Into the West (2005)
Featurette-The Making of "Into the West"
Featurette-The Communication Gap
Featurette-The Cast of "Into the West"
|Year Of Production||2005|
|Running Time||524:01 (Case: 523)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (4)
|Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Timothy Van Patten
Paramount Home Entertainment
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.78:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Following the commercial success of World War 2 mini-series Band of Brothers and sci-fi mini-series Taken, Exec Producer Steven Spielberg turned his eye to the Wild West for their next mini-series Into The West. Though a little shorter and more modestly budgeted than Dreamworks Television's previous mini-series, Into The West continues the legacy of quality set by its predecessors.
As a welcome change of pace to most westerns, historical and cultural accuracy are given top priority, particularly on the Native American side of the story. The actors speak the traditional Lakota dialect, which the all had to learn phonetically from a Native American cultural consultant. Into The West also places a lot of emphasis in traditional ceremonies and daily practice that you would not usually see in westerns, even many of those westerns that show particular respect to Native American culture. The cultural aspect to Into The West also manages to play out more naturally than in fare such as Dances With Wolves (which itself did a great job of depicting native culture, and was a more entertaining movie). The cultural aspect occasionally seems a little laborious.
Over the course of six 90 minute episodes, Into The West follows the course of two disparate families in the West over the course of the 19th century (well, 60-odd years of it). The Wheeler family begin their life out West when two young brothers run away from the family wheel-making business seeking adventure and a new family is formed among the pioneers of the West. Coming from the other side of the story, Native American shaman Loved By the Buffalo, his brothers Running Fox and Dogstar and their families see a great change in their way of life as the white man spreads across their lands.
Much like Band of Brothers and Taken, Into The West is largely led by a lesser known central cast and features countless brief appearances from recognisable faces (Josh Brolin, Gary Busey, Sean Astin, Beau Bridges, Lance Henriksen, and Tom Berenger among them). The acting is, pretty much without exception, first rate.
Each episode is directed by somebody different (including Australian veteran western director Simon Wincer), which makes the flow of each episode a little inconsistent with the last. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it keeps the storytelling reasonably fresh, but some episodes work noticeably better than others. Furthermore, the epic storyline proves to be a little bit too epic at times and some aspects of the ongoing story aren't given as much screen-time as they deserve. Despite these flaws, the positives significantly outweigh the negatives in this equation.
The episodes play out as follows:
The film is presented in its original 1.78:1 aspect ratio and is 16x9 enhanced.
The image appears to be a little grainy, but reasonably sharp. Dark scenes in particular display a noticeable level of grain, but do have a reasonable level of detail amidst the grain.
The colours capture a fittingly pale and dusty look throughout the episodes.
A modest degree of macro blocking can be seen throughout each episode, but not enough to be a distraction at any point. A number of film artefacts are visible during the course of each episode. Though none are particularly large, this is somewhat of a surprise for such a recent television series.
English subtitles are white with a black border. Based upon the section I sampled, they appear accurate and well timed.
The three discs containing the actual mini-series are RSDL discs, however the layer break is placed between episodes.
An English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) audio track and a German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384 Kbps) audio track are present.
The dialogue is clearly audible throughout the episodes and appears to be well synchronised throughout. The score is fairly typical of pioneer-era westerns, but incorporates plenty of Native American chanting and drumming where appropriate. The mix is quite clear.
The surround channels are used quite subtly for effects and music, providing quite an engrossing experience. There is modest subwoofer usage where appropriate, though it is most just for the thud of drums and explosions.
|Surround Channel Use|
The extras are presented on a dedicated, single layer disc. They are generally targeted at an educational audience, rather than purely for entertainment, and illustrate the producers desire for Into The West to be adopted by schools.
A rather in-depth 'Making Of' Featurette. There's perhaps a bit much Steven Spielberg worship early on, but once it moves past the hero-worship there are some good parts on the history behind the show, the themes within the show, production design and costuming. Definitely worth a look.
A featurette on the native language used in the series, the troubles it caused settlers back in the day and the pains that the cast and crew went to in order to accurately represent the Lakota dialect in the series. Again, interesting stuff.
A featurette that allows the every man and their dog cast to explain how great their characters are and how/why they portrayed them as they did. ho-hum.
A Sarah McLachlan/Robbie Robertson collaboration on the theme song to the series, backed by a suitably western-pioneer themed video
TV ads for the show.
A standard photo gallery featurette, though the images are small and need to be navigated with the remote.
There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.
The Region 1 edition is identical to the Region 4 edition, save for PAL/NTSC differences. Let's call this one a draw.
Into The West charts the lives of a family of pioneers and a disparate family of Native Americans in the Wild West, over the course of the 19th century. Another fine mini-series from Steven Spielberg, and highly recommended to anybody with an interest in the Wild West.
The extras are quite good, in both quantity and quality. The video transfer is relatively average, not bad but not particularly good either. The audio is quite good.
|DVD||Sony Playstation 3, using S-Video output|
|Display||Samsung 116cm LA46M81BD. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL).|
|Audio Decoder||Pioneer VSX-D512. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||150W DTX front speakers, and a 100W centre and 2 surrounds, 12 inch PSB Image 6i powered sub|