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Braveheart: Sapphire Series (Blu-ray Review)

7 Oct, 2009 By: John Latchem


$39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for brutal medieval warfare.
Stars Mel Gibson, Patrick McGoohan, Sophie Marceau, Angus Macfadyen, Catherine McCormack, Brendan Gleeson.

Mel Gibson’s epic of the life of Scottish hero William Wallace has scarcely looked this good outside of a theater. A beautiful 1080p transfer brings the 1995 best picture Oscar winner to life in high-definition.

A color palette of rich greens and muddy browns lends a gritty, earthy feel to the film, while stunning depictions of battle soak the screen red with blood. And to think, the film became so violent as a result of cutting down the depiction of gore.

Randall Wallace’s screenplay provides a simple yet effective structure for the story of Sir William, who inspired the Scots to fight for their independence from English rule. Even 14 years later, the film remains an effective rebuke of tyranny and a solid piece of entertainment.

It’s also one of the most historically inaccurate presentations ever committed to film. Fortunately, this “Sapphire Series” Blu-ray version includes a few documentaries to set the record straight.

Held over from the special-edition DVD are the featurettes “Tales of William Wallace,” which is more or less the true story of the man, and “A Writer’s Journey,” in which screenwriter Randall Wallace (no relation) describes how he went about fictionalizing the hero’s life.

The Blu-ray also includes Gibson’s commentary from the special edition.

New to the Blu-ray is the documentary “Smithfield: Medieval Killing Fields,” about the site of Wallace’s execution at the hands of the English, and “Dimensional Battlefields of the Scottish Rebellion,” a tactical analysis of some of the battles depicted in the film.

There’s also a timeline function that sorts out events from the film, from history and during the production.

Also new is the three-part behind-the-scenes documentary “Braveheart: A Look Back.” This is actually the third different making-of featurette to make it to disc, rendering the earlier DVD iterations extraneous. For completists, however, it means holding on to the earlier DVDs, as the Blu-ray does not include access to BD Live, where the earlier material could presumably have been included.

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