THE FORBIN PROJECT 
Colossus - The Forbin Project 
Region: 2 (UK, Europe, Japan, South Africa and Middle East)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Fabulous Films Ltd.
DVD Release Date: 26 May 2008
Run Time: 95 minutes
before HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey,
Colossus – the Forbin Project features the ultimate “computer gone
mad”, namely an artificial intelligent so large that it takes the inside
of an entire mountain! The aptly-named “Colossus” is entrusted with taking
over the United States’ nuclear defense system. This of course turns out
to be a mistake as the machine soon rebels against his human makers and
turns the tables on them.
THE DISC: Even though it is a minor sci-fi cult
classic of sorts, this is actually the first decent widescreen DVD release
of this title on DVD. Thus far the movie has been only available as a
cropped pan ‘n’ scan region 1 (U.S. & Canada-only) DVD which was released
in 2004. This new DVD unfortunately is a region 2 release and with no word
as yet on a U.S. release fans in the States will probably have to import
it from the U.K. Or they can stick to the old pan ‘n’ scan version.
But why bother? Not only is the widescreen version
infinitely better, but this new release boasts some bonus extras such as a
commentary track by film director Joseph Sargent, a stills gallery and
original publicity materials, none of which are to be found on the region
1 release. In fact the region 1 disc was such a bare bones affair that it
didn’t even have a menu
— the movie simply started
playing when you insert the disc!
You might argue that such
a talky and intimate drama would benefit from the pan ‘n’ scan process,
but a shot-by-shot comparison reveals the obvious: the widescreen aspect
ratio is to be preferred. The 2:35 widescreen preserves director Sargent’s
compositions and his attempts to present the stage-y material in a more
visually interesting manner. The same source print seems to be used for
this DVD (all the minor celluloid scratches appear identical) but this is
still the version to get. The PAL color also seems more vibrant and alive.
director’s commentary by Sargent is filled with a lot of silent patches
and his talk tends to be on the generalist side.
WORTH IT? Oh yes.
Although its fashions and politics are out-of-date today with the Cold War
long over and computers no longer taking up entire mountainsides,
Colossus – the Forbin Project still makes
for essential and intelligent viewing for hard SF viewers. It also raises
some interesting questions about humanity, freedom and the like. In
retrospect it also turned out to be a huge influence on the 1980s Matthew
Broderick flick WarGames. (Note the link to
buy below is for the region 1 disc and not the disc featured in this