on May 1, 2010
First off, let me say that this is a "five-star" film for me. My rating is based on Amazon's incorrect information on the product page.
The product being offered here by Amazon.com is the UK Region-free Blu-ray. It is NOT the long version as stated, but rather the theatrical release at 181 minutes' running time. I verified this by ordering the Blu-ray, then actually seeing the correct information on the back of the case.
The back of the case also says "letterbox," whereas on the Amazon.com product page the aspect ratio is given as "1.78:1". However, 1.78:1 fills a 16x9 widescreen TV's screen completely, so it cannot be "letterbox," i.e. with the black bars on the top and bottom of the picture. I returned the Blu-ray without opening it, so I don't know which it actually is.
Even after I called Amazon Customer Service and pointed out their mistakes on the product page, they have yet to correct the errors after a weeks' time! Shame on them!
If you want the full-length, i.e. 4-hour extended cut, on Blu-ray, you need to get the French version (region-free, with French nonforced subtitles only), or the German version, which is locked to Region B and thus will most likely not play on standard U.S. Blu-ray players.
on January 12, 2012
Dances With Wolves is Kevin Costner's finest film to date, hands down. Nothing else comes close. While the actual story is a tad revisionistic, it is very entertaining. But before I get into this blu-ray release, I want to address an issue that I am surprised most critics did not catch onto. Dances With Wolves is the movie that James Cameron adapted to do Avatar. They are essentially the same stories, with the same character arcs and overall themes. I won't go blow for blow, but watch them back to back and tell me that Avatar is not a rip-off of Dances With Wolves. Now, this is not a review to bash Avatar, because I actually liked it. But I am surprised how much praise Cameron gets for the movie without acknowledging how much it owes to Dances With Wolves. Maybe he DID rip off Terminator from Harlon Ellison after all.
Anyway, I am usually not a big fan of extended cuts recently, because they tend to tack on a couple of minutes of crappy outtakes that were edited out for a reason. Not so with Dances With Wolves. One of the biggest revelations of this cut is you find out what happened to the soldiers of Fort Sedgwick before Lt. Dunbar made it there. While the original theatrical cut works with an odd sense of mystery at the beginning, this is also an interesting addition adding an unnecessary, but fun cut that solves the mystery. The other big addition for me was the soliloquey that Dunbar makes in his journal after they find the slaughtered buffalo. He makes a mention that he could not sleep with them and there were no looks of blame. That never sat well with me until I saw this extended version which puts that scene into context. It turns out the scouts found the white guys who killed the buffalo, scalped and slaughtered them, and the dance you saw around the campfire was celebrating that. It was, to me, a very important piece of the puzzle and I finally understood what Costner meant in that scene. It is also a pivotal moment in Dunbar's development as he becomes separated from the Whahchichoo and becomes a different individual to the tribe and to himself. He is becoming a man who does not fit anywhere. This is a very key moment that, with this small addition in the film, makes the movie so much deeper and Dunbar's character arc much more compelling and real.
This is one of the few movies that used their cut scenes to great effect, similar to the extended cuts of the Lord of the Rings. They are great for superfans, but also great for the regular viewer. Yes, most of the cuts were obviously cut out for a reason, and for the most part, are unnecessary to the core story. But if you like the story as much as I do, there are so many more delightful details to experience.
on February 28, 2011
Why it took this long to release 'Dances With Wolves' in Blu-ray, I will never know...perhaps there were technical difficulties, etc. I was a little disappointed with the lack of razor-like resolution that I expected, but it was still good enough to impress versus DVD. As others have said, the sound was much better (and perhaps that is primarily due to my own upgraded system).
The strongest impact for me, however, of this director's cut was seeing visuals and scenes that I don't remember seeing anywhere, even though I have been buying "enhanced" releases of Dances since VHS! There is one scene of Dunbar looking through his spy glass that is especially breathtaking. The scene is shot through a long lens and at a great distance from Dunbar. The result is massive towering cumulus clouds against a sunset blue sky that seem to rise directly out of the swell where Dunbar is standing. It was probably cut originally because it mirrors another scene on the cutting room floor in which the officer in charge of the abandoned Ft. Sedgewick is looking vainly through HIS spyglass for the relief column which never comes. The Dunbar scene only lasts a few seconds and should not have been cut from the original. The feeling of vastness and "aloneness" is overwhelming. I had to replay and freeze the image over and over again (yes, dammit, with tears in my eyes). For me, there is no doubt that these additional scenes and images are worth the price of the new edition on their own, regardless of the Blu-ray enhancement. Of course, this is coming from someone who considers 'Dances' to be the best movie ever made.
on November 22, 2010
Whoa there, partner! Here is the gospel truth, according to The Digital Bits, MGM Home Entertainment, in conjunction with 20th Century Fox, will release "Dances with Wolves" on Blu-ray on January 11, 2011. This BD will present the extended cut of this Oscar-winning western starring and directed by Kevin Costner. Most of the previous DVD extras will reportedly be included, along with newly-produced material. Also, according to Blu-Ray.com, this 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray release will indeed be the Director's extended cut at 236 minutes (3 hrs 56 mins), with the original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, the Video codec of MPEG-4 AVC and the resolution at 1080p.
