Oro, Plata, Mata DIGITALLY RESTORED & REMASTERED Special Collector's Edition DVDDirected by Peque Gallaga
Written by Jose Javier Reyes
Starring Manny Ojeda, Liza Lorena, Sandy Andolong, Cherie Gil, Joel Torre, Ronnie Lazaro, Fides Cuyugan-Asension, Maya Valdez, Lorli Villanueva
Total Running Time: 194 minutes
Originally released in 1982 by the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines
I finally picked up a hard-to-find DVD of Oro, Plata, Mata over the last weekend after about 4 years of hearing the buzz about its restoration. This is the digitally restored and remastered special collector's edition of the delightfully-quirky director Peque Gallaga's iconic film, pressed on a dual-layer DVD-9 disc. (Some movies which run for more than 3 hours had to be pressed in two single-sided DVD-5 discs).
I was too young to watch the movie when it was first shown in Manila's theaters in 1982. At that time it was screened for mature audiences only. My parents and older relatives, however, went to see the movie and found themselves instantly "connected" with the storyline about life during World War II, as if they had relived their own ordeal and misery of being constrained to evacuate for their safety and live temporarily in a jungle somewhere in Northern Luzon. As a child, hearing their own stories was how I had become deeply curious about the film.
With the popularity of rental video stores everywhere, I had rented betamax tapes (oh yes, there had to be two tapes to accomodate the long movie in two parts!) and watched Oro
on a CRT TV for the first time in 1983. One thing I didn't appreciate with the betamax version was the very poor quality of video. It was just darn too dark. Plus, there were constant tracking streaks and several distorted sections due to frequent rewinding of the rental tapes. Similar problems plagued the VHS copy of Oro
acquired sometime in the early 1990s.
More than 30 years later, there is a big "wow" in watching the digitally restored and remastered version. On my 4k TV panel, I am now seeing details and colors in the film which I have never seen before. Quite a transition to watch this film for the first time in a full widescreen format (no black bars) compared to the 4:3 format which I had originally seen in the 1980s and 1990s.
For a quick comparison, here are some screenshots from the circa-1990s VHS copy and the restored edition on DVD:
Thankfully, the DVD comes with chapters, audio commentaries and some extras (trailers, story treatment, and fight scenes storyboard). Very rare even for a Filipino-produced DVD.
There are some caveats that I would like to point out about this DVD release. Is this DVD a FULL HD release?
Okay, let's go by the numbers. Full HD provides 1080 lines with progressive scanning (also referred to as 1080p). However, it bears stressing that the highest resolution that the DVD format can support is 720 x 480 pixels per frame for NTSC (or 720 x 576 pixels per frame for PAL), which is at best only 37.5% of the resolution of 720HD (1280 x 720). In other words, the image that I see on my 4k TV panel is only the upscaled video from the 720 x 480 resolution of the DVD format which is its native highest resolution for NTSC.
Technical info about DVD Video: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD-VideoIs the DVD audio remastered in 5.1?
The DVD packaging does not actually indicate the kind of audio mix. While my home theater system indicates the audio output to be of stereo signal, the audio sounds typically monaural to my ears. Take note, I have read that Oro
was screened at the UP Film Center sometime in early 2015 with a new 5.1 mix which was "redone" in a US facility specializing in audio. Perhaps the new 5.1 sound mix came later and didn't make it to the DVD's pressing and release date.Hopefully, ABS-CBN will eventually re-issue this film on bluray to get the FULL HD treatment (meaning, 1080p) with the new 5.1 audio mix.
Even better if they can make this landmark film available in 4k video. I personally prefer to buy the physical bluray disc for my video library than stream a movie from iTunes or from any other streaming service.
Hats off to ABS-CBN Corporation, which has undertaken an admirably ambitious project of saving Filipino film classics, and to the Central Digital Lab with a group of about 16 people who reportedly worked on Oro for 1,700 hours (that's roughly 70.83 days or 2.36 months).