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Pleasantville (1998) Amazon
Director: Gary Ross

I knew this was a very interesting movie. And after hearing Gary Ross (who not only directed, but also wrote and produced this film) talk about the making of Pleasantville, I now know this is an incredible movie. A very drama-based premise in a comedic based scenario. While Tobey Maguire is great in this film, Reese Witherspoon takes it to a whole new level – well, IMHO anyways. This film was nominated for 3 Oscars in Costume, Music, and Art Direction.

    • Audio Commentary by Gary Ross
    • The “Making of” Featurette
    • Isolated Score with running commentary by Randy Newman
    • Music Video
    • Cast and Crew (text based)
    • Color Television Setup (still images for you to adjust your set)
    • Theatrical Trailer

The running audio commentary by Gary Ross is a real treat. A very articulate speaker with a nice easy style. You get a real sense of Gary’s immense skill as a director. The decisions he made to further the goals of the movie, his understanding of the actors, his personal history and how it affected his work – really cool stuff. Gary talks about specific scenes and references to other movies. For example: Reference Citizen Cane and the scene where the Chamber of Commerce pin is given to William H. Macy by the late J.T. Walsh. And Gary talks about the first painting we see from the art book (shown to Jeff Daniels) The World of Art—Masaccio’s Expulsion from the Garden of Eden and it’s significance to the heart of the movie. He talks about how transitions should be subtle and not an obvious moving from Act to Act. Throughout the commentary he gives a really eye opening reveal of the social commentary aspect of this film. There is a lot going on in this movie and I certainly did not realize when I first watched it.

The Art of Pleasantville is a 30 minute piece on the special effects. They start off with the scene where Tobey covers Joan Allen’s skin to hide the color. They talk in detail about the difficulties and processes used to achieve a believable transition for her. In fact all the skin effects were especially difficult as the movie was shot in color and post processed to appear black and white AND transition to color throughout the film. You even get to see the scene where Jeff Daniels removes her makeup IN COLOR before it is processed into black and white.

John Lindley talks about the technical aspects of his job as cinematographer as it relates to the difficulties and processes of making Pleasantville. I thought it was really cool to see the enormous storyboard “bound book” as he thumbs through it.

We get to visit Frank Romero in his studio (he did the brick wall mural in the movie). A pivotal piece in the movie. He talks in detail about the mural, life, Jeff Daniel’s character, and the serious underlying nature of the film.  

The Isolated Score with running commentary by Randy Newman is fascinating. Not many isolated scores have a commentary and Randy has a lot to say. He talks about the art of scoring such a film, motivations, historical perspectives, and all with his unique sense of humor. A very nice piece of extra feature.

The Music Video extra is pretty good (Across the Universe Lennon–McCartney sung by Fiona Apple). I generally don’t like music videos but, this was done in a very stylish cinematic way. Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson.

You have to check out the extras on this DVD. It has something for everyone. The fan, the actor, the director, the music, the producer.

I give it ★★★★★