Andrew V. McLaglen's Shenandoah from Universal makes its third appearance in a high-end video format, after two laserdisc editions. Universal's DVD offers some serious volume on the soundtrack -- when the cannons go off in the battle scene that follows the credits, your neighbors are likely to know about it, depending upon how one's speakers are set up. The music is mastered in equally impressive fashion -- Frank Skinner's arrangement of the folk tune referred to in the title, complete with trumpets and a horn embellishment, is presented in exquisite detail, as is the gentle orchestral idyll depicting Stewart's youngest son's fishing in the opening, and the rest of the film sounds just as good. The two-channel stereo and Dolby 5.1 digital surround options both yield enjoyable playback results through speakers. The image is also far superior to the old laserdisc edition -- the northern Virginia landscape as depicted in the opening is a lush, seductive setting, and all of the color tones and details throughout the film are captured perfectly. The 1.85-to-1 aspect ratio also focuses the action beautifully and the entire viewing experience is enhanced here. By contrast, the original trailer -- which is the only bonus feature present -- shows yellowed skin tones and rough, boomy sound. The film has gotten 20 chapters, and the disc opens automatically on a simple two-layer menu, with the "play" option in the default setting. Captions and subtitles are accessible in English, French, and Spanish.
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