Superman: The Movie marks 40 years with 4K UHD

Christopher Reeve in Superman. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.

Turning actor Christopher Reeve into a star overnight, Superman: The Movie manages to hold up some 40 years following the initial release.

Everyone knows the story of Superman.  His biological parents, Jor-El (Marlon Brando) and Lara (Susannah York), send Kal-El to Earth to avoid the destruction of their native planet.  Kal-El lands in Smallville, Kansas, where he’s adopted by Jonathan (Glenn Ford) and Martha Kent (Phyllis Thaxter).  Adopting the name Clark Kent, he grows up and eventually takes a job as a journalist with the Daily Planet.

While working for editor Perry White (Jackie Cooper), Clark works along side journalist Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) and photographer Jimmy Olsen (Marc McClure).  Careful not to divulge his true identity, he does double duty while fighting arch nemesis Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman).

“I’m here to fight for truth, and justice, and the American way,” Superman tells Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane.

It’s three principles that define the character of Superman.  Lois quickly laughs off the comments because he’ll be in battle with many elected officials.  Think about what the American way represents compared to the behavior of our elected officials!

The three different segments of this film have different looks.  They almost have to because of the different environments in Krypton, Smallville, and Metropolis.  Metropolis sees the bulk of the action on screen.  Despite the takes that have been delivered over the years–even by those involved with the film–this is a very Jewish character.  After all, we’re talking about the creation of Jewish immigrants Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster!

As the story plays out time and time again on the small and big screen, some things don’t change.  One of which is the death of Jonathan Kent.  It’s a meaningful death much like Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben in that both Clark and Peter realize they have a purpose in life.

The casting of Christopher Reeve wasn’t as much of a risk in 1978 as it would be in 2018.  At the time, Reeve had so few screen credits but this film made him a star.  Thanks to the joys of special effects, we believe that the man can fly!

John Williams’ theme song for Superman remains absolutely perfect.  The theme contains a leitmotif that recures throughout the film.  There’s a Star Wars influence in how the opening credits are visualized.  While a review should never focus on awards, this film earned its nominations in Best Film Editing, Best Music (Original Score) and Best Sound.  In addition to the three Oscar nominations, the film received a Special Achievement Academy Award for Visual Effects.  While the effects largely hold up, these were seem as groundbreaking and innovative for the late 1970s.

Forty years after its theatrical release in 1978, Superman: The Movie remains the quintessential Superman film.  Even with the way technology has changed, no other film has come close to the Richard Donner classic.

Ultra HD Blu-ray and Blu-ray Elements

Superman Ultra HD Blu-ray contains the following previously released special feature:

  • Commentary by Pierre Spengler and Ilya Salkind

Superman Blu-ray contains the following previously released special features:

  • Commentary by Pierre Spengler and Ilya Salkind
  • The Making of Superman: The Movie 1978 TV Special
  • Superman and the Mole-Men
  • Cartoons
  • TV Spots and Trailers

DIRECTOR:  Richard Donner
SCREENWRITERS:  Mario Puzo and David Newman and Leslie Newman & Robert Benton
CAST:  Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford, Trevor Howard, Margot Kidder, Valerie Perrine, Maria Schell, Terence Stamp, Phyllis Thaxter, Susannah York

Warner Bros. Pictures opened Superman: The Movie on December 15, 1978.  A 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is now available.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.