Grey Owl

Grey Owl (1999)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Annie Galipeau
Extras: 2 Commentary tracks, 2 Featurettes, Shorts, Interviews, Trailers, Screenplay

James Bond plays as Indian? It may appear a little weird at times, but believe me you will quickly settle into the idea of Pierce Brosnan as an adopted frontier trapper. “Grey Owl” is a great and beautiful movie by Richard Attenborough that gives us yet another good look into the lives on the frontier. It is also a great showcase for Pierce Brosnan versatility as an actor and a breathtakingly beautiful film.

Columbia TriStar Home Video presents “Grey Owl” in an anamorphic widescreen presentation on this special edition DVD that fully restores the movie’s original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The source print used is generally clean and without notable grain, creating a strong and pleasant image. The transfer features lush and strong colors, nicely reproducing the hues and shades of the outdoors in which the movie is mostly set. Blacks are deep and solid and highlights are well balanced to create a good-looking picture. The compression is very good without distracting artifacts, although signs of pixelation are evident in selected scenes of the film.

The disc contains an array of audio tracks, ranging from a 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track in English to an English Dolby Surround track and a French 5.1 channel Dolby Digital track. Especially the 5.1 mixes are very well integrated, producing a wide sound field with good spatial effects. Surrounds are used well to recreate the outdoors with breathing, lively ambient effects noticeable throughout the film. In selected scenes the surrounds are sued quite aggressively, fully supporting the images on screen.
The disc also contains two audio commentary track, one with director Richard Attenborough, and the other one with producer Jake Eberts. Both are very informative and helpful to understand the entire film and its subtext a little better, but I found especially Richard Attenborough’s thoughtful and intelligent comments the most intriguing. They may not be the most entertaining, but definitely some very insightful commentaries.

A plethora of other supplements rounds this special edition out, including documentaries, the screenplay, interviews, shorts and a bunch of great DVD-ROM content. As expected, once again Columbia TriStar is bringing us here a stunning special edition, but sadly I can’t rid myself of the impression that in order to add all the extras to the disc the video quality of the feature presentation has been sacrificed somewhat. It once again raises the age-old question of what is more important, the movie or the fluff around it?