DVD Reviews - Dances With Wolves

      Date posted: December 31, 1969

Dances with Wolves
Kevin Costner, director; Orion Home Video/Image Entertainment;
Anamorphic 2.35:1 Widescreen; THX Mastered; English Dolby Digital
5.1; 181 Minutes

      It is very much to Kevin Costner’s credit that he could take a story without much story line to it, and make it into a long and lyrical film that sustains interest. It does so because of a combination of visual beauty, human drama on an epic scale (the survival of a race of people), and an individual love story. Strong performances by Graham Greene and Mary McDonnell, as Indian chief and love interest, respectively, hold one’s interest and build sympathy for the Sioux and their way of life, in which McDonnell has grown up, though a white. She is called “Stands With A Fist” for her response to childhood bullying.

      The gorgeous widescreen picture in Dances With Wolves is complemented by a beautifully atmospheric soundtrack and a very good score written by veteran film composer John Barry. I didn’t expect to watch the whole film at one sitting, but did, and enjoyed it once again. The Buffalo hunt sequence puts us in the middle of the herd of stampeded bison, their thundering hooves all around us. Other quieter parts of the movie give us the subtle sounds of the prairies as Costner’s character, John Dunbar, learns to live and survive alone before befriending the Indians and Stands With A Fist.

      I’m not sure exactly what’s involved in THX mastering, but picture and sound quality must be a major part, and here they are very high, the transfer also said on the jacket to be “enhanced for 16:9 screens”.This is probably a reference to the anamorphic widescreen technique’s utilization of the maximum number of pixels for the highest picture resolution possible in the DVD format.

      Dances won 7 Oscars, including Best Picture, and is certainly its director’s best effort. While Waterworld set a standard for spending that only James Cameron could surpass, and though it works well in the DVD format, it’s just an adventure flick that’s sustained by special effects. And I’m still screwing up my courage to rent The Postman. Perhaps over the the next month I’ll actually go postal, so to speak. But I suspect that the one movie of the three that I’ll come back to most will be Dances With Wolves.

Andrew Marshall

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