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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 April, 2004, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
DVD review: Master and Commander
By William Gallagher
BBC News Online

Russell Crowe in Master and Commander
Russell Crowe stars as Captain Jack Aubrey in Master and Commander

Oscar-winning sea epic Master and Commander, starring Russell Crowe, has been released on DVD in the UK.

Normally it is just not true that you need a flashy big-screen TV to really appreciate DVD as discs look better than VHS even on black and white portables.

But when it comes to buying Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, you might want to think about picking up a plasma TV set at the same time.

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For Master and Commander glories in its expansive seaborne setting. Otherwise, it is really just a good Hornblower-style naval yarn.

The DVD is on offer at two different prices - 15.99 or 22.99. The more expensive is a two-disc edition, and probably the better option to buy.

And, if you look around, you should be able to find retailers selling it at a cheaper price.

The movie is the same on both - a story of revenge and pride during the Napoleonic wars that is both exciting and at times even exhilarating.

You also get a commentary from Australian director Peter Weir, who won a directing Bafta for this film.

But the two-disc version adds features on the film's special effects plus a Making Of that is a genuine documentary instead of a lightweight promotion.

That alone is worth the cost of the special edition, on top of the multi-angle scenes and deleted ones.

My Fair Lady

Many people will already have the last DVD release of this celebrated 1964 musical, starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison.

But this new version is another good buy because it is a two-disc 40th anniversary edition with about 90 minutes of extras.

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This classic movie was adapted from the stage show of the same name, which was in turn based on George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion.

Harrison plays the pompous Professor Henry Higgins, who bets he can turn Cockney flower-seller Eliza Doolittle, played by Hepburn, into a refined gentlewoman.

The story and script and very funny, often heartbreaking and always engrossing - and the songs are among the most famous in musicals.

The finest new extra is a 50-minute Making Of plus very rare footage from the production's launch party.

As on the previous release, there is also a chance to see Hepburn's surprisingly good vocal skills before her singing was dubbed for the final film.

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What do you think of these new DVD releases? Is it worth paying extra for the two-disc edition of Master and Commander? And is it worth buying yet another edition of My Fair Lady?

Send us your views.

Master and Commander is a brilliant naval jaunt. I own the two-disc version and the documentaries are a brilliant addition. The level of detail Peter Weir went to to get the "feeling" of the movie right, the worldwide search for faces for even the minor roles, the sound effects and also as far as purchasing "the rose", to the big replica of the ship in the tank. This gives an incredible insight into the film making process. And to top all that, the film is incredible too, stick on the amp with the movies DTS soundtrack, get your widescreen TV / display and enjoy.
Stephen Owen, Warrington, UK

The double-disc edition of Master and Commander is excellent. The documentaries are high quality and informative and unlike with many DVDs, the deleted scenes are well worth watching, expanding the background characters, particularly the Royal Marine captain and some of the younger officers.
Jeremy Olver, Bath, UK

Master and Commander is a great movie from an even better book. It is very well directed and great to see that films about those fierce battles on the sea can now be well made. See it. And I hope there are more to come from Patrick O'Brian's books. As for the second disc, like all films nowadays the making is always good to see but wait three months and get it cheaper.
Henry , UK

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