Drama / Reviews

Dances with Wolves (1990) Blu-Ray

When John Dunbar is posted to a fort on the frontier, he finds more than he bargained for when he makes contact with the Native Americans upon whose land he’s encroaching.

Dances with Wolves is a modern American classic.  Winner of 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, it is a tour de force of brilliant film-making.  It is also # 75 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Movies list.

Kevin Costner stars and directs this beautiful, heartfelt tale of a man on the frontier.  Deployed to Fort Sedgewick, the western most fort of the Union during the Civil War, he finds it abandoned.  What follows is his encounter with the Sioux Native Americans and a man discovering that his life was empty prior to these moments.

Everything about this film is brilliant.  Kevin Costner is absolutely electrifying as John Dunbar, aka Dances with Wolves.  The passion he had for this project is evident in every frame that he is in.  Mary McDonnell also gives a riveting performance as Stands with a Fist, a white woman adopted by the Sioux.  All of the Native American actors in this film bring an authenticity that you rarely find in a western.  They are not cookie cutter characters but fully developed that gives you the impression that they are real people, not actors portraying someone else.

Visually, this movie is a treat.  The sweeping vistas of North Dakota are sparse, rolling grasslands with isolated oases of trees and pools of water.  Beautifully filmed, there is nary a frame in the film that isn’t gorgeous to look at.  A feast for the eyes.  The transfer on this blu-ray is very well done.  There are certain scenes where it shows it’s age, but that does not detract from the film at all.  It is a little jarring, though, when some scenes look as if they were filmed yesterday.

The audio is also very well done.  This is a mostly quiet film, but there is significant separation in the channels on a 5.1 system.  When you mix the surround sound with the stirring musical score by John Barry, you get an aural treat.  Make no mistake, this is an amazing musical score and wonderful to hear in a modern surround sound system.

There are a plethora of special features in this 2 disc set.  There are 2 separate commentary tracks on disc 1.  Disc 2 is a special features disc including a documentary on life on the prairie, a retrospective documentary filmed in 2002, the original 1990 making of featurette, trailers, stills and more.

Overall, this is a great package of a great movie.  The special features are all well done and the transfer is very decent.  There really is no reason to not watch this film if you haven’t seen it already.  I purposefully avoid spoilers in my reviews so I cannot talk about the plot more than I have.  Just know that this is one of the greatest films ever made.

Blu-Ray ***1/2 out of ****

Movie **** out of ****

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