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How I Won the War
SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • Theatrical Trailer

How I Won the War

Burn-on-Demand
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Richard Lester
Starring: Michael Crawford, John Lennon
1967 | 111 Minutes

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: MGM Limited Edition Collection
Fox Home Entertainment

Release Date: March 20, 2011
Review Date: April 23, 2011

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SYNOPSIS

John Lennon stars in his first film performance in this hilariously surreal collage of battle footage and one-liners lampooning the absurdity of the war. Michael Crawford also stars.


PICTURE

Through MGM/Foxís burn-on-demand line, the MGM Limited Edition Collection after getting a regular DVD release years ago, which is now out-of-print, we get Richard Lesterís 1967 film How I Won the War on a single-layer DVD-R disc. The film is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.66:1 and has been enhanced for widescreen televisions.

Though I would assume the same transfer used for the original DVD would be used here this is my first burn-on-demand disc, previously resisting the desire to buy any of the other ones offered by the various studios (as tempting as If Looks Could Kill from the Warner Bros. Archive is) and I was still unsure what to expect.

I was alternately surprised yet seriously let down at the same time. I was surprised primarily by the conditions of the source materials, which are in strong shape. There are still scratches and marks present, some of which appear to be caused by shooting conditions, and there is flickering and a couple of jumps but otherwise itís in decent condition.

The colour scheme is muted but saturation is good and some colours still manage to pop off of the screen, particularly blues and greens and some of the colours used for some tinted monochromatic sequences. Blacks come off a bit crushed but the picture is still easy enough to see during darker scenes.

In all it would be a strong image if it wasnít for the digital transfer itself, which is weak. Though the picture does remain sharp through most of the film there are still plenty of artifacts, the most distracting of which are edge halos and ringing. Theyíre particularly bad at the beginning of the film and then vary in levels of annoyance through the rest of it. Itís awful and absolutely distracting at its worst. The image can also look noisy and I blame it more on the fact the transfer isnít translating the filmís grain structure all that well.

In the end despite the decent condition of the materials the picture is ultimately ruined by an incredibly weak digital transfer.

5/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The 2-channel mono track is a bit of a disaster. Dialogue is easy to hear and understand but it does come off tinny and weak. Music sounds particularly bad, sounding harsh and edgy and at times Iíd swear it could make your ears bleed, specifically a sequence that plays the theme from Lawrence of Arabia, which is just an absolute mess. Horrid overall.

3/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Since this is from a burn-on-demand service I wasnít expecting any supplements but we do get a short 1-minute theatrical trailer for the film, which focuses more on the slapstick moments. Surprisingly the disc also comes with English subs. There are also no real chapter stops to speak of and instead when you click the chapter skip buttons on your remote you jump through the film in 10-minute intervals.

(As a note I should mention that for a short time a ďcommemorative bookletĒ with a special introductory letter by Yoko Ono is included with orders of the title. Unfortunately I canít say how long this booklet will be available or if it is even still available. I did not receive a copy of the booklet and cannot comment on it.)

1/10

CLOSING

Iím still not fond of the burn-on-demand model, though I guess we should at least be appreciative that we can still get some of these films in some way. Iím not particularly fond of this film admittedly, finding it more of an interesting failure, but I still have to say Iím a little sad itís been relegated to this type of release and am disappointed by its overall presentation.




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