Fox // 2005 // 136 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Kent Dixon (Retired) // March 1st, 2010
Because you're mine, I walk the line.
When I first saw Walk the Line, I found that I knew embarrassingly little about Johnny Cash, his music, and especially the early parts of his career. For instance, not only did I never make the connection that he was a contemporary of Elvis, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis, I also had no idea that the eventual legends toured the U.S. together over a two-year period. Needless to say, my first experience with the film was a revelation of significant proportions. A beautifully crafted and engaging film, I was anxious to see how Fox would treat it in HD.
On the surface Walk the Line is a biopic, retelling the factual events that surrounded the life of Johnny Cash and later, his wife June Carter, but the film is also so much more. At the same time that it tells the facts and fills out the details of Cash's life; the film conveys deeper messages of second chances and redemption, love between two soul mates and a strength and integrity of character that made Johnny Cash the man he was. Perhaps the greatest gift that the filmmakers gave us with Walk the Line was that it filled in some important gaps for the audience and showed a time before Johnny and June were a team. There is very little record of the early years, so the film really explored new ground by introducing us to Johnny and June as they might have been when they were young.
It's high praise indeed that actors Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon and writer/director James Mangold were essentially handpicked by the Cash family to lead the charge in telling their story. Mangold was lucky to have had relatively unrestricted access to the Cashes as he developed the screenplay; many of the most private and personal moments that are portrayed in the film hadn't been shared before in previous biographical works. Working from a script that was blessed from the start; Witherspoon, Phoenix and Mangold put their considerable talent to work, creating a film that will definitely stand the test of time.
Since Johnny and June were closer to the end of their lives at the time the script and film were being developed, they felt more free to share some of the memories that might have hurt their loved ones. It is no small feat to tell this story to begin with, but to manage to do so in such a skillful and respectful way is an even greater accomplishment. Walk the Line is an exceptional film that shares the story of a very special and talented couple who walked through hell to find each other.
Sadly, Walk the Line makes its debut on Blu-ray as both a pleasure and a disappointment. The visual presentation delivers the film in riveting yet natural colors, impressive fine detail and contrast that is far and away the best the film has looked in anyone's living room. The DTS Master Audio mix is strong and immersive, blending varied elements like dialog, ambient effects and music together beautifully; matching the picture perfectly. Based on the A/V presentation alone, I could easily recommend this hi-def release for purchase with no reservations; if you don't currently own the film, by all means go get it.
The down side is that, for whatever reason, the powers that be at Fox decided not to bother taking the time to bring together all the supplementary features from the various DVD releases that have come before, to make this Blu-ray release a must-have version to add to your library. If you have any of the previous DVD releases of the film (especially the extended version), you'll find the commentary, deleted scenes and a few of the featurettes included here. However, there are some unfortunate absences like the "Becoming Cash/Becoming Carter," "Sun Records and the Johnny Cash Sound" and two other featurettes that dealt with Cash's faith in God and his lasting legacy. While these were all relatively brief, their absence just doesn't make sense, nor does it serve the best interests of the film's many fans.
Fox should be put in a ring of fire for not giving this release the proper
care and attention it deserved!
Review content copyright © 2010 Kent Dixon; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 136 Minutes
Release Year: 2005
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Deleted Scenes
* Official Site