Audio: DD Plus 5.1 English, DD Plus 5.1 French
Subtitles: Optional English SDH and French
Extras: audio commentary by director Vincent Ward; The Making of What Dreams May Come; About the Visual Effects; Alternate Ending; Photo Gallery; trailers; My Scenes
Released: 14 August 2007
The Film: Mr. Ward has created a film that at its most visually evocative portrays its characters’ lives and afterlives as a kind of hall of mirrors, in which the lines between dream and reality, memory and eternity are continually blurring as one gives way to another. At its most seductive, the film portrays heaven as a magical, hallucinatory extension of the physical world that has been left behind. It is a place flooded with dim golden light and thick with flowers, of misty peaks and crags, where people and objects float through the sky and great distances can be breached with a single leap (of faith, of course).
When Chris first arrives in heaven, he finds himself inside one of Annie’s Gothic romantic paintings. After crunching down in a flower bed, he gets up to find himself covered with paint, as though he had landed on a just-completed three-dimensional Renoir canvas that was still wet.
The underworld he visits with the help of a grim-faced guide played by (who else?) Max von Sydow is a grim but PG-13-looking place (when it comes to punishment and suffering) surrounded by burning shipwrecks. In the most powerful image of hell, one that is intensely claustrophobic, Chris is forced to run across a sea of muttering heads all craning up through an endless expanse of mud.
Because the main characters are deeply involved in painting, the 2.35:1 1080p video transfer is often a visual marvel. (The movie won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.) There are some minor specks here and there, and some of the early scenes are a bit soft. However, on the whole, this is a very impressive transfer for a catalog title from pre-2001.
The primary DD Plus 5.1 English track is clean and efficient without making much of an impression. There are some strong moments (such as during traffic accidents and when the music score crescendos), but this is a light mix as far as recent movies go. I was rather surprised because I expected strong sonics to match the strong visuals.
You can also watch the movie with a DD Plus 5.1 French dub. Optional English SDH and French subtitles support the audio.
Director Vincent Ward recorded a sparse, technical audio commentary for an SD-DVD release, and the same yak track appears on this HD-DVD. “The Making of What Dreams May Come” and “About the Visual Effects” are brief overviews of the production. You also get an alternate ending, a photo gallery, and two trailers.
Finally, you can bookmark your favorite moments with “My Scenes”.
An insert advertises other Universal HD-DVDs.