A Few Words About A few words about...™ Dances with Wolves -- in Blu-ray

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    No doubt about it. Dances with Wolves is a brilliantly made film.

    And having this film on Blu-ray should be a major event, even if the version, which is one that I personally prefer, may not be the version considered the Academy Award winning Best Picture of 1990. I presume that the shorter version would hold all award honors. But that's historical minutia.

    No need to go into the glorious reviews or background, Dances with Wolves is one of the finest western dramas to come out of Hollywood in the past century. It's a film that I treasure.

    Color, densities, black levels and everything that make up a quality image all seem to be in place. What I'm not getting is resolution, and I'm not certain why. The element transferred may have been an interpositive, but I'm not certain, as I didn't watch the entire film. Detail in backgrounds is virtually non-existent, along with a lack of highly resolved grain levels. There is also slight haloing of the image, as well as a lack of steadiness, a veritable trademark of an image newly harvested on high end hardware. My assumption is that is not a recent image harvest. I'm not privy to when this transfer was created, whether it began as an HD master or 2 or 4k data.

    I'm also not certain whether part of the problem may stem from 234 minutes of image plus audio on a BD-50, but there are folks out there better attuned to the mechanics of the situation that can report on this far better than I.

    I was looking forward to see what DwW would look like in a new quality transfer, and although for the most part the image is quite good, there is nothing that jumps out as representative of a modern HD transfer. There is no "wow" factor, and for a film of this importance, there should be.

    For those with average size screens, inclusive of projection, the disc should be fine. Others may find it lacking.

    It troubles me to report that while the film is extraordinary in all regards, the Blu-ray is not.

    It is however, very good.

    Both the film and Mr. Semler's wonderful cinematography both deserve better.

    RAH
     
  2. Guest

    The colors are not how I remember them either. I remember the film leaning toward a warmer palette. The grass on the new version has a bluish tint to it, and the overall picture is colder. I remember the South Dakota landscape having a golden hue and the faces very saturated. However, that was 20 years ago so maybe I am remembering wrong.
     
  3. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    I picked this up using the $5-off coupon from MGM. This being one of my favorite Hollywood Westerns, I probably would have purchased the Blu-ray regardless, but I'm a little disappointed that the PQ isn't as perfect as it could have been. I'd say it's probably still worth the upgrade for those of us who are hard-core fans of the film. The beautiful landscape photography is just what Blu-ray was made for. The 7.1 DTS Master Audio has a bit less low end than the 2-channel Dolby Surround LPCM soundtrack from the Laserdisc.
     
  4. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    While I really like the extended version (I was surprised Costner apparently had nothing to do with this version), the theatrical just hits on all cylinders and is paced to perfection IMHO. The U.K. Blu-ray from WB is probably the way to go to have both versions on the shelf, inexpensively and in decent HD quality.

    I saw the U.K. theatrical Blu in December and just this week saw the MGM/Fox extended version. While neither had the HD snap of Braveheart or other top-tier catalog titles, it looked quite good and the MGM/Fox extended was a bit less filtered than the UK theatrical. On a 92in screen FP set-up both were very enjoyable, with again an edge going out to the new offering. While it could have been better, I did not find the image lacking at this size. One recent catalog title where I think a lack in detail may be a concern would be Once Upon A Time In America, but I'm sure that will be a different discussion in another thread. Just my $.02. Thanks again to RAH for the observations and comments!
     
  5. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    Felix, thanks for linking to that article. I've been under the distinct impression that Dances with Wolves was truncated by the studio for its theatrical release, and figured that the extended version was therefore Costner's preferred version. But that's pretty clearly not the case, based on Costner's quotes in that article. Really useful info. Thanks again.
     
  6. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    You're welcome, Carl, it was surprising to me too...which begs the Q: who put the thing together??
     