So, we won't be getting it in time for Christmas, but we're going to be getting the best possible release (read the longest length) and even newly produced material. So, you can stop all the badgering of Amazon and MGM, partners! Mosey on over to your shoppin' basket and drop one of `em in, sign in & place your pre-order. This is just a suggestion, mind you. Amazon will eventually get around to updating their website to reflect 236 minutes for this Blu-Ray version.
Obviously, I cannot rate the video transfer and audio quality of the Blu-Ray edition until after it is released. If it does not measure up to my current rating, I will amend it after having watched the Blu-Ray version. But, my "Collector's Edition" SDVD was worth every penny which appeared to push the limits of my top of the line Samsung Blu-Ray (which up-converts SDVD discs) player and Samsung's last year's top of the line LED LCD TV, not to mention the limits of my poor old eyes.
With so much at stake, I am willing to bet MGM took the time and expense to get this one done right this time around. Mine is on pre-order and can hardly wait to saddle up one more time with this old friend.
Now, if they'd only dust off their other classic westerns, restore 'em, remaster 'em and release 'em too...but, that is a whole different story!
True Grit is finally getting the Blu-Ray treatment, but only because of the pending release in theaters on Christmas Day of an updated version with all new stars. They had to be kicked in the britches to get their attention and the original "True Grit" was an Academy Award winner for the Duke. It is a crime the way the old classic westerns are being treated by the studios. The demand for quality classic westerns on Blu-Ray is there. The studios are just not listening, nor willing to incur the expense to "do them right". I'd better step down from my soap box now, 'cause I get upset when I think about how they're ignoring us classic western collectors.
Update:11/24/10: Amazon has updated their website's listing for this Blu-Ray release from 181 minutes to 236 minutes just as I predicted they'd get around to doin'.
on July 1, 2011
This is regarding the DVD release I purchased in June 2011. Five star movie but only 1 for this 20th Anniversary DVD release which contains the theatrical release and ONLY that release. No directors cut, no making of, no trailers, heck not even an audio commentary. It's the 3 hour movie and NOTHING else.
on January 16, 2011
In my opinion, Dances with Wolves is one of the best movies ever made. It is beautifully directed; the cinematography, the costumes, the story, the characters, the acting all come together and create an unforgettable drama from history. It is one of those movies that really brings a new, fresh perspective to history.
I am from a foreign country and I grew up watching American Western movies when I was a kid. In those movies, I remember white guys were always the good guys and Indians were the savages. I always thought there was something wrong with that picture. It seemed to me just too one-sided. For some strange reason, I've always found myself associating myself with the Indians more than the cowboys. Even though they were depicted as savages with primitive, tribal culture, I found something beautiful about that. I always thought using arrows, and axes or just bare hands required more skill and courage. And I never understood why they would be bad if it was their land in the first place. And even though I didn't know much about the US history, I have always thought there would have had to be more to Indians.
Dances with Wolves is a special movie. I believe it is the first movie that gives an insight to the lives of Indians and doesn't depict them as mere savages. It shows the humanistic side of Indians, how they are family oriented, they have high values, like honor and friendship and loyalty. They are not just monsters as older Western movies would have us believe. Dances with Wolves tells the story of John Dunbar who is holding a post at the frontier and befriends Sioux Indians from a near-by village. The movie successfully shows how human beings, no matter how different they seem to be on the outside, they can communicate with each other and form beautiful friendship. This movie accomplishes this, if not anything else. This lesson can be applied to any situation in the world even today where people from different countries, races or religion try to live in peace.
This Blu ray version is only the extended version (4 hours) so you will not have the choice of watching the original theatrical release which is 3 hours. This may be the only downside of this release. Other than this, Blu ray transfer is fantastic. Audio is 7.1 HD DTS which is not very common (most movies are only 5.1). It has bunch of extras and feature commentaries (see the product details page). If you love this movie, you will definitely enjoy the Blu ray picture and sound quailty. I paid $19.99 and I think it is geat bargain for such a great movie.
on August 19, 2011
If you're buying this recently there is a good chance you won't be getting the slip cover with it. All signs point to anyone selling this that they no longer are giving the slip cover with it. It makes sense from a business stand point but for a fan its pretty disappointing.
on April 26, 2015
This is an extended play version; be ready for a 4-hour movie! Several scenes added that were not in the original theatrical version. We are only half way through, rarely do we have 4 hours to watch one movie but we like it so far. Shows more of the story line.
on November 8, 2016
I forgot how much I liked this movie! My husband and I watched it with our 10 and 12 year old boys. Although we had to cover their eyes in a couple parts, they were really engaged and loved it. It has some excellent messages about honor, integrity, and what is really important in life. Highly recommend!!
on December 27, 2015
An interesting and touching movie about how the American Indians were driven from the east to the reservations in the west. Made me sad but I enjoyed the personal relationships that developed between the army captain (Kevin Costner) and the various tribe members. I had seen the movie 25 years ago, and I just had to buy it to watch it again with my grandson.