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The Criterion Collection
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 171 Minutes
Starring: Sean Penn, Adrien Brody, Jim Caviezel, Ben Chaplin, George Clooney, John Cusack, Woody Harrelson, Elias Koteas, Nick Nolte, John C. Reilly
Screenplay by: Terrence Malick
Directed by: Terrence Malick
Retail Price: $39.95
Features: Audio Commentary with Cinematographer John Toll, Production Designer Jack Fisk and producer Grant Hill, Theatrical Trailer, Actors, Interview with Casting Director Dianne Crittenden, Editing, Music, Interviews, Outtakes, World War II Newsreels, Melanesian Chants
Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, Chapter Selection (11 Chapters)
Released: September 28th, 2010
Terrence Malick is notoriously private, and thus he's not an overt presence in this package. Still, there's a lot to go around here that gives nice glimpses into the film's production and overall vision. The first disc features the Theatrical Trailer, as well as an Audio Commentary with Cinematographer John Toll, Production Designer Jack Fisk and producer Grant Hill. Their comments range on the more techical side. There are production stories, but the track goes into staging the battles, accomplishing key visuals and the hard work of the crew. Cinephiles will probably appreciate this track the most.
The second disc features Actors, which interviews some main players of the cast. They discuss how they came into the production (and in some cases, which parts they originally read for), rehearsing and working with Malick. Casting features casting director Dianne Crittenden, as she talks about how she went about casting such a large ensemble. It's pretty fascinating, not just from the perspective of the movie, but her process in general (how many other DVDs have had supplements devoted to casting? I can't think of any off the top of my head). I won't ruin it, but there's audition footage too — including some actors that didn't make it into the film, but have had — or already had — respectable careers of their own.
Also fascinating is the Editors interview, featuring the trio who cut the movie: Leslie Jones, Saar Klein and Billy Weber. A collective portrait in how the film was shaped is pretty remarkable, given how they worked with Malick who could be a little unorthodox. Music has an interview with composer Hans Zimmer, who talks about his work on the movie. In another interview, James Jones's daughter talks about her father and his background, over a bevy of stills.
The Outtakes are actually eight deleted scenes, and the strands that were cut are worth watching at least once. There's about 15 minutes worth of World War II Newsreels featuring the Guadalcanal conflicts, so it provides a small way to compare and contrast the historical background of the movie. There's also Melanesian Chants played over production stills.
Finally, inside the package is your usual Criterion Booklet, featuring an essay by film critic David Sterritt and a 1963 Saturday Evening Post essay by James Jones — one that could be considered a bit ironic.
(Do note a Blu-ray version is also available.)