DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Titanic

Titanic is being released as both two and four disc sets, with the four disc set containing the two disc's contents onboard. I have been sent the two disc Special Edition.

The film is being marketed as the "director's cut," but be assured that this is the same feature film as released to cinemas. There is not the merest whiff of additional scenes in the movie.

Copy picture

First notes: the menus are nice, understated and very classy. The disc "shines up like a new penny," although the anti-piracy warnings are getting annoying, particularly on catalogue titles such as this.

And it is a great video transfer! Titanic looks every bit as good as it should with a glorious 2.30:1 widescreen presentation, enhanced for 16:9 televisions (the previous video incarnations did not have this increased resolution). Some slight flicker will be visible on interlaced displays, but this is expected, due to the lack of high frequency filtering to maximise the detail. Progressive scan displays will appreciate the wonderful film-like image, full of detail. Shadow is very good, although slightly less than reference, while skin tones are natural and compression is generally excellent (only a hint of mosquito noise on hard edges). This should look sensational projected!

The audio is equally well represented, in dual Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX and DTS-ES 6.1 (Discrete) bitstreams. Comparing the two reveals few differences, if any, after dialogue normalisation compensation. I even rearranged the furniture and hooked up an additional speaker to test the back-surround channel. Anyway, this is yet another reference audio mix. The soundstage is terrific, open and full of life, expertly blending voices, effects and James Horner's score gently and lightly early on (the magnificent King Of The World scene!), to the maelstrom of near disorientating audio during the film's showpiece sinking (from the moment the glass on the bridge shatters, all hell breaks loose.) I could rarely ask for a better audio experience. Crank it up.

The pair of discs contains the feature film spread over each (the platter change is thoughtfully placed) and they share three audio commentaries. One of these is by writer/director James Cameron, an energetic and thoughtful speaker, full of enthusiasm for his project. He explains early on that he is reluctant to do commentaries on his works, since the "film should speak for itself", but in the end it's more of a gift to the fans - a good value gift, in my opinion. The man just keeps finding interesting things to say.

He speaks openly about the pains of the writing process, his fascination with deep sea diving, the pleasure in operating the camera himself, the collaborative "organic process" of the talent, Kate and Leo's ad-libs, visual effects, clues and explanations. He's quite happy to take artistic decisions on what is historically permissible in his fictional account, rather than be tied to actual fact. This is definitely the cream of the crop and one of the best commentaries in a while, even if he says, "This shot really shows the scale of the set," about six times more than tolerable.

I freely admit chapter-skipping some of the Cast And Crew commentary - there's a fair amount of repeated information with reference to Cameron's, especially from producer Jon Landau, but Kate Winslet and Gloria Stewart (amazing to listen to!) provide interesting background and anecdotes. Horner appears late on, too, for some archival interview snippets.

In the Historians track, Don Lynch and Ken Marshall provide a great deal of detail and depth on the history of the wreck. Again, Cameron has already said much of what they catch on this talk-track, particularly concerning the terms of absolute historical accuracy. Still, the background knowledge and detail make it a worthwhile listen.

There is also an "enhanced viewing mode" for consumption, containing about 60 small documentary pods, window boxed in 4:3 full screen. An icon appears and you can hit the "enter" button on your remote. Lots of visual effects deconstructions, historical detail and trivia unfold. They total a little more than an hour over the two discs and, thankfully, you can view these pods separately from the movie and there's also a very useful Play All button to watch it as a strange sort of a Making Of documentary.

The only deleted scene is an alternate ending, edited by Cameron for our viewing pleasure. It's a fully finished sequence, complete with a 5.1 Surround EX mix, which re-edits the scene where Rose returns the Heart of the Ocean to it's watery grave. It's a very, very wise cut, since the film's tone would have been radically altered.

Lastly, this is a THX certified DVD, so there's a new THX trailer (the same one as on the recent Revenge Of The Sith), and the THX optimode calibration utility.

The four-disc release promises 45 minutes of fully finished deleted scenes, with commentary.

Reviewed on: 06 Nov 2005
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Titanic packshot
An epic disaster movie, with added passion and icebergs. Re-released in 3D.
Amazon link

Product Code: 2319701010

Region: 2

Ratio: 16:9 Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1/DST ES 6.1 Surround

Extras: 4 commentary tracks, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet; 90 minutes of branched Behind The Scenes footage; alternate ending; Celine Dion

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