The inspirational story about one of the most remarkable feats in sports history, SECRETARIAT, comes to Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray™ + DVD), DVD and Movie Download on January 25, 2011 by Walt Disney Studios. This powerful and thrilling journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner and its owner Penny Chenery, played by Academy Award® and Golden Globe nominee Diane Lane, brings hope, heart and courage to audiences of all ages making SECRETARIAT a perfect film to add to the home library. The home entertainment debut of the critically acclaimed SECRETARIAT will keep audiences engaged for hours on end with never-before-shared in-depth interviews with Penny Chenery, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, deleted scenes and more on the story of one of the greatest accomplishments in sports history.
Disney presents an astonishing true story bursting with hope, heart and courage. Diane Lane and John Malkovich lead a celebrated cast in this inspirational motion picture from the producers of Miracle, Invincible and The Rookie. Behind every legend, lies an impossible dream. Witness the spectacular journey of an incredible horse named Secretariat and the moving story of his unlikely owner, a housewife who risked everything to make him a champion. Out of the gate with never-before-seen bonus features, Secretariat is hours of pulse-pounding entertainment for the whole family!
I saw the trailer for this film and knew exactly what it was. Not the story, per say, although growing up only a few hours away from Lexington, KY the amount of derby talk in my life is probably higher than most. But no, the film had all the makings of a Disney feel-good film. It has the underdogs trying to fight for what they believe in when everyone around them says no and in the end you know they’re going to triumph and you’re going to get a smile on your face and maybe shed a few tears. Regardless if you have a connection to the situation their in or just the characters themselves, there’s always something in these movies that make you feel triumphant even though you’re only the viewer. These types of film are somewhat of Disney’s specialty and for as many of them that I’ve seen, they never really get old. I can predict the outcome a mile way but I still can’t wait to see the final conclusion when our various cast triumphs and succeeds in their goals.
Stepping into the world of Secretariat is of course a time warp since it falls back into the 70s era when times were simpler (or something) and everyone loved America. While there is a very narrow focus of this film in that it doesn’t talk about anything else but horses for the most part (there are some kind of off-hand elements with some anti-war ties, but they are not [and rightfully so] the focus of the film). This does make the film feel very shallow in subject matter, but at the same time it opens it up to just talk about the horses and derby’s. There’s a lot of talk about how stables are “mans territory” and how Diane Keaton’s character has to overcome all of that and in the end she’s as triumphant as the horse (spoilers I guess?).
While the film is a far cry from a briskly paced film with its two hour run time, the setup of the film is much like the race at the end of the film. There’s a lot of prep to build up to it but once you get to it, you’re so prepared to overwhelm the audience that you can’t help but feel excessive amounts of joy and elation at the sight of a horse barreling down the track. It’s such a simple concept and the story itself is, as I’ve said repeatedly, absolutely formulaic in every way imaginable. But it just doesn’t matter. It really and truly doesn’t matter if you already know the ending of this film. As isolated as these success stories may be in real life, they’re a dime a dozen in Hollywood…and you’re often hard pressed not to find them uplifting in some way.
There’s a lot to enjoy about this film; whether it’s the locations, cinematography or just the superb acting by all involved (although obviously Keaton and Malkovich will draw the most attention), Secretariat is a hard film to ignore and one that definitely comes Recommended. Unless you have no heart and/or soul, in which case you can ignore it I guess.
The film arrives in a standard Elite Blu-ray case with an embossed slipcover and the usual array of inserts inside. The pair of discs inside are the Blu-ray and DVD copies and once again no digital copy is present—maybe Disney is moving way from these? Who knows? In any case the presentation (in terms of packaging, at least) is well done for this film and the subdued cover has just enough ambience going for it that it’ll draw more than a few eyes towards it.
Video for this film, an AVC encoded effort, is by and large a real treat. Whether it’s the period clothing or cars or the general subdued nature of the color palette (which as a result offers up a lot of pastel-like colors rather than anything truly vibrant and eye-popping…although there are a few of those as well), everything looks appropriately detailed and clear here. I particularly love the outdoor shots of the horses on the tracks as their gleaming coats really just shine and the dirt they kick up is really just remarkable to behold on a nice big set. Having said that there are a few moments where blacks become almost smokey at times rather than the deep colors they should be; possibly an effect that was intentional with the overall light color palette that the film already has, but it’s nonetheless distracting, especially during nighttime sequences.
Audio is thankfully devoid of any problems whatsoever, with full DTS-HD MA 5.1 thundering about the room with not only ample LFE output but also plenty of surround sound work kicking in at all the right moments. Scenes with dialogue are brought front and center (unless camera directionality calls for it to be otherwise) and every hoof pound on the ground just reverberates around the room in a spectacular fashion. While a lot of the film is quiet, whenever the racing kicks up it’s a real aural treat—especially when it’s paired with the films equally impressive orchestral score.
• Choreographing The Races – This piece looks at how director Randall Wallace and the filmmakers used innovative tools and technology to accurately and excitingly recreate the Triple Crown races that make the viewer feel like they are standing on the backstretch themselves.
• A Director’s Inspiration: A Conversation With The Real Penny Chenery – Director Randall Wallace sits down with Secretariat owner Penny Chenery to review the movie and some of the key scenes. Penny reflects on what it was like to have been a woman in a male dominated sport and to have been part of horse racing’s most exciting moments in history.
• Audio Commentary By Director Randall Wallace – View the film with optional audio commentary from Director Randall Wallace.
• Secretariat Multi-Angle Simulation – Relive Secretariats triumphant 1973 Preakness race by viewing the race from a number of perspectives as well as listening to commentaries from fans, announcers and even the jockey who rode Secretariat to their record finish.
• Heart Of A Champion – This feature takes a look at one of the most famous thoroughbred horses ever known. Secretariat was a horse with style as well as amazing speed and an unsurpassed racing record. We interview all the key players from the day as well as today’s filmmakers to learn more about the horse affectionately called “Red.”
• Deleted Scenes With Optional Audio Commentary By Director Randall Wallace
o Director Introduction
o Seth Joins The Team
o Too Soon To Celebrate
o Alternate Opening
o “Are You A Golfer?”
o No Time To Rest
• Music Video – AJ Michalka “It’s Who You Are”
All told there is over an hours worth of extras not including the commentary so when you pile everything up you end up with over three hours of goodies to sort and pick through after you watch the film itself. The commentary is really quite good since Wallace delves into everything imaginable about the production; I really enjoyed it quite a bit and while I doubt I’d ever listen to it again it’s definitely worth checking out if you enjoyed the film as much as I did.
Overall a Highly Recommended release.
Secretariat is now available on Blu-ray + DVD combo pack and DVD.