THE PRINCESS AND THE WARRIOR
Columbia TriStar Home Ent., $29.95
TOM TYKWER, writer-director of Run Lola Run, traded sprints for swoops in last year's Princess (on DVD Jan. 29). We meet said warrior dangling from a bridge with the camera tight on his face. Then, in a soaring arc, the camera floats away to launch the story—and leave viewers wondering how Tykwer got that shot.
The German auteur reveals Princess' secrets via no-frills, informative fare: two commentary tracks, five deleted scenes, and a 35-minute making-of documentary. Subtitles translate the movie and single-disc extras; Tykwer speaks English for his commentary. After we learn that the first cut ran more than an hour longer than the final 129-minute film, Tykwer and his editor demonstrate how they (thankfully!) trimmed "a lot of branches off a very large tree."
Those snipped scenes feature the work of serious supporting actors, who discuss how they imbued their characters with depth beyond what's seen on-screen. One fascinating sequence asks the thespians to summarize the movie's wide-ranging plot: Traffic accident sparks a chain of events that fosters romance between an ex-soldier and a nurse (Franka Potente—Lola to you).
Dark-dressed, detail-obsessed Germans dissecting the art of cinema? Sounds dull, and the DVD does err toward too much info. But from the minutiae an engaging portrait of Tykwer emerges. He's a brainy, genial chap who admits his faults (and his script's) and is generous with praise for colleagues—notably cinematographer Frank Griebe. And, in case you wondered, they got that amazing opening shot with a remote-control camera on a crane.
NO SUCH EFFECTS were required with Atlantis: The Lost Empire, an impressive animated kid flick debuting on DVD Jan. 29. If it didn't get the box-office respect it deserved, the PG- rated Atlantis is well suited for home viewing with an entire second disc of cool features for youngsters to explore. For adults, Woody's The Curse of the Jade Scorpion arrives on the same date—apparently without his commentary. There's also Rock Star (if you're into Mark Wahlberg) and the dreadful Rat Race (if you're insane). Meanwhile, the Criterion Collection just issued a lavish two-disc set of Children of Paradise (if you love great French cinema).