Midway: Collector's Edition
Midway, originally released in 1976, was directed by Jack Smight. Featured in the film are: Charlton Heston (Captain Matthew Garth), Henry Fonda (Admiral Nimitz), Toshirô Mifune (Admiral Yamamoto), Glenn Ford (Rear Admiral Spruance), James Coburn (Captain Maddox), Cliff Robertson (Commander Jessop), Robert Mitchum (Admiral Halsey), Pat Morita (Rear Admiral Kusaka), Hal Holbrook (Commander Rochefort), and Robert Wagner (Lieutenant Commander Blake).
On April 18th, the United States attacked mainland Japan. In response, Japan planned a massive surprise attack on the island of Midway, knowing that if they were successful, the US presence in the Pacific would be severely crippled. Fortunately, the US was able to intercept their coded messages and, with some accuracy, determine that their target was Midway. Admiral Nimitz then planned a counteroffensive, designed to pin and crush the Japanese naval forces at Midway. But if his intelligence were wrong, then the move would leave the west coast unguarded and open for attack. With much uncertainty on both sides, the opposing forces met in battle at Midway on June 3rd-6th in 1942. Though the US Naval forces were outnumbered, the United States won the Battle of Midway through a combination of luck and strategic skill that ended the threat of further Japanese invasions into the Pacific.
I usually enjoy historic films about the battles of World War II, so I was looking forward to seeing Midway. The film didn't disappoint. Probably the aspect of the film I loved the most was that it explored the choices that were or were not made that led to the victory of the United States in the Battle of Midway. The stock footage taken from the Battle of Midway used in the film is incredible and only serves to add to the film. The only part of the film that was disappointing was that the relationship between Captain Garth's son Tom and the Japanese girl he had fallen in love with takes up a lot of the film early on. While the scenes do serve the larger picture of showing American sentiments to the Japanese in WWII, they also slow the picture down.
Midway is presented it its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is enhanced for widescreen TVs. Simply put, the transfer is incredible. For the exception of the stock war footage, print flaws are few and far between. Throughout, there are some specks, light grain, and some smaller marks, but they are easily overlooked. The stock footage, as expected, fares worse, with a great deal of lines, specks, and grain. Colors are rich and natural throughout, with accurate flesh tones, and rich blacks.
Midway was originally presented in Sensurround, which was a low-frequency sound system that essentially adds deep bass to the mono track. For the home release, Midway is presented in Dolby Mono with the .1 LFE channel (1.1) in English, French, and Spanish. For the most part, the film is dialogue driven with a terrific score by John Williams. Only during the battle scenes does the LFE channel become active, but the effect is impressive. Dialogue throughout is crisp and clean with no distortion. Optional English captions are included.
For this Collector's Edition of Midway, Universal has included quite a few neat extras. First and foremost is The Making of Midway, an almost forty-minute documentary featuring interviews with Heston, Director Smight, Producer Walter Mirsch, Editor Frank Urioste, along with others involved in the film. This new documentary covers the evolution of the film, the film's place in history, how the cast was assembled, how the film accurately portrayed the real-life events surrounding the Battle of Midway, and more.
Next are three shorter featurettes: The Score of Midway, Sensurround: The Sound of Midway, and the film's original featurette, They Were There. The Score of Midway runs about six minutes long and primarily features interviews with Smight and John Williams. Williams both discusses the score and compares it to his later scores and Smight compliments his use of music in the film. Sensurround: The Sound of Midway is a tad over four minutes in length and offers a more in-depth look at Sensurround. They Were There is hosted and narrated by Charlton Heston and features short interviews with three of the men depicted in the film: Commander Rochefort, Commander Leslie and Ensign George Gay. This featurette is six and a half minutes long.
There are also five additional scenes included, all added to the film when it appeared on TV. The five scenes together add a romantic subplot between Captain Garth and his girlfriend, Ann. Each of the five scenes is in full frame.
Also included on the disc is the film's trailer, production notes, cast and crew bios, recommendations, and weblinks.
Universal has provided a great presentation and some terrific extras for Midway. No fan of the film should miss this, and those who are new to the movie should definitely give it a look, especially if they're a fan of the genre or the actors involved. Highly Recommended!