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"Secretariat" {Blu-ray/DVD Combo}
Wayne Klein
Studio: Walt Disney Home Video
Release Date:
Special Features:

Featurettes; deleted scenes, commentary track by director Randall Wallace, music video, DVD included Rated: PG


While "Secretariat" won't win any awards for being 100% faithful to the story of Big Red and his owners, "Secretariat" manages to be powerful, corny, moving and just down right entertaining. "Secretariat" is from the old fashioned school of filmmaking where you actually get to root for the underdogs and see them win. "Secretariat" much like the horse himself comes from behind at full speed and wins strictly on its speed, stamina and charm. ***

Big Red (his real name)came from a family of winners but winners who had speed but not stamina. When housewife Penny Chenery (Diane Lane)inherits her Meadow's Stables from her ailing father (Scott Glenn)she faces challenges immediately; Meadow's Stables is stumbling financially. She sticks to her decision against the wishes of her brother (Dylan Baker) and her husband (Dylan Walsh)to raise and race Big Red. She knows however that she needs a trainer as hungry to win as she is and picks Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich)who must overcome his own issues to successful train Big Red to go all the way to the Triple Crown. ***

Directed by Randall Wallace (writer of "Braveheart" and director of "We Were Soldiers" and "The Man in the Iron Mask")"Secretariat" races by compressing the true story into an exciting two hours. Wallace gets the details of the 60's and early 70's right and the performances are all authentic feeling without any showiness. Director Wallace nicely captures the action particularly during the races themselves using point-of-view shots from a camera on the helmet of the jockey which puts you IN the race itself. While the characters could have had a bit more depth the story really isn't just about the Cherney family and their struggle but about the unique and talented horse himself. ---

Image & Sound:

The Blu-ray looks quite nice in its Blu-ray debut. Colors pop and the distinctive look of the film (which tries to capture the "look" of films from the late 60's and early 70's) is nicely captured in a very good Blu-ray transfer. The use of DNR is a bit heavy handed in my opinion particularly to smooth out some of the lines on Diane Lane's face which results in some loss of skin texture but, over all, the film looks pretty good. The film has nice detail and depth. ***

Audio wins the race with a rich, detailed and very active Lossless 5.1 mix. ---

Special Features:

The film comes with both the Blu-ray edition as well as a DVD and both versions have special features (though not exactly the same ones) which include the following: "Choregraphing the Race"; "A Director's Inspiration and A Conversation with the Real Penny Chenery"; an audio commentary by the director; "Secretariat Multi-Angle Simulation" which allows you to relive a recreation of the breathtaking race from multiple angles. We also get 4 deleted scenes. The DVD has a featurette on the making of the film entitled "Heart of A Champion". Three deleted scenes and a music video.

Final Words:

"Secretariat" is entertaining if not entirely factual in relaying the story of a rare and talented race horse as well as the owner, trainer and rider who believed in him. Recommended.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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