Dances With Wolves: Special Edition
For many actors and filmmakers whose successful careers seem to indicate that the sale of souls to the Devil is indeed a common practice in Hollywood, there are moments of such pure brilliance in their body of work that it almost defies belief. For Kevin Costner, that moment was his 1989 directorial debut, Dances With Wolves. It is a film that, over the years, has been overshadowed by many of Costner's inferior efforts like The Postman, not to mention its 1990 triumph over Martin Scorsese's superior Goodfellas for Best Picture. It's worthy of the conceit that, while it may not have been the best film of the year, it certainly comes close. Costner stars as John Dunbar, a lieutenant in United States Army during the Civil War who has lost the will to live. While trying to commit suicide in the heat of battle, Dunbar inadvertently becomes a hero; as his reward, he is given the assignment of his choosing. Dunbar requests a posting somewhere on the frontier, which he wants to see "before it's gone." Posted at the remote Fort Sedgewick, Dunbar encounters his first Indian, a Lakota Sioux he will later come to know as Kicking Bird (Graham Greene). For the naturally curious soldier, Kicking Bird and the rest of his tribe are an enigmatic mystery. But as he gets to know them better, the great mystery that begins to unfold is not what these Indians are all about, but what is John Dunbar all about? And as he spends more and more time with the tribe, he has an emotional and spiritual awakening within himself. In its original theatrical release, Dances With Wolves weighed in at a hefty three hours; when it aired on network television for the first time, it included nearly an hour of additional footage. This footage, included as part of MGM's special edition DVD, is what elevates the film from being really good to a work of genius. We learn more about Dunbar's initial reluctance to join the Lakota, and the additional scenes help distance Wolves from movies that are the wet dreams of guilt-ridden white liberals who long to feel better about past misdeeds. MGM's two-disc Dances With Wolves: Special Edition features a beautiful anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) that captures the beauty of Dean Semler's breathtaking cinematography. Of the seven Oscars the film won, Semler's is the most richly deserved. Audio comes in Dolby Digital 5.1. Supplements include two commentaries, one with Costner and producer Jim Wilson, the other with Semler and editor Neil Travis, six new featurettes, the original 1990 featurette, a photo montage, a poster gallery, TV spots and trailers, and a music video featuring the work of composer John Barry. Dual-DVD digipak with paperboard slipcase.