Release Date(s)1992 (September 26, 2017)
Studio(s)TriStar Pictures (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment – Choice Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: B-
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: C+
[Editor’s Note: This is a BD-R release which should work normally on most Blu-ray players.]
Based loosely on the New York Yacht Club’s 1983 loss in the America’s Cup race, Carroll Ballard’s Wind stars Matthew Modine and Jennifer Gray as Will Parker and Kate Bass, former lovers and lifelong competitive sailers. Parker gives up their relationship to take a spot as the helmsman on a professional racing yacht captained by the wealthy Morgan Weld (Cliff Robertson), but they eventually lose the Cup to an Australian team. Though not his fault, Parker took the blame for the loss and wants redemption, so he seeks out Kate a few years later. She’s now an aeronautical engineer living in the desert with her engineer boyfriend Joe (an early role by Stellan Skarsgård). Kate is reluctant to get involved in Parker’s long-shot dreams, but Joe catches the yachting fever and soon – with the help of Weld’s rich daughter – the trio raises the necessary money to design a new boat, reunite their old crew, and take a run at the Cup.
Ballard has a unique flare for telling semi-spiritual stories of humans interacting with the natural world, a tendency on full display in his earlier The Black Stallion (1979) and Never Cry Wolf (1983), and later in Fly Away Home (1996). Under his direction, Wind takes on an almost mythic tone of a kind usually reserved for surfing documentaries like Riding Giants and Step Into Liquid. It features great performances by its young leads, who were then at the height of their film careers, and the cinematography by the great John Toll (Braveheart, Legends of the Fall, The Thin Red Line) delivers some of the greatest sailing footage ever captured on film. Add to this a restrained but evocative score by composer Basil Poledouris and the result is an oft-overlooked gem.
Wind has long deserved a Blu-ray release and it finally has one… sort of (in honor of its 25th anniversary)… in the form of a Sony Choice Collection BD-R, released to almost no fanfare in late 2016. The film is presented in its original 1.85:1 theatrical aspect ratio in 1080p HD. It’s a decent transfer, but certainly not a new one. A guess would be that this was a very early HD master, possibly done by Sony for its original DVD release of the film back in 2003. Detail is decent overall, with medium grain. The contrast is good, with dark blacks, and the colors are generally rich and accurate. There’s no doubt that a new 4K master could improve on the image a lot here, but this is certainly an improvement upon the previous DVD release. Audio is presented in English 2.0 stereo in DTS-HD MA format. Clarity is good, with clean dialogue, and a nice (if forward flattened) soundstage. Optional subtitles are included in English SDH. Note that the BD-R seems to work just fine in several different BD player models.
Surprisingly, there’s one extra (which is one more than the previous DVD included) and that’s a feature-length audio commentary by Matthew Modine, with optional English subtitles of its own. It’s clear that Modine loves this film as he watches along and shares some interesting stories and trivia on the production.
Wind has long been favorite of ours here at The Bits and we’re thrilled to see it finally available in HD at least, even if only on BD-R (though it certainly deserves a legitimate Blu-ray release by Sony – along with Michael Apted’s Thunderheart, for that matter). If you like this cast and/or a great “tilting at windmills” story, this film is worth your time. Just keep your expectations in check in terms of the A/V quality and you should be happy with it.
- Bill Hunt