossless DTS-HD Master Audio™, this new rendering projects an even more realistic sense of immediacy and exceptionally conveys the dimensionality, depth, and impact of the intended sound mix. The sound is incredibly coherent, with a seamlessly integrated holosonic® soundfield at ear-level that projects pinpoint delineation and realistic sidewall and center back surround phantom imaging. Interchannel detail is articulate, for overall clarity. This soundtrack is a powerhouse of intensity. For over 24 minutes continuously the sound delivers one of the most dramatic and full-scale SPL holosonic soundfield experiences of any motion picture soundtrack yet produced. Few other soundtracks to date have delivered such a dimensionally spatial sound sculpture with such breathtaking and intensely emotional impact. The sound breathes life into the stunning imagery, in this case, sadly, war depicted in intimate combat at Omaha Beach. Bullets whiz by in all directions, explosives impact throughout the soundfield, machine gunfire emanates from the split surrounds and you feel the deeply powerful bass, intensified by the full scale .1 LFE channel at below 25 Hz. Even the surround channels are driven full-scale SPL at below 25 Hz. This is a soundtrack that is capable of damaging audio systems not capable of intense full-scale 25 Hz bass. It is a soundtrack that demands full-range loudspeaker capability in all channels! No single subwoofer directed by bass management can project the bass-energized holosonic imaging this soundtrack creates. You are immersed in the holosonic soundfield for what seems endless. Even shots underwater are felt and heard with a realism that is breathtaking. The John Williams' music score, recorded and mixed by Shawn Murphy, is sweeping and dynamic, with a deep soundstage and an expansive presence that extends well into the surrounds. The lossless Dolby TrueHD encoding reveals impressive subtle harmonic textures and distinctive directionalized soundfield energy. The sound perspective shifts perfectly in accord with the picture angles, for effective localization. Low-frequency effects are natural sounding, yet at times, extremely powerful. Dialogue, however, is disappointing because it is almost entirely ADR-produced and is wanting in natural spatial integration. But then this is a challenging feat, considering that the dialogue takes place largely on battlefields, open countrysides, and shelled towns. In scenes with pounding rain, the sound is enveloping and able to create chills. And what wonderful extended dimension is created by the back center phantom channel! Listen for the center back fly-overs by the P-51s. The sound is exhilarating. There are instances when dialogue emanates from a surround channel amidst aggressive soundfield envelopment that is very effective.

The Immersive Sound element is effectively spherical dimensional, but pretty much an extension of the ear-level sonics, sans the dialogue. These elements include the orchestral score, waves on the Omaha Beach, pounding waters against platoon boats, whizzing bullets and machine gun fire and explosions throughout, as well as underwater disturbances, vehicle sounds, pouring rain, birds chirping, tank movements and airplanes and rocket fire.

This is a seriously engaging film from the start with the soundfield transforming into the bloody beach with the home theatre impacted by explosions, gunfire, and chaos, and the distant and immediate cries for ammo, shouted orders, screams for medics, and other chaotic calls as the soldiers maneuver their way through the deadly labyrinth of war
There is so much to celebrate with this sound design. This spatially dynamic soundfield experience ranks among the greatest soundtracks of all time. The richly spatial holosonic soundfield is what "Widescreen Review" has always advocated and enthusiastically applauds here, effectively enveloping the listener with sonic dimension and realism. This remains one of the rare "you are there" presentations. (Gary Reber)