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1883 Blu-ray Review

‘1883’ is one of 2022’s best series.

Written and created by Taylor Sheridan, ‘1883’ is a 10 episode western prequel series to the hit TV show ‘Yellowstone.’ The story revolves around the Dutton family (James, Margaret, their 2 children Elsa and John, and sister-in-law Claire and her daughter Mary Abel) who are traveling to Oregon alongside 2 cowboys (Ennis and Wade) and a wagon train of German and Slavic immigrants led by a former Union Army Captain Shea and a former Buffalo Soldier (Thomas). From ‘Yellowstone’ we know the Duttons end up in Montana instead, but no spoilers as to how that happens. Elsewhere in the series, plots involve cattle, killers and bandits, Native Americans, nature, Noemi falling for Thomas, Ennis and Elsa bonding, river crossing, cattle rustlers, thieves, Comanche (including a man named Sam who bonds with Elsa), supply shortages, wagon issues, Colton and Cookie (who eventually join th trip), Lakota, and a fatal wound for a major character.

As a western fan, ‘1883’ was immediately up my alley. Not only does the series star genre veteran Sam Elliott, but the story itself was dark and gritty. This isn’t a family friendly western by any stretch of the imagination. The series tackles subject matters about lawlessness, death, survival, violence, harsh realities, a treacherous pioneering journey, and the horrors of humanity. It’s an often punishing series that pulls no punches which is what partially makes it such a compelling watch. The show is not all doom and gloom though as the poetic story is ultimately about hope, love, redemption, family, and finding a home. Taylor Sheridan frames the series through the POV of the teenage Elsa Dutton so we really see how events unfold through her eyes. In many ways ‘1883’ acts as a coming-of-age series as Elsa explores the world via this wagon train and sees the wonders and atrocities within it. 

Speaking of Elsa, actress Isabel May is the clear breakout star of this series. Seeing her character transform from an innocent teen to a hardened young woman was a testament to her acting ability. It’s clear that she is going to be a future star. The aforementioned Sam Elliott knocks it out of the park as if anyone expected anything less. Real life couple/country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill may seem like stunt casting on paper, but the two deliver some of their very best screen work. Their undeniable chemistry really does translate to screen. LaMonica Garrett (who plays very well off of Elliott as Thomas), Eric Nelsen (Ennis) and Gratiela Brancusi (Noemi) also deliver impressive performances. Keep your eyes peeled for some fun cameos by the likes of Billy Bob Thornton and Tom Hanks too.

Production wise, everything is spectacular here. The location shooting, the picturesque cinematography by Ben Richardson, the beautiful score by Brian Tyler and Breton Vivian, the detailed sets and costumes are all note perfect. 

The only real complaint to be had here is that this is the only season we’re getting! ‘Yellowstone’ is a fine series that has really come into its own over time, but ‘1883’ packs a bigger punch. At least there will apparently be another western 1883 set series in the future though titled ‘1883: The Bass Reeves Story.’

Video/Audio:

Presentation: Widescreen 1080p. How does it look? Expect a nice crisp hi-def transfer. 

Audio Track: Dolby Digital 5.1. How does it sound? The 5.1 track is decent but it’s disappointing not to see a hi-def track.

Extras:
* CBS/Paramount ads
* ‘Behind The Story’ making of featurettes for all 10 episodes that also touch upon the story and characters. Set footage and interviews are included.
* ‘A Land Of Peril And Wonder: The Journey Of 1883’- A 48 minute featurette that contains interviews and set footage. Expect discussions about the show’s conception, production, sets, costumes, and more.
* ‘From Cast To Cowboys: Creating The Pioneer Spirit’- A look at the cast going to cowboy camp.
* ‘1883: The Road West’- Another 40 minute featurette that essentially provides an overview of the series story, production, cast and characters.
* ‘Inside 1883’- A quick promotional segment.

August 28, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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