Winner of five Academy Awards including Best Picture, Mel Gibson’s stunning 1995 epic about the life of legendary Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace is one of the crown jewels in Paramount’s catalog of titles, not to mention one of the films most beloved by moviegoers in the past decade. So one would think–or, rather, hope–that the studio would add some pizzazz to their famously static DVD menus in this case. Alas, no–still silent, still motionless.
The supplemental features are also a bit lacking. The de rigueur “making-of” featurette, A Filmmaker’s Passion: The Making of Braveheart , is one of those PR-minded programs that aired on pay cable to push the film’s theatrical run. It would have been nicer to see a new documentary, where Gibson and other people involved in the production could look back on the film’s Oscar success, its fairly modest box office, etc. The film’s two theatrical trailers are also included, as is what would seem a very promising extra: feature-length commentary by Gibson. While this is indeed the most interesting extra, for every moment that Gibson’s trademark sense of humor shines through or he divulges his special shooting techniques, there are too many long stretches of silence.
Maybe Gibson himself just caught up in watching the film during those stretches, which will likely happen to viewers during the dead spots in the commentary track. The film looks and sounds spectacular in the new digital form, all the better to appreciate the awesome sound work, John Toll’s gorgeous cinematography, and James Horner’s evocative Oscar-nominated score, which is on a par, if not better, than his statue-winning work for Titanic . But most of all, the film is still as absorbing as ever–none of the battle scenes lose their raw charge, and the overall emotional sweep is stronger than ever.
Specifications: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen; English 5.1 Surround; English and French Dolby Surround; English subtitles; English closed captioning.