Sharpe's Gold (Blu-ray) (1995)
|Year Of Production||1995|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Tom Clegg|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||English for the Hearing Impaired||Smoking||Yes|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
1813. The English army commanded by Lord Wellington (Hugh Fraser) has almost driven the French out of Spain. French supply columns are being ambushed by Major Richard Sharpe (Sean Bean) and his riflemen, but other English soldiers are more intent on looting and deserting. Provost Lieutenant Ayres (Ian Shaw) hangs one of Sharpe’s men for stealing a chicken and Sharpe is powerless to stop it. But Sharpe soon has other problems. Spanish Partisan leader El Casco (Abel Folk) from his hidden base in the mountains advises Wellington that he has captured over 50 English deserters and is willing to trade them for Baker Rifles. Wellington’s new Intelligence Officer Major Munro (Hugh Ross) agrees it is a good deal and so Sharpe and his men, accompanied by Lieutenant Ayres, are sent with the rifles to exchange for the deserters.
To complicate matters Wellington’s cousin Bess Nugent (Rosaleen Linehan) and her daughter Ellie (Jayne Ashbourne) have come to Spain to search for her husband, who has gone missing in the mountains. Not taking no for an answer, they tag along, uninvited, with Sharpe and his men. In the mountains Sharpe and his men fight off French cavalry and Sharpe becomes Ellie’s lover. They also hear stories about a hoard of Aztec gold as well as the practicing of horrendous Aztec rites, such as men being frayed while alive or having their hearts cut from their living bodies. And, then, when they meet El Casco and his men who are wearing centuries old Conquistador breastplates and helmets, myth becomes a reality that quickly become very dangerous, especially once El Casco sets his eyes on Ellie.
Sharpe’s Gold is again directed by Tom Clegg but this time the screenplay was written by Nigel Kneale who decided that he could improve on Bernard Cornwell’s novel so he discarded nearly all of the book as he “had an idea which would be more fun to do”. He may have thought Aztec treasure and rites would be fun but this is more Indiana Jones than Richard Sharpe. While the novels (and films) are rather far-fetched and fanciful they are nevertheless grounded in the reality of Wellington’s campaigns against the French, and army life, on the Peninsula. When Sharpe’s Gold sticks to army life, and the tactics of the riflemen, it is decent, but with Aztec treasure and religious rites and the added character of Ellie, who is more Thoroughly Modern Ellie than 1810s aristocrat, and whose character arc in the film is unbelievable at best, this does not feel much like a Sharpe story.
Sharpe’s Gold, is presented in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio, in 1080i using the MPEG-4 AVC code.
Sharpe’s Gold was released here on DVD about a decade ago and when I reviewed it here I thought that the film looked dull, the colours muted and there was edge enhancement and colour bleeding. The series was shot originally on 16 mm film and a note on the cover of this collection advises that “in mastering Sharpe to HD the original film negatives have been used to ensure the ultimate HD viewing experience. On rare occasions within the series, the original negatives were either not available or in too poor a condition to use--in these instances standard definition content has been up scaled to complete the narrative. This up scaling effects less than 5% of the content.”
The result is the best presentation of the series thus far. Exteriors in daylight are good with solid detail; the rugged hills and valleys of the Ukraine and the marching armies (this episode also seems to have an extra budget for extras) look good, while the action scenes, including the ambush of French wagons and the attack by French cavalry, are solid in motion. Close ups of mud, blood or power marks on faces are clear. Colours are natural and a vast improvement over the DVD; check out the bright red coats of the English infantry, or El Casco’s crimson cloak. Blacks are solid and shadow detail in the one sequence at night in the rain very good. The scenes in the interior of El Casco’s cave, however, do have a browny tinge but noise is absent. Skin tones are mostly decent, grain controlled, marks were absent.
English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.
Audio choices are English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 640 Kbps and Dolby Digital 2.0 at 256 Kbps, so no lossless audio.
Dialogue is clear. The surrounds were mostly utilised for music, horses’ hooves, tramping feet, distant thunder, rain and insects. The action scenes featured rifle fire, cavalry horses’ hooves, steel on steel, shouts and cries. The subwoofer added some depth to the explosions. The music by Dominic Muldowney andJohn Tams used some period tunes and period instruments and was effective.
There are no lip synchronisation issues.
|Surround Channel Use|
Two silent text screens with information about the Spanish Partisans who fought against the French, including a female Partisan leader who was the model for Teresa.
Photos with music and text that summarise this episode.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There are Blu-ray releases of Sharpe’s Gold in various collections, some of which do list 1080p video and lossless 2.0 audio, plus a US Blu-ray with Sharpe’s Gold together with Sharpe’s Honour. Other collections are similar to our release Sharpe: The Classic Collection, which includes 14 movie length adventures on seven Blu-rays. Sharpe’s Gold shares a Blu-ray with Sharpe’s Honour.
The novel Sharpe’s Gold was set in 1810 and included Sharpe meeting Teresa for the first time. It did not include Aztec gold and rites or a mother and daughter looking for a missing husband. Sharpe’s Gold is decent in parts but the whole Aztec theme, not to mention the character of Ellie, doesn’t feel right.
The video, although 1080i, is a vast improvement over that of the DVD, the audio is still lossy Dolby Digital. Nevertheless, fans of the Sharpe series should be happy with this improved presentation.
Sharpe: The Classic Collection was supplied for review by ViaVision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|