Crowe plays John Nash, schizophrenic genius. The film follows him from his grad student days at Princeton, to his revolutionary formulation of game theory, to his later breakdown, and climaxes in his reception of the Nobel Prize in 1994. Though overlong, often burdened by an excessively emphatic score by James Horner, and following all the usual conventions of Hollywood melodrama, the film also offers stunning cinematography by Roger Deakins, uncharacteristically good dialogue by Akiva Golds…an (can this be the same man who inflicted Batman and Robin and Lost In Space on us?), and excellent performances, especially on the part of Crowe, whose evocation of Nash is spooky.
Whether Horner’s score always works for you or not, there is no doubt that it is beautifully reproduced on the disc (barring one, and only one, moment when the rear sound wavers). The sound is impeccable, with well-placed surround effects, excellent left-right separation, and dialogue that never disappears in the mix. There is no distortion whatsoever.
The cinematography is perfectly captured by this transfer. The mood shifts from nostalgic warm browns in the early scenes to a much colder blue during the worst of Nash’s illness, and the nuances are clear throughout. Flesh tones, blacks, and contrasts are all above reproach. The only hitch, barring a few instances of edge enhancement visibility, is a badly timed layer transition. One second later and it would have been on a cut, but here it needlessly freezes a shot. The image format is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Loaded. Just loaded. The menu on both discs has a fully animated main page and transitions, and is scored on both main and secondary pages. Disc 1 features two commentary tracks: one by Ron Howard, covering just about everything from technique to theme, and the other by Akiva Goldsman, who overlaps somewhat with Howard but concentrates more on thematic and background concerns. There is a montage of 18 deleted scenes with optional commentary by Howard. (There is, however, no index of scenes.) There are also production notes, cast and filmmakers bios, and DVD-ROM features.
Disc 2 consists primarily of a series of featurettes, with self-explanatory titles: “A Beautiful Partnership: Ron Howard and Brian Graser,” “Development of the Screenplay,” “Meeting John Nash” (which shows just how accurately Crowe nailed him), “Accepting the Nobel Prize in Economics” (footage of the 1994 ceremony), “Casting Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly,” “The Process of Age Progression,” “Storyboard Comparisons,” “Creation of the Special Effects,” “Scoring the Film,” and “Inside A Beautiful Mind: Making of.” The featurettes are generally more interesting than the usual promotional puff. There is also footage of the various winners receiving their Oscars, the theatrical trailer, a list of mental health organizations, and a passel of ads. Oh yeah, and some liner notes.
A very, very solid package. Hard to imagine what more we could ask for in terms of features, and the film looks and sounds gorgeous.
Special Features List
- Ron Howard Commentary
- Akiva Goldsman Commentary
- Deleted Scenes with Ron Howard Commentary
- DVD-ROM Features
- Production Notes
- Cast and Filmmakers Bios
- 10 Featurettes
- 4 Oscar Speeches
- Theatrical Trailer
- Liner Notes
- Mental Health Organizations