Seabiscuit (2-Disc Collector's Set)
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A great American story from Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Gary Ross, Seabiscuit stars Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges and Chris Cooper. Based on the inspiring true story of three men - a jockey, a trainer and a businessman - and the undersized racehorse who took the entire nation on the ride of a lifetime. This breathtaking film achievement is "a must-see moviegoing experience" (Chicago Sun-Times) and "a flat-out great movie!" (Larry King Live, CNN)
This Seabiscuit has all the things one expects in a DVD gift set: a glossy red slipcase with a 32-page movie-photo booklet and postcard-size picture cards featuring the real horse and stats, among other things. But here's a surprise--there's also a second disc augmenting the excellent extras on the standard disc. These include an hour-long A&E The True Story of Seabiscuit, the HBO "First Look" airing and a segment looking more precisely at each actor and character. Best is the historical match race seen in its entirely with newsreel footage and the original radio call. The first disc (standard in name only) contains solid segments on the history and filmmaking, plus on-set photos by star Jeff Bridges. Director Gary Ross invites his friend Steven Soderbergh for his commentary track, making for an impressive conversation about filmmaking; the two even "pause" the film to talk about a particular aspect. --Doug Thomas
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There was a time when Seabiscuit was America's most celebrated personality, getting even more pub than F.D.R. Seabiscuit lived and raced during the Great Depression, the course of his storied life running parallel with the ups and downs of that era. He was the son of Hard Tack, grandson of Man-O-War, and growing up he was abused and so became bitter and incorrigible. Standing barely 15 hands, the Biscuit was certainly never tapped to be a champion racehorse. His mean upbringing is mentioned, except that the film's first 44 minutes devote themselves to a leisurely introduction of the three damaged men who would shape the Biscuit's career, shape him into a legend. One after another, we meet the visionary entrepreneur (who is a bit of a huckster), the peculiar horse whisperer quietly mourning a vanishing way of life, and the half-blind, overeducated jockey who boxed and quoted Shakespeare.
The casting choices are spot-on. There's no bad egg in this bunch, from the principal actors - and how many crazy pounds did Tobey Maguire lose for the part? - down to ancillary characters like George "the Iceman" Woolf as played by real life jockey Gary Stevens (in his debut role) and the fun, fast-talking radio announcer Tick Tock McGlaughlin, marvelously brought to life by William H. Macy.
The races are rousing, pulse-pounding stuff, yeah. The story builds up to the historic match race with War Admiral and later the Santa Anita Hundred Grander, and I couldn't believe how intense my sense of anticipation was leading into these races. And when you bring up that list of best sports cinema, SEABISCUIT is up there with ROCKY and HOOSIERS, because how do you not root for this gutsy ugly little horse? Narrated with quiet assurance by David McCullough, this is something lyrical, a period film that looks authentic and packs an emotional punch. It's also a dynamite history lesson concerning a time when the country was tested severely, and phrases like "pick themselves up by their bootstraps" and "never say die attitude" circulated like a mother, became rallying cries. Beaten down but never bowed was the Biscuit, and he never quit. You can see why he became the common guy's hero. See this movie. Read the book.
The DVD's special features include: audio commentary by director Gary Ross and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh (in which the two pause the movie several times to go even more in depth about certain scenes); "Bringing the Legend to Life": the Making of SEABISCUIT (00:15:04 minutes); "Anatomy of a Movie Moment" - Gary Ross shares his step-by-step filmmaking process of one sequence from script to screen; "Seabiscuit: Racing thru History" explores more of Seabiscuit's stunning rise to celebrity status thru historic newsreel footage of actual races (including clips of his match race with War Admiral) and numerous interviews, including interviews with Gary Ross and author Laura Hillenbrand (00:14:53); "Photo Finish" - Jeff Bridges' On the Set photographs; "The Longshot" - a special message from Buick, set in a faux newsreel format and which goes into the origins of the Buick auto and also of Charles Howard's involvement (00:03:19); promotional material; cast & filmmakers bios and film highlights; production notes; and DVD-ROM features.
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