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As a lifelong fan of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG ($35), I have acquired the film on home video numerous times, albeit only in the widescreen format. The first widescreen instance of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG came back in the days of the Laserdisc format. However, the road to a widescreen DVD release proved to be a bit more bumpy, and it took far longer than expected for CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG to be issued properly on that format. Of course, when CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG was finally reissued on widescreen DVD, the presentation was rather marvelous and I know a lot of fans were tickled when it appeared. Now into the high definition era, I am happy to report that CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG has made an impressive debut on Blu-ray that beautifully represents this 70mm film.

Based upon the book by Ian Fleming, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is set in the 1910s, tells the story of eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke), who lives with his two young children Jemima (Heather Ripley) and Jeremy (Adrian Hall), as well as his equally eccentric father (Lionel Jeffries). While Caractacus is a wide-eyed visionary, his inventions don’t always work as intended, but he perseveres at his endeavors; spending his time creating Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions. Caractacus’ first near taste of success comes when he meets beautiful candy company heiress Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), which allows him to market a whistling confection he’s created to her father Lord Scrumptious (James Robertson Justice). However, that invention, as well as the whistling candy, ultimately goes to the dogs.

Wanting to please his children, Caractacus then acquires and rebuilds a rusting hulk, which was once a great racing car. In his workshop, Caractacus transforms the rusted and burnt out old racer into a beautiful motorcar, which is dubbed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When the spoiled Baron Bomburst (Gert Fröbe) catches sight of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the tyrant decides he wants the car for his own. Unfortunately, when Baron Bomburst’s spies fail to acquire Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, he decides to go after its inventor instead, but ends up kidnapping Grandpa Potts by mistake. What follows is a rescue adventure in the Country of Vulgaria- a land where the people are oppressed and children are outlawed. The cast of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG also features legendary British comedian Benny Hill, as well as Anna Quayle, Robert Helpmann and Desmond Llewelyn.

MGM Home Entertainment through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.20:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. As I stated above, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG has made an impressive debut on Blu-ray. The 1080p presentation is really quite spectacular. Every bit of fine detail, texturing and visual richness has been eked out of the incredibly sharp 70mm source materials. There is a wonderful dimensional quality to the image that also comes from shooting on a large format negative. Of course, the optical special effects do have some issues that are highlighted by the high definition presentation, but they in no way detract from the overall gorgeousness of this presentation. Colors are beautifully saturated and appear lush. Blacks are deep and the whites are crisp. Contrast is generally smooth and maintains the attractiveness of the picture. Shadow detail is suitable to the material. The elements from which CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG has been transferred appear very clean. Grain is apparent in the image, which maintains the film-like quality of the presentation.

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Like the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix on the preceding DVD release, the sound on the Blu-ray maintains the character of an older 70mm multi-channel mix. Not surprisingly, the nicely imaged forward soundstage is dominant, but the rears do chime in rather effectively from time to time. I want to note that the rear channels are highly active during the pre-credit racecar sequence. The racecar sounds that accompany the darkened screen prior to the film’s opening sequence really set the stage and one’s anticipation for the film. However, it is the musical sequences where this lossless soundtrack really shines. As CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is more than forty years old, the sound isn’t comparable to modern soundtracks, but thanks to the lossless encode, the music sounds big, brassy and bright, which is exactly how it should sound. Dialogue is crisp and always easy to understand. An English stereo track, plus French DTS 5.1 and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are also encoded onto the disc.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, some of which have been ported from the previous DVD release. For the fans of the film’s songs there is a Sing-Along mode with subtitles for the musical numbers. Featurettes and other programs include: Remembering Chitty Chitty Bang Bang With Dick Van Dyke is an eighteen-minute interview in which the actor shares his memories of the production. A Fantasmagorical Motorcar runs ten minutes and shows just what happed to the driving version of the car from the film. Vintage Featurettes from the film’s original theatrical release include The Ditchling Tinkerer, The Potts Children's Featurette and Dick Van Dyke Press Interview. Also included are original Sherman Brothers Demos for the film’s songs. Two Theatrical Trailers, five TV Spots and a Photo Gallery are also provided. Interactive Games for the kids include: Chitty Chitty's Bang Bang Driving Game and Toot Sweet Toots Musical Maestro.

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG is a childhood favorite that has been beautifully rendered on Blu-ray- making it a truly scrumptious visual treat for longtime fans. Highly recommended.


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (1968)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright © 2010 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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