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A Night to Remember DVD
Reviewed by
Andrew Proverbs
on
A Night to Remember DVD Review An iconic film has been restored and brought back to life, making good use of the Blu-ray format. It’s a very fitting release for the 100th year anniversary of the Titanic disaster.
Rating:
4.0

Feature 8.0
Video 8.0
Audio 7.5
Special Features 6.0
Total 8.0
Distributor: Roadshow
Running Time: 118 minutes
Reviewer: Andrew Proverbs
Classification: PG

8.5


A Night to Remember

On its opening in 1958, A night to remember was every bit the blockbuster, the Titanic 3D of its day. It differs from James Cameron’s character-driven opus in that it takes a more expansive view: showing us, one at a time, each and every person who is believed to have contributed to the ship’s fate, as well as anecdotal stories from various passengers and crew. It’s an honest and accurate dissection of what went wrong, but also a human drama, and full of touching moments.

There is a very large cast of ensemble characters, most of whom only receive a small amount of screen time. At various times we are introduced to a group of rowdy passengers from the lowly ‘steerage’ class, the ship’s captain, designer and 2nd officers, as well as the captains and crew of some of the other ships which were in Titanic’s vicinity at the time of her sinking. Because of this large cast, the movie can be difficult to follow at times. Thankfully it narrows its vision in the final act, settling on the character of 2nd officer Lightoller (Kenneth More) to tell the most harrowing part of the story.  

One of the most poignant scenes in the movie comes when a group of bedraggled steerage passengers, having been denied access to the lifeboats, finally break through and stand in the deserted first-class dining room. A night to remember has a strong moral point to make, and it doesn’t shy away from difficult subject matter.

The final thought of the movie is that no one person was to blame for the disaster; arrogance was to blame. Arrogance gave the ship the title of ‘unsinkable,’ and ensured that she went to sea without the proper provision of lifeboats.  

Even today, the production values of A night to remember can stand up to scrutiny. Yes, the exterior scenes clearly show a toy boat bobbing on the water, and yes, the iceberg looks like a misshapen hunk of Styrofoam, but these are very small quibbles. The sets and costumes are as lavish as anything hollywood has been able to produce in the meantime, and some clever tricks have been employed to give the impression of a slanting deck.

Special features:

  • ?The making of A night to remember: This bonus footage looks to have been filmed sometime in the 1970’s, and the presentation looks outdated. It is made up of interviews with the film’s producer, William MacQuitty, and the author of the preceding book, Walter Lord. There is some interesting info here, but the documentary has a very long and rambling quality that will almost certainly put you to sleep.

  • Original trailer and split-screen restoration: A narrated trailer, followed by before-and-after restoration shots from key moments in the film. These make you appreciate just how much they’ve managed to clean up the image quality.

  • Production notes: Roy Ward Baker: Some scrolling text which lists the professional achievements of the film’s director.

  • Original costume notes: Concept drawings of some of the period costumes, accompanied by informative text.

  • Press and publicity: A slideshow of some of the many posters that were produced to advertise the film.

  • Behind the scenes gallery: Black-and-white stills of the sets and actors, with text to describe each one.

  • General production gallery: Yet more stills, this time from the finished film.

Video and Audio:

The picture quality is very crisp, providing an excellent contrast between black and white elements on the screen. The scenes of the ship leaving in front of hat-waving crowds are still hazy and heavy with artefacts, but these consist of actual footage from 1912, and are impressive for that reason. The film is book-ended by an adventurous orchestral score which perfectly sets the mood. Voices and sound effects are all clearly defined. 

Closing comments: 

An iconic film has been restored and brought back to life, making good use of the Blu-ray format. It’s a very fitting release for the 100th year anniversary of the Titanic disaster.






 
 



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