The Wind and the Lion (ViaVision) (1975) (NTSC)
Audio Commentary-Writer / director John Milius
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-(9:41)
|Year Of Production||1975|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||John Milius|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.40:1|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Morocco, 1904. Mulay Hamid El Raisuli (Sean Connery), Sharif of the Rif Berbers and last of the Barbary Pirates, kidnaps American widow Eden Pedecaris (Candice Bergen) and her two children (Simon Harrison / Polly Gottesman). His purpose is to embarrass his nephew the Sultan and his brother The Bashaw (Vladek Sheybal), who is the real power in Morocco, because Raisuli believes, rightly, that they have sold Morocco out to foreign powers including France, Germany and Great Britain. His kidnapping of US citizens has unexpected results, however. President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith) is facing a re-election campaign and seizes on the kidnapping as a cause-celeb; when the Sultan fails to act he sends ships of the US navy to Tangier against the advice of members of his cabinet, including Secretary of State John Hay (John Huston), amid concerns about alienating the other great powers.
In the desert Raisuli discovers that by kidnapping Mrs Pedecaris he has taken on more than he bargained for but gradually a two way grudging respect grows between them despite their religious and personal differences. In Tangier the Americans run out of patience and a company of Marines led by Captain Jerome (Steve Kanaly) land, attack the Palace of the Bashaw and force him to open up serious negotiations with Raisuli for the return of the American family. Gunboat diplomacy at its best! Offers of a ransom are communicated to Raisuli via the Sharif of Wazan (Nadim Sawalha). Having made his point, and with no intention of harming his American captives, Raisuli agrees to return them, but at the exchange he is betrayed and captured by the Germans. The Americans, including Mrs Pedecaris, Captain Jerome and his small squad of Marines, believing that Roosevelt had guaranteed the trade and that American honour was at stake, have a decision to make as the Berbers attack the German compound to free Raisuli.
Macho writer / director John Milius, afterwards writer / director of Conan the Barbarian (1982) and Red Dawn (1984) and co-screenwriter of Apocalypse Now (1979) with Francis Ford Coppola (for which they received an Oscar nomination), is in his element with The Wind and the Lion. It is an epic adventure film with scenes of massed horsemen, fluttering flags and cavalry charges reminiscent of Lawrence of Arabia (1962); indeed Milius is open about his debt to David Lean and even shot some scenes in Spain in the same locations used in Lawrence of Arabia. His film does look stunning with, in the days before CGI, masses of real horsemen, flags, horses and dust but whereas Lawrence of Arabia was always a serious film The Wind and the Lion has a very different sense of irreverent, mischievous, almost absurdist, fun that permeates the proceedings.
Sean Connery can be a Russian submarine captain, a dragon or here a Berber Arab with the same Scottish burr. Apparently they tried to teach him an Arabic accent but gave up the attempt after three days! I don’t think he makes a very convincing Arab despite the beard and whiskers, because we know it is always Connery under that hair and those robes, but as this is still the charming Connery we all know and love it really does not matter. Vladek Sheybal is the clichéd devious Arab who had, indeed, appeared with Connery before, in From Russia with Love (1963). Brian Keith is a larger than life Teddy Roosevelt, and has a lot of fun comparing the American characteristics to that of a grizzly bear he has just shot and is about to get stuffed for the Smithsonian!
The Wind and the Lion is based on a real incident that occurred in Morocco, although the American kidnapped was a male expatriate, not a woman. Milius changed the sex of the American and added the children, the Marines’ attack and capture of the Bashaw and the battle with the Germans at the end. But why let the facts get in the way of a good story, which is what The Wind and the Lion definitely is. Milius in the commentary on this disc refers to his film a number of times as “Kipplingesque”, which perfectly sums up its style and tone; a colourful, old fashioned, rollicking, derring-do adventure that is a heap of fun.
The Wind and the Lion is presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, 16x9, in NTSC.
The vintage featurette included on this DVD shows how the film might have looked! Instead, filmed by cinematographer Billy Williams, who later won an Oscar for Gandhi (1982), the widescreen desert environments with riders silhouetted against the sands or the red / yellow sun, horsemen with flags leaving their camp or galloping at guns and the American outdoors (all filmed in Spain) look stunning. There is some softness in long shots with riders moving through clouds of dust, but close-ups of faces and Connery’s whiskers are firm. Colours are bright and natural, blacks solid and shadow detail good. Brightness and contrast is consistent, skin tones fine. There are a number of minute specks and occasional motion blur with movement against rocks but this 40 + year old film looks very good.
English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.
The layer change at 54:35 immediately after a scene change resulted in a slight pause.
The audio choices are English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and French Dolby Digital 1.0 at 192 Kbps. The audio commentary is also Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps. Theatrically, The Wind and the Lion was released with both mono audio (35 mm prints) and 6 track audio (70 mm prints).
The Wind and the Lion was nominated for Oscars for Best Music for Jerry Goldsmith’s score and for Best Sound, but lost out in both categories to Jaws. The 5.1 audio on this DVD release is good although nothing special. Dialogue is recorded at a lower level to the effects and is sometimes difficult to hear clearly. The effects are often front oriented although bird calls, surf, war cries and music occur in the rears. This was ramped up during the battle at the climax with cannons, gunshots, yells, thundering hooves and explosions. The subwoofer supported the score, crashing surf, explosions, cannon fire and hooves. The score by Jerry Goldsmith was suitably epic and grand adding to the majestic feel of the film.
Lip synchronisation is fine.
|Surround Channel Use|
Although there are pauses and gaps and Milius often says “I love this”, he is an engaging speaker as he talks about the real life event that is the basis of the film and changes he made from what actually happened in Morocco in 1904, his intention of making a Victorian derring-do adventure, the casting, locations, the influence of David Lean and Lawrence of Arabia, his own cameo in the film, his working methods including using no storyboards and “taking advantage of the moment”, the historical accuracy of the costumes, his admiration for Teddy Roosevelt; he also identifies the many horse falls taken by stuntman Terry Leonard and talks about the music.
This vintage extra, filmed at the time of shooting, consists of on-set footage, mostly focusing on writer / director John Milius, film clips and brief comments by some of the cast and crew including Sean Connery and Candice Bergen. Included is some fascinating footage of the company setting up and filming the charge of the horsemen into the German guns. Faded colours and artefacts, but nevertheless still interesting.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Region 1 US DVD release of The Wind and the Lion is the same as this NTSC, All Region release.
In The Wind and the Lion writer / director John Milius has delivered a spectacular action adventure infused with a star cast and a mischievous sense of fun. Old fashioned it may be, with a PG rating, but what is not to like about a feisty heroine, desert landscapes and massed horsemen charging into the face of cannons?
The previous release in Australia of The Wind and the Lion 15 years ago was reviewed on this site here. That release only had trailers for other films as extras and a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. The reviewer noted that the video was very good, so if you are only interested in the film and have that DVD that should be fine. If however you are a fan of the film the excellent commentary, the 5.1 audio and interesting, if short, featurette make a purchase warranted.
The video and the audio are fine. The extras are worthwhile.
The Wind and the Lion was supplied for review by ViaVision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|