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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Lord Jim (1965)

"There is too much pride in your humility."
- Paul Lukas (Mr. Stein)

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: August 15, 2004

Stars: Peter O'Toole
Other Stars: Paul Lukas, Curt Jurgens, Daliah Lavi, Eli Wallach, James Mason, Jack Hawkins
Director: Richard Brooks

Manufacturer: DVDL
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (violence)
Run Time: 02h:34m:03s
Release Date: August 24, 2004
UPC: 043396048027
Genre: adventure

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B-CC- D-

DVD Review

Perhaps if the talent behind Lord Jim were not so impressive the film would play better. Considering that it is based on a novel by Joseph Conrad, stars Peter O'Toole, Jack Hawkins, Eli Wallach, and James Mason (all of whom have appeared in at least one grand epic), was shot by David Lean's veteran cinematographer (Freddie Young), and is directed by Richard Brooks, this should be a great motion picture. Yet, despite its numerous achievements, it feels kind of dull, almost as if it is an exercise in filmmaking that lacks passion, but has an abundance of professionalism.

Set in the Victorian Age, Lord Jim tells the story of Jim (O'Toole), who enlists into the British Navy as an officer. His commanding officer, Capt. Marlow (Jack Hawkins), narrates the opening act of the story, giving a detailed account of Jim's character and ambitions. As Peter O'Toole, an excellent actor with a strong physical presence, is playing the role of Jim, it is a shame that Richard Brooks' screenplay makes little use of him for the first half-hour of the film. Rather than hearing a voice-over narration, it would be nice to see Jim's feats and to hear him speak for himself. As it stands, the opening act amounts to little more than a character sketch of a man with which the audience does not form a connection.

However, once O'Toole is unleashed, things pick up. In a convincing scene, Jim is acting as first officer of a vessel that he fears will sink during a violent storm. Out of cowardice, Jim abandons ship only to learn the next morning that it never sank. He is publicly humiliated and seeks to live a life of obscurity. Anonymity, however, is not in the cards. While doing some petty work for the Far East Trading Company on the China Sea, Jim heroically stops the gunpowder from blowing up when his boat catches fire. This leads him to form a friendship with Mr. Stein (Paul Lukas) that will send him on a mission up river, similar to Conrad's masterpiece, Heart of Darkness. Once Jim begins his mission to help a village fight a despot (Eli Wallach), the film becomes a fun adventure yarn.

The opening action sequences are dated by today's standards, especially the awkward cut away to avoid showing Jim jumping off of his boat. However, this is not the fault of Brooks' direction, but an example of the importance of having characters engage an audience in order to make the events depicted on screen timeless. Even though the film has handsome production values throughout—especially the 70mm location photography—modern audiences might be turned away because the script does not develop Jim enough to make him applicable to today's world. His motivations are not only held in secret from the other characters, including his eventual wife (Daliah Lavi, whose character's name is never mentioned), but also from the audience. Thankfully, O'Toole's talent as an actor brings a strong human element to the story.

Perhaps it was inevitable that Brooks (and Conrad) would try to make this story weightier than it actually is. The final result, at least for this film version of Lord Jim, is a well-made motion picture that is not content with merely being a spectacle, but does not have the depth to be a great film.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.20:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: It would be interesting to know if Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment made this transfer from the original 70mm print or a 35mm duplication. The image does not look strong enough to be coming from a 70mm source, but this could be a result of the film's age. The original aspect ratio of 2.20:1 is preserved in an anamorphic, single layer transfer that is by the numbers. Dirt and scratches appear throughout the print, but detail is strong and contrast is solid. Some shots at the beginning of the battle against Eli Wallach are diffused. This is an average transfer.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
English, Frenchyes

Audio Transfer Review: Presented in Dolby Digital 3.0 (there is also a French track available), Lord Jim's sound mix is not much different than a stereo mix. The surround speakers are never used and there is only minimal sound separation. The trip up the river supplies some nice ambience, but dialogue (especially during action sequences) is undermixed.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Japanese, Spanish with remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Lawrence of Arabia, The Bridge on the River Kwai, In Cold Blood
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: A trio of trailers is provided here as supplemental material. Lawrence of Arabia (4m:41) is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen and two-channel sound; The Bridge on the River Kwai (3m:07s) is presented in 2.35:1 nonanamorphic widescreen and two-channel sound; and In Cold Blood (2m:55s) is presented in anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen and two-channel sound.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

Lord Jim is an entertaining movie that tries to bite off more than it can chew. The acting, especially by O'Toole, is good, and it has a streak of professional craftsmanship that will impress viewers. Unfortunately, the script is flawed and results in a final product that is weaker than it should be. This DVD is an average release, with a Dolby Digital 3.0 mix and widescreen transfer that will neither wow nor offend viewers. The extras are pretty slim, which will make this an ideal title for rental.


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