Schindler's List has received a positively sublime 25th anniversary UHD release. The native 4K, shot-on-film presentation has also received a vital Dolby Vision color enhancement that is the perfect compliment to the texturally alive black-and-white visuals. The 2160p resolution affords the film a significant leap in sharpness over the Blu-ray and superb contrast balance within its black and white photography. The opening titles are strikingly clear and finely colored, but tastefully so. The transition to black and white is seamless, with smoke from a recently extinguished candle becoming steam engine exhaust. The dense smoke offers no troubling banding or other potentially problematic artifacts, which holds true for the duration of the film. Character presentations are firm and exquisitely filmic. Facial definition is stellar, whether clean, smooth skin on younger characters or intimate portraits of elderly camp detainees that reveal sagging bags under the eyes, wrinkles, and other age-related deteriorations with amazing clarity and intimacy. Clothing, whether expensive suits, crisp Nazi military uniforms, or clothing the Jews wear, including tattered jackets and worn garments that reveal tears and frays with striking clarity, are all immaculately revealing. Location details are incredibly dense and remarkably sharp and detailed. A cathedral in chapter four, crowded city streets, old basements, and the wooden bunk houses in the internment camps all reveal critical macro environmental elements and background micro details with equal sharpness, all of which find significantly more stability and clarity over the Blu-ray, which often appears extremely soft in comparison. The image is complimented by a fine grain structure that is a constant companion and lends the image a breathtaking filmic texturing.
The Dolby Vision color grading offers an upward leap on level with that which the 4K resolution affords the material. Whites and lighter grays are much more brilliant, but firmly so, intense but not garish. Black level depth is particularly strong, dense and deep but never crushing out critical components in any frame under any lighting conditions, including dark and dense shadowy corners. The middle ground grayscale appears precise and perfectly balanced with much more nuanced gradation than is evident on the Blu-ray. As for the film's color bookends, they are handled well, boasting firm saturation and resplendent color accuracy with an obvious expansion in range, saturation, and nuance. The girl in the red coat, probably the most thematically critical character in the film, does not have her coat's color drastically altered. It remains a fairly understated, muted red, enough to stand apart from the surrounding grayscale but not enough to distract from the scene's emotional impact. Universal and the Dolby Vision colorists have finessed the color, carefully enhancing it without substantively changing the look, flow, and feel of the scene. Though the film is difficult to watch for its brutal and unwavering depiction of the horrors of the Holocaust, viewing it in 4K and with Dolby Vision enhancement, from a purely technical perspective, is an incredibly rewarding experience.
The film's new Dolby Atmos soundtrack delivers a refined, reserved experience that sonically compliments the movie's visuals and tone extremely well, with the added overhead channels gently engaging in a few key moments and offering minor fill rather than fundamentally altering the sound experience. Precision sound envelopment draws the listener into any number of the film's scenes. Light but well defined environmental effects when the Jews are forced to register in the opening minutes present with voices emanating from around the listener and clanking typewriters adding an eerie cadence to the din. In the following scene, Carlos Gardel's Por Una Cabeza gently envelopes the listener with crystal-clear notes, prioritized above light, but audible, party atmosphere. There is modestly discrete overhead use at times, such as loudspeaker announcements at the 45 minute mark and some deeper reverb when gunshots are fired in a tunnel in the 64 minute mark. Gunshots in general are not incredibly powerful and loud, but there's a good pop and reverb when fired out in the open. Dialogue propels the film, and as expected positioning, prioritization, and clarity are above reproach.
4K Bluray details
Codec: HEVC / H.265 (51.59Mbps)
Resolution: Native 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Aspect ratio: 1.85:1
Original aspect ratio: 1.85:1
English: Dolby Atmos
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 16-bit)
Spanish: DTS 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
French: DTS 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English SDH, French, Spanish
4K Ultra HD
Three-disc set (1 BD-100, 2 BD-50)
4K Blu-ray: Region free
2K Blu-ray: Region free