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By Michael Dequina | July 9, 1999

Like all of director Mike Leigh’s films, his critics’ fave about the making of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” was not conventionally made; there was no set script, and its story was developed through extensive rehearsals with the cast (Leigh was still awarded an Oscar nod for Original Screenplay, however). Unfortunately, USA has given a conventional DVD treatment. Having music from the soundtrack accompany the minimally animated menus is a nice enhancement, as is the inclusion of the theatrical trailer and all television spots, a stills gallery (all the better to appreciate the Oscar-winning costume and makeup design) as well as background text on Gilbert and Sullivan. But for a film whose fascination has a great deal to do with how it was made, there is little insight offered into Leigh’s unique creative process. The disc’s rather standard (and very brief) behind-the-scenes featurette (which doesn’t identify the cast and crew members–a big annoyance considering many of the actors spend the film covered in makeup) does touch upon this issue, but it’s too shallow and unsatisfying tease of one.

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