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The Hindenburg

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The Hindenburg (1975), directed by Robert Wise, was one of the first older Universal titles to appear direct from Universal Studios Home Video on DVD -- up until 1998, the studio, unsure of precisely how big the DVD market might become, had allowed most of its back catalog titles to be released under license through Image Entertainment and Good Times. The Hindenburg was also one of the earliest films in the Universal library to appear with bonus supplements on DVD, since neither the Image nor Good Times discs had...
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The Hindenburg (1975), directed by Robert Wise, was one of the first older Universal titles to appear direct from Universal Studios Home Video on DVD -- up until 1998, the studio, unsure of precisely how big the DVD market might become, had allowed most of its back catalog titles to be released under license through Image Entertainment and Good Times. The Hindenburg was also one of the earliest films in the Universal library to appear with bonus supplements on DVD, since neither the Image nor Good Times discs had any extra features. The DVD is a essentially a direct conversion of the letterboxed laserdisc edition, with approximately a 2.35:1 aspect ratio that captures the movie's Panavision theatrical image; the latter is essential, as airships are among the most horizontal visual subjects that it is possible to film, and most of the movie's images involve either the vast internal workings of the vehicle or exterior shots of it making its way across Europe and the Atlantic. There are some subtle digital artifacts in the image (in the shots containing a lot of picture information), such as large numbers of faces in medium-shot, which probably wouldn't show up in a contemporary film-to-video transfer. On a large-screen monitor, these anomalies can prove distracting, especially to viewers who aren't accustomed to such flaws in newer releases. Seeing the movie in its proper aspect ratio is also a mixed blessing, firming up the visual appeal and the value of the special effects and production design, but also reminding viewers of the film's fundamental problems, which consist principally of a ponderous script and a cast (led by George C. Scott and Anne Bancroft) that tries to make even the lightest dialogue seem profound -- all of this weighs the action and suspense down far more than any ballast being carried by the Hindenburg. It is an interesting idea for a movie, and the suspense elements are worked in reasonably well, but the DVD is a reminder of why the whole picture just failed to hang together. The movie has been treated respectfully, with 16 chapters -- adequate, though barely -- in a 125-minute film and a bonus section which includes a fair selection of cast bios (and that of director/producer Wise) along with production notes that try hard to make the movie seem more exciting that it actually is. The Hindenburg might be due for an upgrade with a new transfer, and perhaps an interview or commentary track by Wise; it may not be a perfect movie, or even a terribly good one, but it's a far better film and a far more interesting movie than its "cousin" production, Earthquake. The movie begins automatically on start-up, and the menu must be accessed manually. The triple-layer selection of features is easy to use and to enter or exit, and there are optional French and Spanish language tracks and subtitles. Although the packaging claims a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, it seems that the producers cheated just a bit on the letterboxing, cropping the sides of the images very slightly to make the letterboxing less extreme.
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Special Features

Production notes; Cast & filmmakers' bios; Film highlights; Web links
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Like its namesake, The Hindenburg is big and bloated. Unlike the famous zeppelin, this film never gets off the ground, let alone soars. A plodding, tiresome, and often irritating account of what might have brought about the landmark disaster, Hindenburg is full of clichés, stereotypes, and soaped-up melodrama. What it lacks is interesting characters, believable plot twists, intelligent (or just engaging) dialogue, and anything resembling suspense or momentum. Though it only runs slightly longer than two hours, with Robert Wise's leaden directing, it feels much longer. The film is not a total loss, however. The designers meticulously recreated the interior of the ship, and there's a certain historical fascination in getting to see its inner workings in such detail. Also, Albert Whitlock and Glen Robinson's visual effects are superior. The sets and costumes are quite evocative, and Robert Surtees has photographed the whole thing marvelously, with a judicious use of sepia. It's also hard to discredit a cast that's as chock-full of stars and talented players as this, although not even the likes of George C. Scott and Anne Bancroft can breathe much life into the script. These assets don't make Hindenburg good, but they keep it from being as big a disaster as the real thing.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/27/1998
  • UPC: 025192041327
  • Original Release: 1975
  • Rating:

  • Source: Universal Studios
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Cinemascope (2.35:1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:07:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 32,051

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
George C. Scott Col. Ritter
Anne Bancroft Countess
William Atherton Boerth
Roy Thinnes Vogel
Gig Young Douglas
Burgess Meredith Pajetta
Charles Durning Capt. Pruss
Richard Dysart Lehmann
Robert Clary Spah
René Auberjonois Maj. Napier
Peter Donat Channing
Alan Oppenheimer Breslau
Joanna Moore Mrs. Channing
Stephen Elliott Capt. Fellows
Greg Mullavey Morrison
Ruth Kobart Hattie
John Lee Paul Breslau
Stephen Manley Peter Breslau
Joe Turkel Detective Moore
Joyce Davis Eleanore Ritter
Katherine Helmond Mrs. Mildred Breslau
Jean Rasey Valerie Breslau
Ted Gehring Knorr
Lisa Pera Freda Halle
Joe di Reda Schulz
Peter Canon Ludecke
Charles Macauley HIrsch
Rex Holman Dimmler
Jan Merlin Speck
Betsy Jones-Moreland Stewardess Imhoff
Colby Chester Eliot Howell III
Teno Pollick Frankel
Curt Lowens Elevator Man
Kip Niven Lt. Truscott
Michael Richardson Rigger Neuhaus
Herbert Nelson Dr. Eckener
Scott Walker Gestapo Major
Val Bisoglio Lt. Lombardi
Simon Scott Luftwaffe General
William Sylvester Luftwaffe Colonel
David Mauro Goebbels
Sandy Ward Detective Grunberger
Norman Alden
Technical Credits
John A. Bolger Jr. Director
Robert Wise Director, Producer
Donn Cambern Editor
Edward C. Carfagno Production Designer
Nelson Gidding Screenwriter
Dorothy Jeakins Costumes/Costume Designer
Howard Kazanjian Asst. Director
Richard A. Levinson Original Story, Screenwriter
William Link Original Story, Screenwriter
John L. Mack Sound/Sound Designer
Frank R. McKelvey Set Decoration/Design
Leonard Peterson Sound/Sound Designer
David Shire Score Composer
Clifford Stine Cinematographer
Robert Surtees Cinematographer
Albert J. Whitlock Special Effects
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter List
1. Early Birds/ Opening Credits [:14]
2. Pre-Flight Plotting [3:07]
3. The Passengers Set Sail That Day [2:44]
4. Flying Dinosaur [4:47]
5. Suspicious Minds [3:49]
6. St. Elmo's Fire [3:31]
7. Zeppelin Concert [6:07]
8. A Tear Repair In The Air [1:28]
9. On The Eastern Front [7:58]
10. Two Heroes [5:29]
11. Games Of Chance [2:02]
12. The Ticking Clock [5:53]
13. Arrested Arrival [1:50]
14. Race Against Time...And Destiny [4:51]
15. The Worst Catastrophe [2:40]
16. The Body Count/ End Credits [7:40]
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Side #1 --
   Bonus Materials
      Production Notes
      Cast and Filmmakers
         George C. Scott
         Anne Bancroft
         William Artherton
         Roy Thinnes
         Gig Young
         Burgess Meredith
         Charles Durning
         Richard A. Dysart
         Robert Wise
      Universal Web Links
   Language Selection
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Customer Reviews

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