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story.lead_photo.caption Kevin Costner as the depressed Lt. John Dunbar, who develops a deep appreciation for the Lakota people in Dances With Wolves, a film he also directed and produced.

A collector's edition of Kevin Costner's monumental 1990 Western Dances With Wolves is on offer in limited-edition steelbook packaging. "Only 10,000 manufactured -- Collect It While It Lasts!" touts a sticker on the cover of the DVD.

Included is the theatrical cut (with a running time of nearly four hours) of the film that won seven Academy Awards (including best picture) and critics' raves, an extended cut with audio commentaries featuring Costner and other filmmakers, and bonus features such as making-of featurettes, music videos, a photo montage, TV spots and trailers.

This movie has a special place in my heart (so does Clockwork Orange, but for different reasons).

In November 1990, I was a features reporter at the Arkansas Gazette, which had loaned me to its parent organization, Gannett, for a four-month stint in the features department of USA Today in Arlington, Va. When the Gazette's features editor found out that Dances With Wolves -- heavily hyped far in advance of its release -- was holding its world premiere at the Cineplex Odeon Uptown Theater in Washington, he asked if I wanted to attend.

Kevin Costner? A Western? Horses? Wolves? Freelance payment? Sure.

The glory that eventually descended on the film wasn't replicated that evening. As the lights went down and the screening started in front of a packed house, the projector at the Uptown blew its bulb. We sat patiently until the bulb was fixed, which took, as I recall, a considerable period of time. Then the film started again -- with the projectionist showing the wrong reel. Another delay ensued.

Joe Costner, then 2 years old, the son of director/co-producer/star Kevin Costner, then 35 years old and best known as a pretty boy rather than a filmmaker, loudly asked his dad, "Is it over?"

"That's a good word for it, Joe," Costner replied, sure that the interruption had cost him him his audience, a mixture of film reviewers and locals who had paid the then-hefty price of $25 to attend the screening, a benefit for the National Museum of the American Indian (which opened in September 2004) and the Resident Associate Program of the Smithsonian Institution.

After straightening out the stacks of reels, the story unfolded. The audience? Enthralled.

Costner wasn't convinced, at least not that evening.

"There are no excuses between you and me for Dances With Wolves," said the deflated director during an interview at Washington's Ritz Carlton following the premiere. "It's OK for a movie not to be good, but it's terrible for one not to try to be good."

He needn't have worried. Dances With Wolves -- his directorial debut in which he plays Lt. John Dunbar, a Civil War hero who finds his true identity interacting with Indians on the American frontier, broke ground with its use of American Indian actors such as Graham Greene, Rodney A. Grant, Floyd Red Crow Westerman, and Tantoo Cardinal (often speaking the Sioux native language of Lakota, supported with subtitles), a 3,500-buffalo stampede, a 180-day shoot (24 days over schedule) and a budget of $18 million (it ran three percent over that) -- boasts a domestic total gross of $184,208,848, according to Box Office Mojo.

The release of this collector's edition Blu-ray (list price $29.97) will likely crank the figure even higher.

MovieStyle on 11/23/2018

Print Headline: Flashback: Dances With Wolves (1990)

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