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Beautifully acted by a solid cast and sensitively directed by Academy Award winner Ang Lee, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN ($30) is definitely one of the best films of 2005. This fascinating character study tells a very universal story about longing and trying to find fulfillment in this world. Spanning a period of approximately twenty years, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN plays out the relationship between two cowboys, who meet in 1963, while herding sheep. When we first meet Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) they appear to be typical Marlboro Men, however being isolated with each other over the course of a summer, they develop a friendship that leads to something more intimate. While the two cowboys go back to their respective lives, each marrying and having children, the two can never escape their feelings for one another; resulting in a series of "fishing trips" in the isolated wilderness of where they met.

Heath Ledger gives a truly outstanding introspective performance in which he underplays everything, rarely letting down his guard; Ledger maintains a leathery cowboy persona, even when his character’s heart is breaking. Jake Gyllenhaal is also exceedingly good, bringing to life a character ready to confront his feelings and the world- even if the world was still decades away from being ready for him. Additionally, Michelle Williams delivers a terrific supporting performance as Ennis‘ long-suffering wife Alma. The solid cast of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN also features Randy Quaid, Anne Hathaway, Kate Mara, Valerie Planche, Graham Beckel, David Harbour, Roberta Maxwell, Peter McRobbie, Anna Faris and Linda Cardellini.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation significantly improves the SD DVD, but BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN isn’t going to make anyone’s pile of demonstration quality discs. Image sharpness and detail are quite good and there is a nice sense of dimensionality to the outdoor cinematography. Colors are rendered at a natural level of saturation and the flesh tones appear realistic. Blacks appear accurate, whites are stable and the picture produces smooth contrast and good shadow detail. The elements from which BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN are transferred appear very clean. Grain is modest and only really makes its presence known in darker sequences.

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. The sonic quality is similar to what was present on the DVD release, only with improved fidelity. Much of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN plays in talky drama mode, so there are few opportunities for the sound design to show off. Like the DVD, the sound design has an open and effortless quality that makes good use of the outlying channels. Occasional active sound effects are convincingly rendered throughout the soundstage. Fidelity is strong for both sound effects and music. The bottom end of the track comes into play on occasion to provide impact, but otherwise, the sound demonstrates a weighty quality. Dialogue reproduction is natural and fully intelligible. French and Spanish DTS 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements, may of which have been ported from the DVD release. On Being A Cowboy runs five minutes and takes one to cowboy camp with the actors. Directing From The Heart: Ang Lee clocks in at seven minutes and focuses on the contributions of the Academy Award winning director. From Script To Screen: Interviews With Larry McMurtry And Diana Ossana is ten-minute program that focuses the film’s writers. Sharing The Story: The Making Of Brokeback Mountain is largely a twenty-one minute promo piece for the film featuring cast & crewmembers. Newer programs include A Groundbreaking Success (seventeen minutes) and Music From The Mountain (eleven minutes). A montage of sill images concludes the standard supplements. BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is a beautifully acted and sensitively directed film. The Blu-ray presentation marks a significant upgrade from the DVD. Recommended.



Brokeback Mountain [Blu-ray] (2005)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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