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Set in Rome during the early days of Christianity, QUO VADIS ($21) is old Hollywood style entertainment on a grand scale, and a film that features a tremendously talented cast, which includes Robert Taylor, Deborah Kerr, Leo Genn (Oscar Nominee), Finlay Currie and Peter Ustinov (Oscar Nominee). Sure QUO VADIS may have been filmed in Rome, but the tremendous sets, thousands of extras, the Oscar Nominated Technicolor cinematography by Robert Surtees and the superior MGM production values cements the film’s place as a great Hollywood religious epic.

In QUO VADIS, Taylor portrays heroic Roman military commander, Marcus Vinicius, who returns to a corrupt Rome, which has fallen under the reign of the mad Emperor Nero (Ustinov). While close to the seat of power, Marcus falls in love with a devout Christian named Lygia (Deborah Kerr). After burning Rome to suit his whim, the cowardly Nero places blame for the conflagration squarely on the shoulders of the Christians, which places Marcus in opposition to his Emperor. As Christians are fed to the lions, Marcus finds faith and Nero’s reign begins hurtling towards its end. The cast of QUO VADIS also features Patricia Laffan, Abraham Sofaer, Marina Berti, Buddy Baer, Felix Aylmer, Nora Swinburne, Ralph Truman, Norman Wooland and Peter Miles.

Warner Home Video has made QUO VADIS available on DVD in full screen transfer reproduces the film’s proper 1.37:1 aspect ratio. Although QUO VADIS has undergone an Ultra-Resolution Digital Transfer from restored picture elements, the presentation isn’t perfect. There are still a few registration issues in places, but for the most part, this is the absolute best QUO VADIS has ever looked in the home venue. Image sharpness and detail usually impress at the SD level, except when optical effects come into play, or when said registration issues become apparent. Colors are fairly vibrant and come close to Technicolor levels of intensity, but there are some variations in the levels of saturation. Additionally, some of the hues seem a bit off, particularly the Technicolor reds, which should appear more crimson than orange. Blacks are solid, white are usually stable. Shadow detail is quite respectable for a film that is a few years shy of its sixtieth anniversary. Blemishes are few and grain appears quite mild. Spreading the film across two discs minimizes the appearance digital compression artifacts.

QUO VADIS features a great sounding Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. Most traces of background hiss and other audible anomalies have been cleaned up in the mastering process. Sure, fidelity is limited by the recording technology available at the time, but the sound is effective. Miklós Rózsa’s Oscar Nominated score sounds quite good with amplification applied, and remains free from noticeable distortions. The Overture and Exit Music have also been restored in this DVD edition of the film. Dialogue is very cleanly rendered and always maintains full intelligibility. A French language track has also been provided on the DVD, in addition to English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a couple of nice non-fluff extras. The primary supplement is a running Audio Commentary with Critic / Film Historian F.X. Feeney. A forty-five minute retrospective Documentary entitled In The Beginning: Quo Vadis And The Genesis Of The Biblical Epic is also provided. The documentary features interviews with numerous film critics and historians who look back on the significance of QUO VADIS.

QUO VADIS is a great old time Hollywood religious epic that makes a long overdue appearance on DVD. While the presentation isn’t perfect, it should please movie buffs eager to acquire the film. Recommended.



Quo Vadis (Two-Disc Special Edition) (1951)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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