Wings (Masters of Cinema) review

A stunning restoration ensures this World War I silent classic soars to new heights in hi-def

Mixing together epic action spectacle and romantic melodrama to tell a story of two World War I fighter pilots in love with the same woman, William Wellman's Wings is in many ways the silent film equivalent of Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor. The difference is that Wellman's film gives us actual characters to root for alongside the astonishing eye-candy – no wonder that it went on to scoop the first ever Academy Award for Best Picture.

Picture: Eureka's AVC 1.33:1 1080p encode draws upon the restoration produced for Paramount's 2012 US release and we couldn't be happier with the results. Print damage is rarely an issue, detailing is exquisite and the colour tinting appears wholly authentic – right down to the digital recreation of the Handschiegel colour process used for the orange flames and bursts of gunfire. It's as close to perfection as you could possibly hope for.
Picture rating 4.5/5

Audio: Some prints of Wings were released into cinemas in 1927 with a synchronised soundtrack that included both J.S. Zamecnik's score and sound effects. As part of the recent restoration process, legendary sound designer Ben (Star Wars) Burtt was hired to oversee and help recreate this effect for a new 5.1 track. The result is marvellous, combining rich musicality with effective directional effects as engine sounds and gunfire move across the soundstage.

If we have one minor concern, it's that the track is presented on Eureka's disc in DTS-HD HR 5.1, as opposed to the DTS-HD MA 5.1 version that appeared on the US release. However, while that Blu-ray could only manage to rustle up a lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 incarnation of Gaylord Carter's alternate organ score, it has been given a boost to LPCM 2.0 by Eureka.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: The disc-based extras are all sourced from Paramount's US release and take the form of a 26-minute retrospective documentary, a 14-minute look at the restoration process and a slightly superfluous 13-minute piece about the evolution of aerial combat. However, Eureka's package also includes another of its fantastically informative booklets, containing essays about the film and an interview with director William Wellman.
Extras rating: 3/5

We say: This award-winning silent film takes flight on Blu-ray courtesy of an astonishing AV restoration

Wings, Eureka! The Masters of Cinema, Region B BD/R2 DVD, £23 Approx