Walk the Line appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Only insignificant concerns cropped up during this fine presentation.
Expect no real issues with sharpness. Only the slightest hint of softness ever materialized; the vast majority of the movie appeared accurate and concise. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and both edge haloes and source flaws appeared absent.
Line took on a nostalgic, somewhat golden palette much of the time. It rendered its colors with fine vivacity and presence. The hues were always firm and lively. Black levels seemed rich and dense, while low-light shots offered nice delineation. I felt very pleased with this excellent transfer.
I thought the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack offered high-quality audio. As one might expect, music dominated the presentations. All the various tunes offered excellent stereo imaging as they spread instruments accurately across the front. Surrounds offered neat support for the music as well, though the songs focused on the front. Effects didn’t play much of a role, but they worked fine. Some thunder and audience bits added good atmospheric material.
Audio quality was solid. Speech always sounded crisp and natural, and no problems marred the dialogue. Effects seemed tight and accurate, while music was full and dynamic. The songs presented distinctive highs and warm lows. Overall, the soundtrack gave us clear, vivid audio.
How did the picture and audio of this Blu-ray compare to those of the original DVD? Audio boasted mild improvements, as the lossless mix offered a bit more punch and vivacity. Picture showed the biggest step up, though, as the Blu-ray was consistently better defined than the DVD.
A mix of components from the 2006 theatrical edition DVD and the 2008 Extended Cut DVD, the extras open with an audio commentary from director James Mangold. He offers a running, screen-specific discussion. Mangold chats about the story and characters, actors and performances, sets and period issues, his relationship and collaboration with the real Johnny and June, and a mix of general production topics. We get info about why Mangold chose to have the actors sing their own songs and many other bits connected to the music.
This was the fourth Mangold commentary I’d screened and arguably the best. Substantially more introspective than the usual discussion, Mangold offers a lot more about why he did things than how. He delves into historical and character subjects with real fervor and offers very good elaboration of the film’s themes and material. I especially like the notes about his time with Johnny and June, but Mangold makes almost every moment worthwhile here. He provides a genuinely informative and thoughtful look at his film that acts as a terrific companion piece.
Titled “More Man in Black”, the disc presents 10 Deleted Scenes. These last a total of 23 minutes and 44 seconds of footage. These offer a look at Jack’s funeral as well as more of Johnny’s pre-fame days in Memphis. They also show the further development of his career, his various problems, and much more with Vivian. These are all pretty interesting to see, as they give us a better look at the breadth of Cash’s life. I particularly like the bits from Memphis, especially when we see Johnny’s reaction when he accidentally breaks a 45 and thinks he needs to re-record it.
We can watch the segments with or without commentary from Mangold. He goes over some story notes and relates why he cut the scenes. There’s a lot of dead air here, but Mangold hits the appropriate notes.
Folsom: Cash and the Comeback lasts 11 minutes, 46 seconds and provides remarks from musicians Marty Stuart, Don and Harold Reid, and Kris Kristofferson, biographers Bill Miller and Patrick Carr, journalist Steve Pond, magazine editor Jason Fine, Country Music Hall of Fame historian Jay Orr, Miller, Folsom recreation director “Coach” Lloyd Kelly, Folsom public information officer Lt. Robert Trujillo, and Folsom inmate EC Breland. “Folsom” looks at Cash’s affinity for the prison setting as well as his push toward a late 1960s comeback and the Folsom concert. The featurette provides good notes about this seminal performance and its elements.
We take a look at the Carter/Cash relationship via Ring of Fire: The Passion of Johnny and June. It goes for 11 minutes, 28 seconds and involves son John Carter Cash, Stuart, country music historian Alanna Nash, Don and Harold Reid, Fine, Carr, Orr, Pond, Miller, actor Joaquin Phoenix, and Kristofferson. “Fire” covers the long-time connection between Cash and Carter as well as aspects of their personalities. Some of the information repeats from topics covered in the film, but we get enough new stories to make “Fire” interesting.
During the 11-minute and 12-second Cash and His Faith, we hear from Miller, John Carter Cash, Stuart, Carr, Johnny’s sister Joanne Cash Yates, and Cash’s spiritual guides/friends Pastor Harry Yates and Pastor Jimmy Snow. This show digs into a topic essentially left out of the film, so that gives us a different perspective. It turns into a revealing piece, though I must admit the most pressing question it poses is “why does Johnny’s sister have a Cruella De Vil hairstyle?”
Finally, Celebrating the Man in Black: The Making of Walk the Line runs 21 minutes, 37 seconds and features Mangold, Stuart, John Carter Cash, Kristofferson, Witherspoon, Phoenix, producers Cathy Konrad and James Keach, composer/music supervisor T-Bone Burnett, actors Tyler Hilton, Johnathan Rice,Waylon Payne, Reese Witherspoon, Dallas Roberts and Shooter Jennings, Johnny Cash record producer Jack “Cowboy” Clement, musicians Willie Nelson, Henry Rollins, John Mellencamp, Rodney Crowell, Merle Haggard and Kid Rock., “Tennessee Two” bass player Marshall Grant, and Cash’s manager Lou Robin. “Celebrating” offers a recap of the story and characters as well as some aspects of the flick’s shoot. Created as a televised infomercial, a few minor tidbits emerge, but this remains a highly promotional piece.
Under the Trailers banner, the disc includes ads for Man On Fire, Wall Street, The Devil Wears Prada, Cast Away and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. It also provides the trailer for Walk the Line.
Chalk up Walk the Line as a moderate success. The movie offers a decent look at the ups and downs of Johnny Cash’s life and career, and it features consistently good performances. However, it lacks a certain spark or sense of depth that would make it more memorable. The Blu-ray presents positive picture and audio along with a fairly good collection of supplements. I’m not wild about the movie, but the Blu-ray delivers it in a very satisfying manner.
To rate this film visit the original review of WALK THE LINE