Dances With Wolves: Ben Glass
Joshua Rich
May 23, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

Current Status
In Season
Kirk Douglas, James Mason
Richard Fleischer
Walt Disney Pictures

We gave it an A-

Director-star Kevin Costner’s exhaustive Western ”Dances With Wolves” has always gotten a mixed rap. For the legions moved by its Spielbergian crescendos, just as many cynics have griped that it’s too PC. For every fan pleased that it won Best Picture, there’s a hardcore geek who’ll never forgive it for thwarting Martin Scorsese’s ”GoodFellas” Oscar bid.

Sure, the long-winded epic will never be a classic — a fact that Dances With Wolves: Special Edition, with an extra hour of well-crafted if unnecessary footage, can’t disprove. But the set’s four above-par commentaries, two revealing though repetitive production documentaries, and countless testimonials about the romantic joys of staging a buffalo hunt on the South Dakota tundra underscore the fact that ”Wolves” is a filmmaking tour de force. And thanks largely to Aussie Dean Semler’s camera work and Brit John Barry’s music, both landmarks in a mostly American genre, it’s also an effective, if occasionally trivial, piece of storytelling.

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