U-571: The Controversy Continues

Not content with rewriting history with the WW2 submarine film U-571, EiV have decided to stir up a little more controversy by altering the films presentation for the UK Region 2 release. While every other release (as far as we have been able to discover anyway) is presented in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Entertainment in Video have decided that would be a good idea to open up the ratio to 1.85:1.

Many people are unhappy about this, and to be honest they have good reason. While our disc does reveal more in the way of picture information, it does so at the expense of the director's original composition. In addition, there is also some debate as to whether the special effects shots would have been created in anything other than the full 2.35:1 ratio - any change to these could therefore result in cropping or some minor panning and scanning.

It gets stranger though - EiV must have paid extra to create this new transfer. The Region 4 disc features the correct 2.35:1 transfer so this now means that there are two PAL masters out there. Weird, and I for one cannot see any good reason to go to this extra expense.

So, if you do want this film (and there are plenty of you who won't as a matter of principle) you really have three options - none of which is perfect...

  1. The Region 1 disc - it's the correct aspect ratio, and also features a DTS soundtrack. It's NTSC though so that may be one negative point to some of you.
  2. The Region 4 disc - it's also the correct aspect ratio, but it doesn't feature the DTS soundtrack. This one could be of interest to those of you who'd rather have the PAL transfer or don't have access to a DTS compatible system. Oh, and it's the cheapest of the three!
  3. The Region 2 (UK) disc - wrong aspect ratio, no DTS and the most expensive. Hmm, now let me think...
Of course, it could be that continental Europe gets the film in the correct ratio - I've been trying to locate some info on it but as of yet have not been able to dig up any details other than Amazon are importing the UK release for their German customers.

Colin Polonowski

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