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Dances with Wolves (20th Anniversary Extended Cut)) - Blu-ray / drama DVD / action adventure DVD / Western DVD review
Dances with Wolves ( 20th Anniversary Extended Cut) Rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 5 stars
Featuring: Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant
Director: Kevin Costner Studio: MGM Video & DVD
DVD release: 11 January 2011 Runtime: 236 min. (2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p HD, Aspect ratio 2.36:1, Audio tracks (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 - English; Dolby Digital 2.0 - English), Subtitles (English SDH, French, Spanish), 7.1 DTS HD Master Audio Track, Extended cut w/ 50+ minutes of extra footage, Commentary (Kevin Costner, prod. Jim Wilson), Commentary (dir. of photography Dean Semler, editor Neil Travis), Military Rank and Social Hierarchy Guide (interactive), Real History or Movie Make Believe (interactive), A Day In The Life On The Frontier featurette, The Creation of an Epic Retrospective Documentary, Original making-of featurette, Original music video, Dances photo montage (intro by Ben Glass), Poster gallery, TV spots

*Dances with Wolves (20th Anniversary Extended Cut)*It's been over 20 years since Dances with Wolves was released. It was quite a boon for South Dakota, a state which has hosted precious few films. It is also the state where I live, and for that reason I have an extra soft spot in my heart for Dances with Wolves. It helps that it is such a wonderful film.

Kevin Costner plays Lt. John Dunbar, a Civil War soldier who is injured and stands to lose his foot. Rather than live on as less than his whole self, he opts to break the stalemate between the North and South on the battlefield and charge the Confederates in a suicide run. Instead, he miraculously survives and becomes a hero. Given a horse, a promotion, and the option to choose his next post, he chooses the frontier and is given Fort Sedgwick, a recently abandoned post in the Dakota Territory. He arrives to find the place a mess and a nearby pond filled with dead animals. He stays the course, setting up a routine of upkeep and patrols. For along while, the only life he encounters is a wolf he nicknames Two-Socks (a wolf who would later inadvertently be nicknamed Dunbar).

Later Dunbar encounters Indians, and slowly they come together, each curious about the other. It starts tentatively with the exchange of gifts and words. Lt. Dunbar describes a buffalo by pantomime. Native American warrior Wind in His Hair (Rodney A. Grant) responds with "He's lost his mind", but Kicking Bird (Graham Greene) is wise and patient enough to get the gist of it - "Tatanka" - and a valuable piece of culture is shared. Eventually, Dunbar and the Sioux Indians come together with the help of Stands With A Fist (MaryMcDonnell), a white woman kidnapped as a child from her family by the Pawnee and eventually adopted by the Sioux. As is to be expected, Dunbar goes 'native,' growing more sympathetic to the ways of the Sioux than the ways of the white man, whose Manifest Destiny foretells the death of Sioux culture. The Sioux battle other Indian nations to ensure the safety of their food and their families, which is far less political than the battles Dunbar is used to. James Cameron's Avatar is not dissimilar from Dances with Wolves in this way.

First-time director Costner financed much of Dances himself and raised other monies in Europe. It was a risk at a time when the Western epic film was not being embraced, but it paid off for Costner and for the understanding of Native American culture. Dances won seven Oscars and paved the way for such films as Thunderheart, Smoke Signals and Skins.

The Blu-ray transfer is gorgeous, and this cut adds 55 more gorgeous minutes to the already three-hour epic. Despite all the extra footage, I can't really see where it was added. The pacing is measured and deliberate, not rushing anything, taking time to let the wind blow over the prairie. There are intense scenes of action as well as emotionally charged scenes that make the heart ache. The Native Americans depicted are to be respected and revered. That native language was used in the film is both amazing and wonderful. Dances with Wolves is worth seeing again.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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