Brokeback Mountain appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Though usually satisfying, the image could be a bit erratic.
Definition seemed inconsistent, though with many more ups than downs. The movie usually offered nice delineation, but some softness crept in at times. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, though, and no signs of source flaws or edge haloes occurred
Given its restrained tone, the movie’s palette followed suit. The outdoors settings boasted lush greens and looked good, but much of the rest of the film went with blander hues. In any case, the colors were consistently accurate and decisive. Blacks appeared deep and dark, but shadows could be a little heavy.
Actually, the low-light shots usually seemed fine, but a few images were somewhat dense. The prime culprit came from the scene in which Jack and Ennis first did the deed. I suspected this shot was intentionally shot, but it appeared dimmer than expected – and tougher to discern than I remembered from the theatrical showing I saw. In any case, the visuals of Brokeback didn’t excel but they were more than satisfactory.
To my surprise, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio proved pretty expansive. The outdoors shots opened up matters with a nice sense of environment, and the occasional louder element filled out the speakers well. From rodeo sequences to storms to other pieces, the mix broadened nicely and used all five speakers to good effect.
Audio quality always seemed solid. Music was lush and full, while effects came across as accurate and dynamic.
Most of the movie remained restrained, but the occasional louder piece was clean and concise. Speech appeared natural and crisp. This was a solid soundtrack for a character film.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the Collector’s Edition DVD from 2007? Audio showed a little more range and warmth, and visuals looked tighter and better resolved. The Blu-ray offered a decent upgrade over the DVD.
The Blu-ray repeats the CE’s extras, and these start with the 17-minute, 13-second *A Groundbreaking Success. It includes notes from journalist/blogger Matt Zoller Seitz, film critic B. Ruby Rich, writer/producer Diana Ossana, executive producer Michael Costigan, director Ang Lee, Variety editor-in-chief Peter Bart, producer James Schamus, journalist Alonso Duralde, and actors Jake Gyllenhaal, and Heath Ledger.
As implied by the title, “Success” looks at the film’s reception. We get a few notes about why it appealed to those involved but mostly hear about how the public and critics reacted to the flick.
This remains more self-congratulatory than I’d like and never really digs into the factors behind Brokeback’s surprising success. We get general thoughts but not much more than that.
Impressions from the Film lasts two minutes, 33 seconds as it offers a basic still gallery. We see a mix of shots from the movie; no behind the scenes images appear. It’s a waste of time.
In the 11-minute, 17-second Music from the Mountain, we hear from Lee, Schamus, Costigan, composer Gustavo Santaolalla, music supervisor Kathy Nelson, and singers/songwriters Mary McBride, Teddy Thompson, Steve Earle and Rufus Wainwright.
We find out how Santaolalla came onto the project as well as the development of the score, songs and instrumentation choices. Inevitably, it throws out lots of praise for his work, but we get enough decent information about the work to make this a useful program.
On Being a Cowboy runs five minutes, 43 seconds and mixes comments from stunt coordinator Kirk Jarrett, animal wrangler TJ Bews, executive producer/screenwriter Diana Ossana, wrangler Don Gillespie, director Ang Lee and actors Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway.
The show looks at the actors’ training to play the cowboy parts of the film. This short piece offers a decent examination of how the participants went through “cowboy camp”.
We focus on the director in Directing from the Heart: Ang Lee. The seven-minute, 27-second show includes remarks from Lee, Ledger, Hathaway, Gyllenhaal, Ossana, executive producer Michael Costigan, producer James Schamus, cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, costume designer Marit Allen, and actors Anna Faris, Randy Quaid, and Linda Cardellini.
The program reflects Lee’s directorial style and his work, why Lee took on the flick, the movie’s cinematography and visual elements, and how the director works with the cast. Occasional nuggets of useful material emerge here, but “Heart” mostly acts as a puff piece to tout Lee’s skills. We don’t get much meat in this fluffy program.
Next we find the 10-minute, 53-second From Script to Screen: Interviews with Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. As expected, this presents notes from writers Ossana and McMurtry as well as Schamus, Quaid, Lee, Hathaway. Cardellini, Ledger, Costigan, and Gyllenhaal. The piece looks at Annie Proulx’s original story and its adaptation as well as troubles bringing it to the screen.
We get details about the expansion of the short article into a feature-length film and learn what the writers wanted to accomplish. Though we get a little too much happy talk, they offer nice insight into their work and thought processes in this informative featurette.
For the final featurette, we locate Sharing the Story: The Making of Brokeback Mountain. In this 20-minute, 48-second piece, we get comments from Lee, Ledger, Gyllenhaal, Hathaway, Schamus, Cardellini, Ossana, McMurtry, production designer Judy Becker, composer Gustavo Santaolalla, and actor Michelle Williams.
After a basic recap of story and characters, “Sharing” looks at the short story, its adaptation, and move to the screen, casting, cowboy camp, locations, Lee’s work with the actors and their interactions, animals, shooting the love scenes, and reactions to the movie. Most of the information here already appears in the other featurettes, so don’t expect to learn much.
“Sharing” emphasizes fluff since it exists to promote the film. It’s not very interesting.
Brokeback Mountain inspired passionate debate due to its themes, but the movie itself seemed strangely unaffecting. Though it does everything right on the surface, it never quite connects. The Blu-ray offers reasonably good picture and audio along with some decent extras. I think Brokeback merits a look but I don’t feel it stands as a great film.
To rate this film visit the original review of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN