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Warner Home Video presents
The Wind and the Lion (1975)

"Mrs. Pedecaris, you are a great deal of trouble."
- Mulay Achmed Mohammed el-Raisuli the Magnificent (Sean Connery)

Review By: Jeff Ulmer  
Published: January 06, 2004

Stars: Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, Brian Keith, John Huston
Other Stars: Simon Harrison, Polly Gottesmann, Geoffrey Lewis, Steve Kanaly, Vladek Sheybal, Nadim Sawalha, Roy Jenson, Deborah Baxter, Jack Cooley, Chris Aller, Antoine St. John
Director: John Milius

MPAA Rating: PG for (violence)
Run Time: 01h:59m:06s
Release Date: January 06, 2004
UPC: 012569562226
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A AA-A C+

DVD Review

Chosen by the fans in their 2003 AOL poll, Warner digs into their catalog with John Milius' 1975 classic action adventure, The Wind and the Lion. While inspired by a true story, Milius admittedly took many liberties in its retelling, his poetic licence working to present an epic adventure harkening back to old Hollywood. At its heart is a love story with larger-than-life characters in a situation completely out of hand, and here it succeeds. The settings are grand and spectacular, the plot intricate, the perils many.

The story opens in Tangiers, Morocco in 1904, where an American expatriot, Mrs. Eden Pedecaris, and her two children are kidnapped by el-Raisuli the Magnificent, sheriff of the Riffian Berbers. The move is designed as a measure stir up embarrassment on the global stage for the reigning Sultan who is flirting with international powers, threatening Morocco's sovereignty. A world away, the news comes to President Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Keith), who is warming up for a re-election drive, and the Moroccan situation poses a worthy campaign issue. This flagrant act is just the sort of thing needed to demonstrate American resolution to the safety of its citizens, no matter where they may be.

"Pedecaris alive, or Raisuli dead!" - President Roosevelt

But the Raisuli also presents a dilemma for Roosevelt—on one hand he is an effrontery to the United States, while on the other, the president recognizes an honorability in his foe that earns his admiration. Likewise, the Raisuli seeks out the character of his enemy from his captive, whose representation of her president also presents an honorable man, worthy of respect. As both sides set up their next moves, the new world order and the ancient codes of conflict are about to clash in the desert as the world powers look to strengthen their hegemony in the region.

"He has the way about him, doesn't he?" - William Pedecaris

Cinematographer Billy Williams (Women in Love, On Golden Pond) captures the exotic locations and plentiful action sequences with flair, under conscious direction to the stylings of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. The opening sequence is but the first taste of the spectacular action awaiting, as the Raisuli's band charge through the narrow streets of Tangiers on horseback before crashing through the gates where their quarry is lunching. While judiciously cutting away from anything excessively horrific, Milius never shys away from the violence. By the same token, he also handles the quieter and lighter character moments skillfully. It is obvious that the cast and crew had a fun time with this film, as it never feels forced.

The casting is brilliant. Connery carries the self-centered but honorable figure of the Raisuli off without a hitch, with Bergen—a fortuitous last minute replacement for Faye Dunaway—as the headstrong Pedecaris a worthy adversary. Their chemistry is perfect, maintaining an underlying tension without obsessing over an eventual romantic payoff, and their discourse is full of biting wit. Brian Keith excels as Roosevelt, as a noble, but calculating commander. Even the youngest members of the cast bring their own magic to the story, as Simon Harrison and Polly Gottesmann as the Pedecaris children hold their own against their adult costars. Jerry Goldsmith's excellent score (part of which he would borrow for future Star Trek motion pictures) crowns the achievement, suiting the film impeccably. It doesn't get any better than this.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Warner presents The Wind and the Lion in a new, anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are well saturated and black levels are solid. Detail is excellent, and there are no annoying compression issues to ruin the intricate backgrounds used in the film. There is some dust and specks in the source material in a few places, but overall, the image quality here vastly exceeds any other version I've seen.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Monoyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: A new 5.1 mix was created for this release which for the most part is extremely satisfying. Directional dialogue is present, but the surrounds aren't over used or gimmicky. The only area that is a little wanting is in the extreme lower register, which is just a bit light, but this minor complaint aside, the track sounds very good, and is free of any technical defects. A decent sounding mono track is available in French.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by John Milius
Packaging: Snapper
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL

Extras Review: Warner has added a couple of worthy extras to the disc, including a newly recorded commentary track by director John Milius. Although a little dry in its delivery at times, the track contains a wealth of interesting trivia about the film, the origins of the story, and the shooting. A welcomed bonus.

A vintage, ten-minute "making of" featurette focuses on the final battle sequence, while also allowing some on-camera comments from the stars and director.

On the packaging front, although we are still stuck with a snapper case, Warner gets marks for chosing to use the original poster art for the cover.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

Of all of Milius' work, The Wind and the Lion is easily my favorite. Connery, Bergen, and Keith are in top form, and the epic story builds to a spectacular finale. Warner has done a respectable job with this DVD release, and if you are looking for a topnotch adventure film, you need look no further. Highly recommended.

 


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