MAJOR DUNDEE BLU RAY REVIEW

The myth and legend of MAJOR DUNDEE, revolves much around its director, Sam Peckinpah. Fresh from the success of RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY,  Peckinpah was courted by the studios and he keenly accepted. In the beginning shall be your end and this would begin the combustible relationships he would have with producers, often for control of the cut. Later, for the control of his drinking and drug taking.

Charlton Heston is Major Amos Dundee, described in the notes as vainglorious but think more, desperate to appear heroic. He fought for the Union and excelled to Cavalry officer. However, he is given a soft posting and so when he can lead an expedition to hunt down Apache war chief Sierra Charriba, he leaps for it. Now the obvious note here, is that of men. Peckinpah love to explore masculinity via the perceived weakness of failure. Dundee is a classic Peckinpah lead. Obsessed, oppressed and observed by everyone as trapped.

Dundee uses an army of criminals, ex-slaves and Confederate POWs to build a force to hunt Charriba.  Captain Ben Tyreen (Richard Harris) is one of the Confederate ilk. He had a friendship with Dundee but after the war, this lapsed. The second classic note of Peckinpah, two men at odds. Both strong, both potent, both out to prove something. These juxtapositions are often acidic and in MAJOR DUNDEE, they melt the screen. They also underline the intelligence of the director, cast and the script. Prodding male convergence, probing masculine cohesion.

MAJOR DUNDEE is a missed masterpiece. It would not be the first time that Peckinpah had a movie taken away from him, but it would be the most revealing. The hues, the characters, the cuts, the stifled camaraderie. Peckinpah felt the two inside his art and his person. MAJOR DUNDEE deserved a revisit and it has been given it in some detail by Arrow.

DISC

The two versions on offer here, have been around before but not on Blu in the UK. The 4K scan aside, little is new. The 4K scan on the Extended version (in my opinion the better version) is actually a 1080p rip but it will suffice. Not much is lost. by this I mean the earth tones are there. The light is there. The water is…you get it.

 

EXTRAS

Arrow have outdone themselves (now that is a claim!). On the first disc (with the extended version) are the best extras behind the stunning booklet. Commentaries are all very good, but my preferred one is Nick Redman, David Weddle, Garner Simmons, Paul Seydor. They talk the film behind the scenes and less the later politics of the film (for that listen to Glenn Erickson & Alan K. Rode). However I have to say my favourite piece is Moby Dick on Horseback, a brand new visual essay by David Cairns. Cairns excites often but here he actually finishes. The comparisons are apt, the insight warm and rich, and that use of frame exploration, inspirational!

TWO-DISC LIMITED EDITION BLU-RAY CONTENTS

  • The 136-minute Extended Version of the film from a 4K scan, as well as the original 122-minute Theatrical Version
  • 60-page perfect bound booklet featuring new writing by Farran Nehme, Roderick Heath and Jeremy Carr plus select archive material
  • Limited edition packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella
  • Fold out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella

DISC ONE – EXTENDED VERSION

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a 4K scan by Sony Pictures
  • DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio with new score by Christopher Caliendo
  • Lossless original mono audio with original score by Daniele Amfitheatrof
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary with Nick Redman, David Weddle, Garner Simmons, Paul Seydor
  • Audio commentary by historian and critics Glenn Erickson & Alan K. Rode
  • Audio commentary by historian and critic Glenn Erickson
  • Moby Dick on Horseback, a brand new visual essay by David Cairns
  • Passion & Poetry: The Dundee Odyssey, a feature length documentary about the making of Major Dundee by Mike Siegel, featuring James Coburn, Senta Berger, Mario Adorf, L.Q. Jones, R.G. Armstrong, Gordon Dawson
  • Passion & Poetry: Peckinpah Anecdotes, nine actors talk about working with legendary director Sam Peckinpah, featuring Kris Kristofferson, Ernest Borgnine, James Coburn, David Warner, Ali MacGraw, L.Q. Jones, Bo Hopkins, R.G. Armstrong, Isela Vega
  • Mike Siegel: About the Passion & Poetry Project, in which filmmaker Mike Siegel talks about his beginnings and his ongoing historical project about director Sam Peckinpah
  • Extensive stills galleries, featuring rare on set, behind the scenes, and marketing materials
  • 2005 re-release trailer

DISC TWO – THEATRICAL VERSION (LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE)

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation from a 2K scan
  • Lossless original mono audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Riding for a Fall, a vintage behind the scenes featurette
  • Extended/deleted scenes
  • Silent Outtakes
  • Select extended/deleted scenes and outtakes with commentary by historian and critic Glenn Erickson giving context on how they were intended to appear in Peckinpah’s vision of the film
  • Original US, UK and German theatrical trailers
  • Stills gallery

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