Samuel Bronston's Epic "55 Days at Peking" on BluRay –
it is really stunning!
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The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Gerhard Witte, Berlin
the left the French Blu-Ray Edition (Studio: Filmédia) of the movie "55 Days
at Peking" (Les 55 Jours de Pékin, USA, 1963) and on the right the
U.K.-Version (Anchor Bay Entertainment).
I have never seen the movie in such a quality – with razor sharp images,
superb contrast levels and impressive colors. The Blu-Ray is highly
recommended. It is the Roadshow Version of the movie with Overture,
Intermisson (Entr`acte) and Playout Music ("So little Time" sung by Andy
video which gives some information about the Blu-Ray:
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Technirama on Wheels
The French Version
the new Blu-Ray Edition the movie had been restored from the original 8 perf
Super Technirama 70 camera negative
The French Blu-Ray contains a plethora of extras (nearly all in French
language and subtitles). Detailed information:
• "Nicholas Ray's gallant last stand " (47:00 minutes) by film historian
Christophe Champclaux: Back on the movie`s production conditions and the
filming. It was a great success at the time of its release but is
underestimated by moviegoers.
• "The Boxer Rebellion" (12: 44 minutes) by Christophe Champclaux: What
exactly was the Boxer Rebellion? What are the differences between the
historical reality and Nicholas Ray´s film?
• "The Boxers in Films" (6:08 minutes) by Christophe Champclaux: "55 Days at
Peking" was not the first movie about the Boxer Rebellion.
• "Ava Gardner Portrait" (19:21 minutes) by film historian Linda Tahir
Meriau: A look at the career of an unforgettable actress - "The Barefoot
• "Stories about China" (37:30 minutes): The filmmaker Olivier Assayas and
the Chief Editor of the film magazine "Cahiers du Cinéma" Charles Tesson
share their visions of "55 Days at Peking".
• The film's restoration (10:53 minutes)
• Trailer (3:20 minutes)
• Interviews (in English) recorded during the filming at the time (23:41
minutes) – Mr. Heston (5:53), Mrs. Heston (5:57), Mr. David Niven (5:31) and
Mr. John Moore (Set Decorator and Costume Designer of the movie) (7:00)
This Blu-Ray movie version has a running time of 162 minutes, including
Overture, Intermission (Entr`acte) and Playout Music. It is presented in its
original aspect ratio of approximately 2.20:1 and is Code Free (1080P
Dual-layered / Source: DVDBeaver). It has 12 chapters and removable only
• Dolby Digital Audio French 2.0
• DTS-HD Master Audio English 2.0 Stereo
• DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1 (really impressive)
Read the test of the Blu-Ray from
The U.K. Version
this Blu-Ray is the identical restored movie version as on the French, but
only one extra is available: The film's restoration (10:53 minutes). It also
has 12 chapters and a running time of 162 minutes. No subtitles.
Available languages (only English):
• Audio 2.0 Stereo (DTS-HD Master ? no information)
• DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Concerning the Blu-Ray's content information you can read on the Blu-Ray
covers, they are unfortunately both not correct.
• French Version : USA 1964 (1963 would be correct) / Dureé 145 min /
• U.K. Version: Feature Running Time 166 min approx. / Aspect Ratio 16:9
Here is the impressive
theme song of the movie sung by the Botho-Lucas-Chor.
wonderful poster art - most likely designed by Reynold Brown (image from the
The movie had its Royal World Premiere in the presence of His Royal
Highness, the Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh, on the 06th May 1963 at the
London Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road.
"55 Days at Peking" recounts the infamous 1900 siege of foreign
diplomatic compounds (11 nations) in Peking by zealous Boxer
revolutionaries, whose violent and bloody actions against foreign
interlopers (who planned to exploit China's rich resources for their own
ends) had the tacit approval of the Chinese Royal Household. Art directors
Veniero Colasanti and John Moore reconstructed turn-of-the-century Peking on
a massive lot (60 acre / around 243.000 square metres) not far from Madrid
(Spain). Hundreds of Chinese extras were flown from Hong Kong to equip the
thousands of Spanish employed to portray the Boxer hordes. They used real
gold leaf on the furniture and the trim of the Imperial Palace.
The film's nominal director, Nicholas Ray, fell ill by a heart attack during
shooting in September 1962. When it was apparent that he could not return to
work, producer Samuel Bronston brought in Guy Green to replace Ray, but
Green shot only a few scenes before he in turn was replaced by the renowned
Andrew Marton. Marton had been engaged (director: second-unit operations) to
stage the film's ferocious battle scenes and was now promoted to complete
principle filming. Neither Marton nor Green ever received any official
credit for their work. (Sources: Amongst others, the booklets of the score
CDs from Cloud Nine Records and La-La Land Records)
is a huge premiere advert of the movie in Hamburg (Germany)
"55 Days at Peking" at the "Ufa-Palast am Gänsemarkt" on 20 September 1963
where it subsequently ran until 07 November 1963 – in 70mm Super Technirama
In this advert is written:
"A hot breath of thrilling adventure features this super color production. A
55 days lasting battle of a handful of people from 11 nations against the
10,000-fold superiority of the boxers, the fanatical, xenophobic Chinese.
Finally they triumphed over hate and violence. Midst of the intensive fights
comes alive the love of a mysterious woman. Director Nicholas Ray has
produced a masterpiece of real adventure."
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