All of Wes Anderson’s previous films have received the Criterion treatment, so it was inevitable that “The Darjeeling Limited” would follow suit, as I mentioned at the end of my review of the original DVD release. In fact, I believe Criterion previously committed to bring all of his work to their label.
I won’t rehash my original review, but I’ll offer up a healthy quote from it to provide context for my rating: “While the film exhibits many of the hallmarks of Anderson’s work, I came away from this one feeling like something was missing. The worlds and characters of his previous films were fleshed out, but the Whitmans and their history is more like a sketch than a full-blown painting. And that’s a shame, because I think there was more of a story to tell here … Don’t get me wrong: ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ isn’t a bad film. There’s plenty to like about it. It just didn’t hit me over the head the way ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’ and ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ did.”
So, with that out of the way, let’s see what this two-disc Criterion release has to offer. Disc one offers a solid commentary track with Anderson and co-screenwriters Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, who also stars in the film. Listen all the way to the end for something funny that’s right out of Anderson’s “let’s have a little fun with DVD bonus features” playbook. The “Hotel Chevalier” short, which is also on the first disc (it was on the original DVD too), has a solo commentary track with Anderson. The theatrical trailer rounds out the platter.
Over on disc two, we have the 40-minute “The Making of ‘The Darjeeling Limited,'” which eschews interviews in favor of lots of behind-the-scenes footage; it’s also a typical Anderson thing. The original DVD gave us just a taste of this kind of stuff, so it’s nice to have something more substantial. The other major extra is a 20-minute meeting between Anderson and James Ivory of the well-known Merchant-Ivory filmmaking team. They discuss the Merchant-Ivory musical scores, as well as those from the late Satayajit Ray’s movies, that were used for the “Darjeeling Limited” soundtrack.
While many Criterion offerings include scholarly discussions, Anderson’s DVD releases have tended to stay away from such navel-gazing, so film critic Matt Zoller Seitz’s 12-minute piece is about as close as you’re going to get to such a thing in this set. Seitz picks the film apart and explains much of its symbolism.
From there, we move on to lots of odds-and-ends, including: a deleted scene with the Whitmans playing cricket with some kids; short videos by actor Waris Ahluwalia, who appears with Schwartzman in that goofy American Express commercial Anderson did, which is presented here too; an audition clip by an Indian child who won the Boy with Handkerchief role; a brief video by Roman Coppola showing the film’s writing process in India; a 40-second “Trophy Case” video showcasing the film’s two major awards; a “My Trip to India” video by the son of production designer Mark Friedberg; and an expansive stills gallery.