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The Sand Pebbles
review by Zach B.
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
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
(3.5/5, NOT an average)