  7. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    I think you are misreading what is meant by the EW article. He says he didn't work on the longer cut, but that doesn't necessarily mean he disapproves of it. In fact the extended cut on DVD had this note signed by Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson on the slipcover:

    Upon the release of the four-hour Dances With Wolves, the question naturally arises: why? Why add another hour to a film that by most standards pushes the time limit of conventional movie making?
    We opted to produce an extended version of Dances With Wolves for several reasons. The 52 additional minutes that represent this "new" version were difficult to cut in the first place...the opportunity to introduce them to audiences is compelling.
    We have received countless letters from people worldwide asking when or if a sequel would be made, so it seemed like a logical step to enhance our film with existing footage. Virtually every character is richer, from the teamster, Timmons, to the tribal chief, Ten Bears.
    Making an extended version is by no means to imply that the original Dances With Wolves was unfinished or incomplete; rather, it creates an opportunity for those who fell in love with the characters and the spectacle of the film to experience more of both.
    We hope you enjoy it.

    It sounds to me like Costner has given his blessing to both versions regardless of whether or not he personally assembled the longer cut.
     
  8. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    I remember seeing an interview with Coster about this. As I recall he said the studio demanded that he deliver a film at under 3 hours so he cut it to 3 hours exactly (without the Orion title cards) and the reason it runs 3 hours and 1 minute is from tacking on the Orion credits. I also recall an interview where he said he wished he had pushed harder for Orion to allow him a longer cut.



     
  9. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Screenwriter

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    When I said he had nothing to do with the extended version I didn't mean that he disowned it, only that he apparently didn't work on it it - which was a surprise (to me, anyway).
     
  10. cafink

    cafink Producer

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    It's interesting; this seems to conflict with his assertion that "I release the versions I want" (from the EW article). I don't suppose you remember where you saw this interview? I'd be interested in hearing more on the subject from Costner himself.
     
  11. Mark-P

    Mark-P Producer

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    Oh it was a TV interview way back in the 90s around the time the extended cut was first coming out on laserdisc. As for Costner releasing the versions he wants, you've got to remember that while filming Dances With Wolves, he didn't have the clout that he had AFTER the film earned 7 Oscars including one for best director.

    Quote:

     
  12. qwho51

    qwho51 Auditioning

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    Thanks for the review.
    I found your comments thought provoking and somewhat in line with other reviews:
    http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/585/danceswithwolves.html
     
  13. Brandon Conway

    Brandon Conway captveg

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    He says as much on the commentary, but he's not necessarily against the longer cut, either. He considers it an interesting alternative, but not as focused in the narrative (and I agree, though for this film spending more time with the characters is a personal joy). There are specific scenes in the extended cut that make it worth it, specifically the small bit after the river massacre with Dunbar preventing the scalping of a particular soldier.
     
  14. FoxyMulder

    FoxyMulder 映画ファン

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    I seem to recall reading somewhere that they were using an older master for this release, the German Kino version looks to be taken from the same master but the colours look better to me, i was looking forward to this release but frankly i don't want to spend my money on this version, i loved this film so much that i saw it three times in quick succession at the cinema and spent money on various VHS widescreen and DVD editions.

    I feel they could have got Costner personally involved and made a more modern film scan and a better release using seamless branching to give viewers BOTH editions of the film on the disc, no effort from them to do this means no effort from me to buy it.
     
  15. SteveSs

    SteveSs Stunt Coordinator

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    Being my wife's favorite film, and finding it for cheap, I picked up this blu-ray for Xmas. I completely agree about the run-time. The more condensed (if you can call a 3-hour movie that) version seems to flow so much better. It's too bad it was not offered on the disc. I have to comment on the other debates, however. My 80-inch projected picture was absolutely gorgeous. The colors seemed totally natural. I only noticed a couple instances where resolution was slightly degraded. I'm projecting with a 7-year-old low-end Sanyo 1080P machine, not professionally calibrated in any way. Why was my experience seemingly different from everyone else? I've been at this hobby for years, and feel as though I'm a pretty good judge of what I see. Is it that my 80 inches is just not big enough to emphasize the flaws?
     

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