Blu-ray Review: BEHOLD A PALE HORSE

BEHOLD A PALE HORSE is based on the novel ‘Killing a Mouse on Sunday’ by Emeric Pressburger. The movie was directed by Fred Zinnemann from a screenplay by J.P. Miller and stars Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif, Mildred Dunnock, Raymond Pellegrin and Paolo Stoppa. The score by Maurice Jarre.

From producer/director Fred Zinnemann comes Behold a Pale Horse (1964), a somber yet harrowingly suspenseful thriller of personal conviction in the face of political repression, set against the backdrop of the dark decades following the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War. In charismatic and charged performances, Gregory Peck plays an exiled guerrilla fighter, Anthony Quinn is the dogged police chief who lays a trap to catch him, and Omar Sharif portrays a priest who intervenes to prevent the antagonists’ inevitable confrontation. Starkly photographed on French locations by Jean Badal, and powerfully scored by three-time Academy Award® winner Maurice Jarre.

Behold a Pale Horse takes place twenty years after the Spanish Civil War. The story follows former rebel fighter Manuel Artiguez (Gregory Peck) who’s now living a quiet life in hiding. What happens is, Young Paco (Carlo Angeletti) crosses the border and risks everything to seek out Manuel to help him get revenge for the murder of his father. Captain Viñolas (Anthony Quinn) is the man responsible for the crime that took place twenty years ago.

Paco finally meets Manuel who’s hesitant in the beginning because he left the war behind him so many years earlier and doesn’t want any part of it anymore. The thing is, certain actions by Viñolas ends up drawing out the retired Manuel who becomes hellbent on finding the opposing Captain and killing him. The thing is, Manuel knows he’s going into this resurrected battle where he’s heavily outnumbered by men and weapons but it’s almost like he knows this is going to be a one way trip with no way out.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, an image, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features an image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inside is a booklet from Twilight Time that includes more images from the movie, some nice words about Behold a Pale Horse by Julie Kirgo and more original artwork on the front and back. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. There’s little grain in a few of the darker scenes but that’s about it. I didn’t have any major issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Behold a Pale Horse is another movie I’ve heard about over the years mostly because of its haunting title and ended up being another first time watch for me. Some movie will grab you with its title alone and this is one of them. It’s a war time period piece set after the Spanish Civil War about revenge as well as redemption. There’s two sides to the story so it’s up to the viewer’s interpretation of who wins in the end. The hero or the villain? That’s how I see it. The story was interesting but the movie is a slow burn that depends heavily on its main characters to move things along. Something else that stood out to me were the actors because we have Gregory Peck, Anthony Quinn, Omar Sharif all in one movie. That’s a major casting win for a war drama like this. The biggest gripe I had was the long run time because it does get really slow at times and is hard to follow at times but I’m still glad I finally got the opportunity to watch this 1964 classic. Behold a Pale Horse is now available on Blu-ray and has a limited edition run of 3,000 units.

Distributor: Twilight Time

Run Time: 121 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Widescreen (1.85:1) / B&W / Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The only extra on the Blu-ray is the original theatrical trailer (01:58).

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