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Dances With Wolves (1990)

NOTE: This Semler/Travis commentary track is only available on the "Special Edition" release. Most of this Costner/Wilson commentary was available on the original "Dances With Wolves" DVD release, but additional material was recorded for this version to cover the scenes added to the special edition.

Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director/actor Kevin Costner and producer Jim Wilson Rating:8.2/10 (16 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Therealmrspock on December 21st, 2016:Find all reviews by Therealmrspock
One of the longest audio commentaries I ever had the opportunity to hear (the movie itself is 4 hours long), but if you're a fan of the movie, this one is for you. Kevin Costner and Jim Wilson give a loads of interesting stuff about the challenges of the production (Costner wanted a lake in fort Sedgwick, so Wilson arranged for numerous trucks to bring massive amounts of water to the fort; Wilson asked a Ranger if he could collect dead deer run over on the roads across the US for the scene where Dunbar finds the dead animals in the lake...) and how the actors all gave their best (for instance, Costner recalls how his little daughter accidentally sat on a cactus on the set while an important scene was filming, but she stayed a professional and did not say a word until the film crew said "cut").

Costner acknowledges John Barry, as well, who did the score, and luckily avoids being self-important or narcissistic since he manages to admit how unsure he was at this project, even bringing some humor here and there (the wolf scenes, for instance: "I always threw a piece of meat away from me, because the wolf always goes after the lower food chain. And then I ran away the other side. And that's how you make movies!"). It is interesting that even though he was awarded with the Oscar for the film, he never sounds patronizing and is always relaxed and honest, whereas the "Academy Award" word is only dropped in the last 10 minutes of the film - and he uses it only to praise Graham Greene and Mary, who were nominated for best acting - not himself. Wilson's comment is interesting for one thing: he mentions the screening of the film in front of an audience that was 2/3 Native American, and how it was the greatest film screening he ever witnessed, with people cheering and reacting to the fullest. A few pauses here and there, yet other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this listen. 9/10
Commentary 2: Director of photography Dean Semler and editor Neil Travis Rating:6.3/10 (6 votes) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by Therealmrspock on January 13th, 2017:Find all reviews by Therealmrspock
This second audio commentary on the disc is weaker than the one by Costner and Wilson, but it has its moments. It starts out weak, with Semler and Travis talking only about the technical aspects (such as that Costner was lying on a box to film him from the frog perspective when he is wounded on the battle field), but the two slowly "get into gear" as the movie goes on and by the end you actually wish you could hear more of their stories and anecdotes from the filming. They talk like two friends at camp fire who haven't seen each other for a long time: they need time to "warm up" again, but once they do, they really have some good stories to tell.

I loved how Semler recalls a few funny moments on the set (they sometimes used buffalo droppings as reference marks for the camera, and when Semler asked the cameraman to go to Africa for another film, he said: "Oh, we will have bigger 'reference marks'!") and how he encountered the legacy of "Dances" even in Australia (he meet some workers one evening, and one of them said: "I have a bone to pick with you. Those buffalo in the film... They all had ear-tags, right?"). Travis is also great, and admits this is his favorite film ever he worked on, because it was like a "family picture" to him, since Costner took the film crew to various activities, like bowling, roller skeating or boating on a lake during the break from filming. Their final words on the commentary will stick with you ("Sometimes, you make one film, and that film is enough to last your whole lifetime, even if you never did anything from it." - "You can't top this one."). 7/10