The Long Ships

The Long Ships (1963)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, Russ Tamblyn, Rosanna Schiaffino, Oscar Homolka
Extras: Theatrical Trailer

’The Long Ships’ is a slightly different Viking tale than you’d expect at first, as it plays in the Orient for the most part. Prince El Mansuh (Sidney Poitier) is obsessed with the desire to own the ’Mother Of Voices, ’ a mythical giant bell made of solid gold, but doesn’t know where to find it. At the same time, Rolfe (Richard Widmark) and his brother Orm (Russ Tamblyn), two Viking browsers, set out with the Norse king’s funeral ship they stole, to find the bell as well. Inevitably, the two groups collide as they search for their destinies.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is presenting ’The Long Ships’ in its original 2.20:1 widescreen aspect ratio on this disc. The image is clean throughout though some grain is visible on a variety of shots. Color reproduction is good with a warm color palette almost throughout, and hues that are saturated but never bleeding. Black levels are good, maintaining good shadow detail throughout, though occasional weak spots are evident.

The DVD contains a Dolby Digital audio track of the movie that is generally clean but gives away its age with its limited frequency response and dynamics. While it is never creating an unpleasant presentation, dialogues are bit harsh-sounding at times while certain sound effects simply lack the body you would expect. The track is undistorted, though, and dialogues are always understandable without being drowned out.

A selection of trailers is the only bonus found on the release.

’The Long Ships’ is an entertaining movie, but it is not nearly as adventurous as the premise may suggest. Moments of peril and suspense are rare and much of the film simply flows along as characters simply try to sort out the issues at hand. The film doesn’t take itself too seriously either and there are a good number of moments where light humor is sprinkled in the story, making it all the more enjoyable. The DVD is solid, though given the lack of extras, $25 appears a bit steep and you may want to rent it first.