Monday, November 25, 2013

Blood and Sand Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Allie Schembra
Tyrone Power and Rita Hayworth lead a star-studded cast in this classic film that won an Academy Award for its Cinematography in 1941.  Juan Gallardo (Power) returns home to claim the hand of his childhood love and continue his rise toward becoming Spain’s greatest matador.  But when he catches the eye of a beautiful seductress (Hayworth), Juan will learn that the battles that matter most are fought outside the ring.

Film (4 ½ out of 5 stars)

Blood and Sand is the Academy Award-winning film about Juan Gallardo (Tyrone Power) and his quest to become Spain’s greatest matador. As a boy, he leaves his childhood home in Sevilla and promises to return and marry his childhood sweetheart Carmen, (Linda Darnell). 10 years late, he returns and marries Carmen and continues his rise to greatness. At one of his bullfights, he catches the eye of Doña Sol des Muire (Rita Hayworth), who leads him astray and he quickly learns the things that matters to him most aren't always in the ring. Based on the novel of the same name by Vicente Blasco Ibanez Blood and Sand was directed by Rouben Mamoulian and stars Tyrone Powers, Linda Darnell, Rita Hayworth and Anthony Quinn.

Blood and Sand opens with a young Juan Gallardo lying in bed and dreaming of becoming a matador, like his father, who died in the ring. He soon sneaks out of the house and, after an argument over his father’s talent in a bar, makes his way to the local ranch, where he practices his bullfighting. His childhood sweetheart, Carmen, lives on the ranch with her father. Juan is caught by Carmen’s father, who threatens to turn him into the police. Before running away to Madrid with his friends, Juan promises Carmen he will return when he’s the greatest matador in Spain and marry her.

Ten years later, Juan returns and keeps his promise to marry Carmen and has become the greatest bullfighter in Spain. Carmen does not attend his bullfights, choosing instead, to spend the fights praying for Juan’s safety. At one fight, Juan meets the beautiful Doña Sol des Muire, who he dedicates the death of the bull to. Juan is soon enamored of Doña Sol and begins an affair. After finding out about the affair, Carmen leaves Juan, who then loses his money, neglects his training and reputation. After his fall, Doña Sol leaves him for his childhood friend and fellow matador, Manolo de Palma, Juan realizes he has lost everything important to him. Juan decides he will fight his last bull, and while praying for his safety, sees Carmen in the church. He asks her for forgiveness and vows to make this his final fight and one that the crowd will never forget.

Watching Blood and Sand reminded me that as I've gotten older, I've begun to love old movies. I love sitting down under a blanket, with a cup of tea and watching classics. If I’d have been offered to review this movie 10 years ago, I probably would have passed saying it was too “old” and “boring.” However, that is not the case and I really enjoyed it. I love the “Old Hollywood” feel of the movie, with classic actors like Tyrone Powers and Rita Hayworth. I felt that all the actors were right for the roles, no one seemed out of place and it really held my attention. This movie is definitely one that I'll keep on my shelf and go back to on a rainy day.
Video (4 out of 5 stars)

This 1080p transfer is presented in full screen 1.33:1, and filmed in Technicolor, the colors were bright and sharp. In the dark, the colors popped and the shadows did not overwhelm the screen. You could tell what was a shadow and what was supposed to be part of the scene. Night scenes outside had a little too much of a blue hue, but were still sharp. The night sky seemed too bright of a blue to actually be night. Skin tones were natural and not washed out. The bright colors of the women’s dresses and the matadors’ suits were sharp and did not blend together. Mostly, the all the colors were the same vibrancy and I was not distracted by characters or colors that were not the focus of the scene.
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)

Blood and Sand was presented in Dolby Digital English DTS-HD Master Audio and translated into Spanish and French, also in Dolby Digital, with English subtitles for the hearing impaired and Spanish subtitles are also available. The sound was not too loud or too soft. When there were whispers, you could still clearly hear the words and when the crowd was cheering or characters speaking loudly, the words and voices did not run together. The background sounds did not overtake the dialogue between the characters and I could clearly hear and understand what was being said. The music did not blend together and there were no echoes.
Extras (1 out of 5 stars)

Given that Blood and Sand is a movie which was filmed 72 years ago, I did not expect many extras.
  • Commentary by Richard Crudo, Director of Photography and 2003-2006 President of the American Society of Cinematographers – Mr. Crudo explains how Technicolor works and what it takes to make the scenes pop as much as they do. He talks about the use of color and how it relates to the tone of the movie. He also discusses the duties of a cinematographer and what it takes to put everything together. 

Summary (4 out of 5 stars)

I really enjoyed Blood and Sand, and along with the story, the picture and sound quality was very good. I was surprised at how good the picture was for a movie that old, and I really liked the story. The final score was brought down a little because of the lack of extras, though I couldn't fault them too much since I’m sure in the 1940s there was no thought to what might be on Blu-rays more than 70 years later, so I wasn't really expecting there to be a gag reel or anything like that. I understand that extras are a fairly new addition and the focus was more on the movie. With that being said, I was happy with the rest of this release and would recommend it.

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