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The Sand Pebbles

review by Zach B.


Rated: PG-13

Studio: Fox

Running Time: 179 minutes

Starring Steve McQueen, Richard Attenborough, Richard Crenna, Candice Bergen

Screenplay by Robert Anderson
Based on the novel by Richard McKenna

Directed by Robert Wise

Retail Price: $24.98

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Robert Wise, Candice Bergen and Mako, Two Audio Documentaries, Three Radio Spots, Thearical Trailer, Still Gallery

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby 4.0 Surround, English Stereo, French Mono, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, French Subtitles, Chapter Selection (36 Chapters)

"The Sand Pebbles" is quite an interesting movie that intertwines a few stories into one. You can even say it has microcosmo and macrocosm comparisons. The film follows Jake Holman (Steve McQueen) as he must battle his own internal conflicts against the backdrop of 1926 China where Americans are caught in the bloodiness of it all. There's also another plot where Frenchy (Richard Attenborough) rescues his Chinese bride from being auctioned. This film has a lot and a lot to say, and it really gets a ton across aboard.

Robert Wise, an incredible director does an impressive job with "The Sand Pebbles". Sure, it may be three hours in length, but it moves pretty quick and he doesn't let the pace down. He packs many great sequences filled with passion and drama that you'll really get sucked into it. The editing in this movie and the camera shots are also pretty incredible.

The story is really good with some raw, dramatic scenes and great dialogue. The acting is great with an Oscar® nominated performance from Steve McQueen. The acting makes this film pretty realistic. The locations and sets are great, and the action sequences are nicely done. There's some romance to boot. All around, "The Sand Pebbles" is a long but really involving movie. If you have the patience, you're sure to love it.

"The Sand Pebbles" is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and considering the film's age, it looks wonderful. There are some noticeable blemishes, scratches and pieces of dirt but it's not too distracting. The image can be a bit shaky sometimes which I found annoying, and I noticed some shimmering, noise and edge enhancment. A little grain also pops up but nothing major. Overall, a very sharp image that's impressive for a thirty-five year old film.

The English Dolby 4.0 Surround is pretty much mono all around, but it is surprisingly articulate and gets the job done nicely. Dialogue is clear and sort of sounds it age but doesn't exactly. The little surrounds during the action oriented scenes and crowds make it a bit more fuller. Not the greatest, but considering the film's age this remix is nicely done while keeping the feel of the film. English Stereo, French Mono, English closed captions and subtitles in French, Spanish and English are included.

"The Sand Pebbles" is packed with some great features. There is a great Still Gallery that is nicely put together, a Theatrical Trailer that's rough and in amamorphic widescreen plus three Radio Spots.

Two Audio Documentaries are included: "Changsha Bund and The Streets Of Taipet" and "A Ship Called SAN PABLO". They last a good length and though it lacks visual punch, both of them are still well worth a listen and provide some nice insight about the film.

While I would have liked to see some cast and crew interviews or some type of new retrospective, the Audio Commentary with Robert Wise, Candice Bergen and Mako makes up for that. Wise is a bit slow in speaking but has a lot of information throughout the film that you really can absorb. He has a lot of wonderful things to say about the production, the cast and crew and history of the events. Bergen and Mako's comments are edited in and it's nice to hear their thoughts, but this is mostly Wise's track.

Fox has delivered an outstanding DVD version of "The Sand Pebbles". With a nice presentation and supplements, this is a fantastic movie and it's no reason why it's loved by so many film fans.

(4.5/5 - NOT included in final score)




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