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Braveheart
Special Collector's Edition

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: R (For Brutal Medieval Warfare)

Running Time: 177 Minutes

Starring: Mel Gibson, Sophie Marceau, Patrick McGoohan, Catherine McCormack

Written by: Randall Wallace

Directed by: Mel Gibson

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $19.99

Features: Audio Commentary with Director Mel Gibson, A Writer's Journey, Alba Gu Brath! The Making Of Braveheart, Tales Of William Wallace, Archival Interviews, Photo Montage, Theatrical Trailers

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Surround, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection (22 Scenes)

Released: December 18th, 2007

 

 

For this re-release, "Braveheart" has supposedly been digitally re-mastered, but I feel the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer looks pretty similar to the original 2000 DVD release. The transfer is flawed: the print isn't too clean (there are plenty of blemishes and dirt), edge enhancement is noticable, edge halos appear in full force and mosquito noise is pretty constant. Things do look a bit murky and grainy too, and overall the transfer looks to be on the soft side.

Still, like the first release, there's also plenty to like: rich color saturation, excellent detail and fleshtones that look pretty accurate. Blacks are deep, too.  It's not a bad transfer, but fans hoping for a major improvement in quality from last time are out of luck here.

 

Staying the same from the first release is the English Dolby Digital 5.1 track. This is a pretty splendid track, with fantastic use of surrounds. The action sequences put you into the thick of things: screams, swords swinging and slashing... it's a pretty visceral experience. Even smaller surrounds, like rocks being thrown, sound discrete. Subwoofer use is pretty powerful, and dialogue is clear and easy to hear. James Horner's lovely score is also mixed well throughout the channels, and everything comes together perfectly, as no one sound element overpowers the others.

A 5.1 track is also included in French, and there's a Dolby Surround track in Spanish. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish are on the disc too, as well as English closed captions. 

 



If you love extras, then you'll probably want to upgrade. First off though is a holdover from the 2000 disc: an Audio Commentary with Director Mel Gibson. I believe this was the first commentary he ever recorded, and for what it is, it's not too bad. Still, perhaps Gibson should have been joined by others, since he makes frequent pauses during the near-3 hour film. Some of Gibson's comments are not so insightful ("That girl was four years old at the time, and she is pretty. Good performance too."), but Gibson seems happy to talk about the film, and most of what he says is pretty interesting. If you can manage the gaps and are a fan of the movie, you may want to give this one a spin.

The rest of the supplements are on the second disc. The centerpiece is definitely Alba Gu Brath! The Making Of Braveheart. Lasting about 50 minutes and divided into three sections (Reviving A Genre, The Heat Of Battle, Worth The Fight), the major players discuss the origins of the movie, the shaping of the scrpt, its production, the stunts, James Horner's score and much more. Mel Gibson actually contributes new interviews, but the other talent is pretty much represented from old footage, namely producers Alan Ladd Jr. and Bruce Davey. All these years later, Gibson is still passionate about the movie and its production. There's plenty that is shown too through some great archival footage, namely behind-the-scenes footage of Gibson at work on the set, and going over the editing with editor Steven Rosenblum. Much better than Gibson's commentary, this is a comprehensive look at the movie that is cleverly edited. Fans of the film should certainly enjoy this piece.

Lasting a bit over twenty-one minutes is A Writer's Journey. This is a very fascinating featurette, where we learn that screenwrtier Randall Wallace's initial inspiration was traveling to Scotland to research his own family history, and discovering William Wallace. From there, Wallace candidly talks about his initial meeting with Mel Gibson, Wallace's own writing process, the research he undertook and the film's themes and messages. Wallace is a great speaker, and this piece is very engrossing. Fans of the film might be interested, but for all you writers, this is a mandatory watch that has a lot of tidbits about one man's approach to the craft, as well as his approach to crafting such a memorable screenplay.

Tales Of William Wallace is a half-hour piece that combines tidbits about the real William Wallace, the legend surrounding him and comparing and contrasting that to the film. In addition to clips from the film to highlight points, interviews with the filmmakers are shown as well as key locations where Wallace supposedly made marks on history. This is an interesting history lesson with an interesting approach, and it definitely warrants a watch for those who want to know some accuracies the film contains, and what is known about the actual William Wallace.

Rounding out the set are Archival Interviews with the cast, a Photo Montage and two Theatrical Trailers.

 

"Braveheart" is one of the great contemporary epics,