THE GREATEST GAME EVER PLAYED (Blu-ray Edition)|
Disney / Buena Vista | 2005 | 121 mins | Rated PG | Jun 16, 2009
Written by David Hillyer
June 22, 2009
In the very early 1900's, golf was a “gentleman's game”. It was played by the rich. The game was a high society affair where the working class could only carry their bags. Then Harry Vardon came along. Harry was gifted. So gifted that despite his working class poverty lineage, he was permitted to play... and win. He won the British Open, the US Open and others.
Along the way, a working class youngster crossed his path. Francis Ouimet was a kid with dreams. He was also gifted. As with any gifted artist, when he had the right tool in his hands, he was amazing. He gripped a golf club and it just fit.
The Greatest Game Ever Played is the true story of golfers Harry Vardon (Stephen Dillane) and Francis Ouimet (Shia LaBeouf). I never really cared to see this movie. I have played golf, just as I have played baseball. I just never cared for the game. The club just didn't fit. I'm also not a fan of Shia LaBeouf. So a movie about golf starring Shia LaBeouf didn't excite me enough to go see or rent it. But the Blu-Ray version landed in my review box and I am glad it did.
This is probably one of my top 5 sports movies ever made. The backstory of normal working class people working their way to be the best they can be in a sport and society that would kick them back down.
The casting was superb. I have seen Shia LaBeouf in several films and was not impressed. But for the first time, I saw subtle facial expressions that communicated far beyond the words of the script. The same could be said of Stephen Dillane and others. Everything from the restrained anger of the oppressed to the delight in Francis' mothers face as she put another newspaper clipping in her scrapbook is captured. This isn't how you have ever seen golf before.
A View from the Gallery: On the Set of The Greatest Game Ever Played (15:22, SD) Interviews several of the main actors and many of the production team. It's a fairly standard EPK piece that studios do for most films. Two Legends and the Greatest Game (6:50 SD) is a historical look back at the 1913 underdog story of Francis Ouimet. This is probably the most interesting of the extras on this disc. It gives a quick but much needed history of the real people in the story and what happened to them after their historic “greatest game”.
From Caddie to Champion: Francis Ouimet (25:15 SD) is a 1963 conversation with Francis Ouimet and host Fred Cusik, shot at the Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Shot in black & white, this is of course shot and edited with the technology of 1963 so don't expect a lot. Significant grain and dirt is on the clip, but it is a fascinating piece and a welcome addition to this movie. Ouimet gives us a short history of pictures on the Country Club walls and some of the clubs of the time. He also goes for a stroll around the grounds and gives his recollections of the story of his improbably win in 1913.
The Greatest Game Ever Played has two feature-length commentarys; the first with director Bill Paxton who gives some great insights on his vision and choices for the film. There are silent gaps but the insight Paxton provides on his visual techniques for the story are amazingly different than I've ever heard before. He gives credit where credit is due and makes several funny reverences to other movies he's been in, including The Terminator. This commentary is essential for any film making student or fan. The second audio commentary with author, screenwriter, and producer Mark Frost gives more insight in the historical background of the lives of the men and the game. Frost provides some great historical insight as well as interesting background of the actual game, shot by shot. He provides context for the film, and again is essential viewing for any student or fan.
The disc also includes sneak peek video clips of Race to Witch Mountain, Hannah Montana: The Movie, Earth, Disney XD, G-Force, Morning Light, and a Blu-Ray Disney Movie Rewards promo.