Braveheart (1995) - Special Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Action / Biographical / Drama / Romance / War
Paramount || R - 177 minutes - $19.99 || December 18, 2007
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2008-01-08


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Mel Gibson
Writer(s): Randall Wallace (written by)
Cast: Mel Gibson, Brian Cox, Patrick McGoohan, Sophie Marceau, Angus Macfadyen, Catherine McCormack, Brendan Gleeson


Theatrical Release Date: May 24, 1995


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director's Commentary
  • A Writer's Journey
  • Alba Gu Brath!
  • Interviews
  • Photo Montage
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
  • Subtitles: English

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.::THE FILM::.

"Actor turned director" is a phrase that audiences have grown more and more accustomed to over the past several years. Of course, people like Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Woody Allen and John Cassavetes all proved that they had the ability to be successful in front of the camera as well as behind it. We've also seen several more recent superstar actors turned directors with Clint Eastwood, Robert Redford and Denzel Washington being among the better ones. Kevin Costner also showed that he had talent in making Dances With Wolves and Open Range but unfortunately he is also responsible for Waterworld and The Postman. Other actors like George Clooney and Ben Affleck have also had recent success in directing films. With the exception of Clint Eastwood, I believe that Mel Gibson is easily the best of the actor turned directors in the past 15 years. While Redford and Washington showed that they are very good at directing dramas, Gibson and Eastwood prove that they can do drama as well as period films with intense action sequences.

Back when Mel Gibson was set to direct Braveheart in the early 90's, the only film he had under his belt was The Man Without a Face. While I actually believe that it is quite an underrated film, it is not a film that screams out that Mel Gibson is a great director. It is simply a "good" but ultimately forgettable film. Nonetheless, Gibson made his transition from drama to period epic very well only 2 years later with Braveheart.

Upon its initial release, Braveheart was received well by most critics but audiences didn't really run out in packs to see the film. The film only managed $75 million at the box office, which is good but considering how big a draw Gibson was in 1995 along with the fact that is was a big Memorial Day release, the total gross had to have been below studio expectations for Paramount. That being said, the film was honored with 5 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director for Mel Gibson. The film then went on to build a great following in its video sales and a few years later on DVD. Over the past 12 years, Braveheart has held up well and is still remembered as easily one of the best epic films of the past 20 years.

Gibson does an amazing job in directing the film. He uses several techniques that directors have borrowed and replicated since the film's release in 1995. Gibson puts the camera in the center of the battle and makes the viewer feel as if they are right there in the middle of the action. The camera jerks as well as the editing style of the film were very influential over the past decade. I believe that Steven Spielberg has even admitted that he used some of Gibson's techniques in his filming of Saving Private Ryan. Ridley Scott also uses some of Gibson's camera jerks in the opening battle scene of Gladiator. Gibson also proved that he still had the ability to direct with The Passion of the Christ and Apocalypto. He once again proved that he has a strong sense of directing the brutality of violence but also balancing it with great scenery and camera movement.

I also believe that Mel Gibson does a fine job in the role of lead actor in the film as well. While it is at first hard to believe Mel Gibson as a Scot, as the film progresses, Gibson gets more and more comfortable in the role of William Wallace. What really carries the film are the amazing performances by the supporting cast. Patrick McGoohan gives perhaps one of the most underrated performances in recent history as King Edward I or Longshanks as he is also known. Also turning in great performances are Brian Cox, Brendan Gleeson, Sophie Marceau, Angus Macfadyen, Catherine McCormack, David O'Hara, Ryan Brearley and the great Ian Bannen just to name a few.

Of course what makes the film so memorable is the great screenplay from Randall Wallace. While many have criticized the film for taking some liberties in terms of the actual events William Wallace took part in, as a film, one must admit that Braveheart is incredibly dramatic and adds greatly to the myth of what William Wallace did for Scotland. Still, 12 years later, Braveheart remains an incredible achievement for Mel Gibson.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The first disc of the 2 Disc Collector's Edition has only one extra and that is a commentary by Mel Gibson. Gibson does not record a new commentary track and as a result, Paramount simply provides the same track that was in the initial Braveheart DVD release back in 2000. Gibson's commentary is actually quite entertaining as he provides plenty of information regarding the film over the 3 hour running time. Gibson is also not afraid of letting the viewers know what techniques he used in terms of film speed, editing and camera techniques. Gibson also mentions director George Miller (Mad Max) and Peter Weir as big influences in learning how to direct films.

A Writer's Journey is the first extra on the second disc of the collector's edition. This is a 21 minute look at how Randall Wallace got the idea for writing the film as well as why he felt that Gibson was the right person to tell the story of William Wallace.

Alba Gu Brath! is a documentary that discusses the making of the film. It is split up into three parts: "Reviving a Genre," "The Heat of the Battle" and "Worth the Fight." Virtually all aspects of the film are discussed in the 50 minute documentary. I found the scenes where Gibson and editor Steven Rosenblum to be the most interesting parts of the documentary.

The DVD also has 14 minutes worth of archival interviews with cast members including Patrick McGoohan, Sophie Marceau and Brendan Gleeson. Each actor discusses how their character contributes the film.

Finally, the collector's edition DVD includes a 6 minute Photo Montage and 2 theatrical trailers.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

I must say that Paramount did a good job in restoring Braveheart from the initial 2000 transfer. The film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and the image comes off as very clean. The beautiful colors of the Scottish landscape look breathtaking and the battle scenes look as good as ever.

The audio work on the new DVD is also very good. The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround with an option for the same track in French as well as a Spanish 2.0 track. James Horner's incredible score comes off very well and once again, the action scenes are highlighted very well with the 5.1 track.



.::OVERALL::.

Paramount seems to have done a nice job in putting together a nice package in its second release of the Braveheart. Many studios put together "special editions or collector's editions" to get the consumer to double dip and quite often, those second releases are quite underwhelming. Paramount also did a good job in not trying to replicate the same extras they had on the original DVD release in 2000. With a retail price of just $19.99, I think Paramount does a fine job in providing a worthy DVD for us Braveheart fans to double dip in. With Braveheart, I think Mel Gibson has created a classic that will be remembered alongside Spartacus, Lawrence of Arabia, Ben-Hur, and more recently with Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut) as the gold standard in period epic filmmaking.