Director: Elia Kazan
Cast: James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey
Release Date: August 1, 2023
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 6/10
In the Salinas Valley in and around World War I, Cal Trask feels he must compete against overwhelming odds with his brother Aron for the love of their father Adam. Carl is frustrated at every turn, from his reaction to the war, to how to get ahead in business and in life, to how to relate to his estranged mother.
Please Note: Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray I reviewed in this Post. The opinions I share are my own.
The touching and heartfelt period piece ‘East of Eden’ follows a conflicted young man named Cal Trask (Dean) who struggles to gain the acceptance of his hardworking father over his picture-perfect brother who seems to be the gem of the family since losing their mother many years ago. But when Cal discovers that his mother is still alive and much of what he believed to be true is in fact false, he begins to take steps in order to try and confront his mother after all these years, while also trying to find a way to help his father’s situation and make himself the star son for once, all with the certainty of what would be World War I looming on the horizon which is all but guaranteed to change everything as it becomes official.
The beloved period piece ‘East of Eden’ was directed by Elia Kazan from a screenplay written by Paul Osborn and based on John Steinbeck’s 1952 novel of the same name, and Kazan does a marvelous job at the helm of the film guiding along the powerful and moving coming of age story with heart, care and passion. The film’s noteworthy cast also does a great deal to help excel this one and includes James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey, Burl Ives, Richard Davalos, and Jo Van Fleet who each offer capable and quite memorable performances for the most part in their respective roles and really help the heart of this one to come through so splendidly.
‘East of Eden’ was initially released in 1955 and dazzled audiences with its moving tale of a conflicted young man who is both determined to find happiness and praise within the family he has while also intent on uncovering the roots that have been hidden from him over the years, all playing out just prior to and in the midst of World War I and therefore also exploring the impact of the massive war on everyday folks. It’s an emotional film that benefits from a moving story as well as a talented and well-selected cast that helps it to evolve beyond your typical coming of age period piece and become something quite memorable that still holds up as a cinematic masterpiece nearly seventy years after it first hit theater screens. The breakout role from the talented James Dean who was tragically lost before his filmography could become expansive; ‘East of Eden’ still resonates with the viewer today and tells a memorable story that won’t be easily forgotten anytime soon. If you’ve never had the chance to check out this cinematic gem, I would definitely encourage giving it a shot whenever you can.
As part of Warner Bros’ current year-long centennial celebration, Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment brings home ‘East of Eden’ in 4K at last. The new physical 4K Ultra HD release sports a quite gorgeous new presentation in full Ultra High Definition with HDR-10 which holds up rather well throughout and should look better than ever before. In addition to the notable new UHD presentation, the release also arrives with a new Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack in tow which is certainly somewhat of a rarity to see on titles of this age (although is also far less surprising here considering that Warner also included a Dolby Atmos soundtrack on their 4K UHD release of another memorable James Dean film ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ earlier this year) but should make a welcome addition for those that appreciate such things. As was the case with WB’s 4K release of ‘Rio Bravo’ which was released on the same date as this title, this new 4K release is sadly absent of an included Blu-ray copy as well as all of the previously released extras for the film with the exception of an Audio Commentary. If you’re a fully 4K capable fan of ‘East of Eden’ or James Dean and don’t mind the absence of extras or a BD copy within, then this one shouldn’t disappoint and is recommended for anyone that’s already considering a purchase.
The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of ‘East of Eden’ features a full 2160p Ultra High Definition presentation with HDR-10 presented in its original 2.55:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks rather great as a whole, especially considering the age of the film and its source. It provides a clean, sharp and largely impressive presentation that does see some shifts in quality noticeable from one shot to another on occasion, yet as a whole provides a clean and detailed presentation that shows great clarity and detail on character faces and clothing, along with vehicles, buildings and various outdoor settings which all hold up rather nicely and rarely disappoint. The HDR-10 addition also contributes a nice color palette that delivers some bright, vivid colors noticeable on certain clothing pieces and especially during daytime scenes set outdoors among expansive landscapes. Overall, this is a very nice new Ultra High Definition video presentation that brings this beloved cinematic gem home looking better than ever, while still retaining its filmic look and style.
Somewhat of a rarity for films of this age but mildly less surprising for this one considering the same was done for the 4K UHD release of ‘Rebel Without a Cause’, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release for ‘East of Eden’ features a new Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack provides a clean, sharp and fairly immersive audio presentation throughout that never gets carried away or tries to offer a soundtrack akin to modern action blockbusters or anything like that but does provide a more expansive audio experience than many might expect for a film of this age. It utilizes all seven available channels quite consistently throughout in order to send train and other vehicle noises, along with nature content, crowd/mob chatter and plenty more throughout the various speakers, while never causing any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or negatively affected. Overall, this is an enjoyable and quite decent Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that holds up nicely and should satisfy fans who enjoy noticeable surround elements on whatever they watch.
The 4K Ultra HD release does also include a 2.0 DTS-HD MA Stereo soundtrack for those who aren’t interested in the new Dolby Atmos presentation.
Much like WB’s 4K release of ‘Rio Bravo’ which was released the same day as this title on the format, the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of ‘East of Eden’ includes just one extra in the way of an ‘Audio Commentary by Richard Schickel’.
*Please note: The above images are taken from promotional clips of the film and are not reflective of the actual 4K Ultra HD release or its quality. A standard Blu-ray copy of the film was not included in the release that could be used for screenshots therefore the above images were utilized. All content and images from the film are the property of Warner Bros. Discovery and any other respective owners.
Disc Rating: 6/10
‘East Of Eden’ is Now Available to Own on 4K Ultra HD & Digital from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment
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