looks and sounds better than ever on disc 1 of this 2-disc 15th Anniversary Edition, and includes an introduction by director Ron Howard, who describes how he still gets a thrill whenever he sees a fire engine responding to an alarm, since filming Backdraft
("a film I'm very proud of") gave him a deep appreciation of firemen and the dangerous job they do. Disc 2 is loaded with new and exclusive features, including 43 minutes of deleted scenes taken from a work-print (including extensions of scenes in the film) that are worthy of one viewing, if only to illustrate why they weren't needed in the final film. "Igniting the Story" is a 15-minute featurette focusing on the origin of Backdraft
as a screenplay written by former firefighter Gregory Widen, with Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer, Widen, and others describing the process of bringing Backdraft
from script to screen. "Bringing Together the Team" runs 19 minutes, and covers casting decisions (including two real-life Chicago firefighters), firefighter training for the cast, and the logistical challenges of placing well-known actors in genuine (albeit safety-enforced) danger.
"The Explosive Stunts" is another 15-minute featurette, revealing Howard's decision to avoid digital technology (because computer-generated fire still looked "phony" in 1991) and focus instead on authentic, practical fire effects, with actors Kurt Russell, Scott Glenn, and William Baldwin performing many of their own stunts under potentially dangerous conditions. (Glenn describes one incident where fire burned through nearly three layers of his Nomex fire-retardant underwear!) "Creating the Villain: The Fire" shows how the still-impressive infernos in Backdraft were achieved, and this is a fascinating featurette given that Backdraft was a one-of-a-kind production, filmed before the advent of sophisticated and real-looking digital fire effects. "Real-Life Firemen, Real-Life Stories" is a 10-minute tribute to a group of Chicago firemen who praise Backdraft for its realism while pointing out some of the differences between the film and the real-life details of firefighting. Of course, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 weigh heavily on these men, who acknowledge Backdraft as the first film to honor the bravery of firefighters prior to their news-making heroism in the wake of 9/11. --Jeff Shannon
Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard's heroic action-thriller about the adventurous lives of professional firefighters is now available in an all new 2-disc Anniversary Edition. Kurt Russell and William Baldwin star as two feuding firefighter brothers who must set aside their personal differences in order to survive the burning, churning infernos set by a maniacal arsonist. Co-starring Robert DeNiro, Donald Sutherland, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Rebecca DeMornay, this collectible, digitally remastered edition includes hours of bonus features that take you behind the heart-pounding pyrotechnics and Academy Award-nominated special effects!