I wrote the review of the first “Brokeback Mountain” DVD, so check it out to find out what I think of the film. The money quote: “This is really a love story at its heart, a movie about two people (forget about gender and focus on the human beings here) trying to connect in circumstances that aren’t hospitable to their relationship. In that way, how is it any different from, say, ‘Romeo and Juliet’?”
So, how does this new two-disc Collector’s Edition stack up against the first one? It’s a disappointment, actually, so much so that I had to perform my customary half-star ding off this DVD. I gave the original one four stars, despite the paltry extras, because I assumed something more elaborate would be headed our way eventually. Unfortunately, this set only contains about 30 minutes of new material, with the rest of it recycled from the original DVD. There’s no commentary track to be found, nor are there any deleted scenes. Okay, there are eight collectible postcards included, if you care about such things.
“Directing From the Heart: Ang Lee,” “From Script to Screen: Interviews With Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana,” “Sharing the Story: The Making of ‘Brokeback Mountain,'” and “On Being a Cowboy” all reappear from the original disc. While it’s all good material, I was hoping for one of those in-depth documentaries on disc two this time around. Instead, disc one includes a single new featurette, “A Groundbreaking Success,” which runs about 17 minutes and looks back on the film with comments from bloggers and journalists in the gay media as well as producer James Schamus and the screenwriters. It’s a nice retrospective look at the reception the film received when it appeared in theaters, and how it managed to overcome a lot of the homophobia thrown its way.
As an aside, I should point out that the film looks better this time around, thanks to the extra room for the print on disc one. Whereas the first DVD had to hold the movie and all the extras, this time around the film only has to share the disc with a single featurette. However, I’d say the picture quality improvement is really marginal at best.
“A Groundbreaking Success” isn’t bad, but it’s too short. Over on disc two, we have those four recycled featurettes, along with “Impressions From the Film,” a two-and-a-half-minute montage of photos set to music from the film, and “Music From the Mountain,” which looks at how the score was created by composer Gustavo Santaolalla. I wish Universal had given someone the go-ahead to create a new documentary that reused much of the original material but fleshed it out with more in-depth discussions of how the film came to be, as well as the reaction to it from both sides of the issue. A survey of gay-themed movies, and how “Brokeback Mountain” fits in among them, would have been interesting too.
Ultimately, I don’t think you’re missing much if you hold onto the original DVD and wait for a 10th or 15th anniversary set to come along someday. I hate the way the studios go back to the well over and over with movies on DVD, but I think “Brokeback Mountain” is worthy of an elaborate anniversary release, given that I think it will go down in history as a classic film, not due to the controversy but simply because it’s a powerful story. It’s just a shame we have to wait that long to see such a thing.