Review of "How the West Was Won (Ultimate Collector's Edition)" From The TV MegaSite
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DVD TV Show Reviews

How the West Was Won (Ultimate Collector's Edition) (1962)

by Suzanne 11/11/08

This is a really cool collectible set to own, whether you are a film buff or western fan or not.

Usually a DVD will have extras within the DVD's themselves, but this special set comes with more extras in the box than in the DVD.

First, the box. It is a really nice faux cowhide box with three smaller boxes that fold out. One of the boxes holds the three DVD disks. The other boxes have many many photos for you to look at. There is a set of black and white photos (postcard-like) from behind the scenes of the movie. There is another set of colored photos from the movie. There is the "Exhibitor's Campaign Book" which has all of the promotional info about the movie. Then there's also a little booklet about the movie with details and more photos. The boxes also have small, built-in photos of the stars of the movie. It's quite a collection to own just for these extras.

There are three disks. This is a very long movie (5 hours from what I can tell by looking at the disks). If it had been made two decades later, it would no doubt have been a miniseries. It has a huge cast full of stars from the 40's through 60's. It covers the history of one family (and America) through 50 years from 1839 to 1889. It's what they call "an epic", for sure.

The movie was the first made in a film process called "Cinerama". The Cinerama screen was curved and allowed you to see a very wide sight, and it's filmed using three different cameras. You can find more information about it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinerama
Apparently it's very expensive to make, which is why they don't use it any more. IMAX is something similar but apparently not quite as good, from what I have read.

The movie is good if you like old westerns and don't mind how long they are. You'll need a few interruptions. I will write more on the actual movie a little later as I am still watching it.

The quality of the DVD is awesome. They did a great job of remastering it for DVD. Since it was originally shot with Cinerama, it was a lot of work for them. It was well worth the effort.

Strangely, there are not a lot of DVD features, like you might expect. There is extensive commentary if you like that sort of thing. Personally, I like to watch the movie and hear comments about it separately, but that's just me. There is a fascinating documentary all about Cinerama and how it was invented and used, "Cinerama Adventure". Otherwise, the only feature on the DVD's is the theatrical trailer. I guess they figure the long movie and all of the external extras, plus the commentaries, are enough. I would have liked to have seen some featurettes about the actors, and maybe some recollections from whichever of the stars are still alive. But otherwise, this is a fabulous set. Those are very minor complaints.

You can read more extensive reviews, or buy the set, at Amazon by clicking on the box!


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Updated 11/11/08  

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